ROCK ISLAND — Rock Island girls’ basketball coach Henry Hall knew it might happen, and it did.
Following what he said was an “awful practice” on Wednesday, the state-ranked Rocks played poorly on Thursday against Galesburg, but still found a way to capture their 36th straight Western Big 6 Conference win, 51-31 at Rock Island High School.
“I saw that one coming,” Hall said. “We didn’t have a good practice (Wednesday) and you play the way you practice. Basketball is a long season and you can’t always play perfect. At the end of the day, we got a win and now we can get ready for our next game on Saturday.”
How bad were the Rocks? Standout senior Brea Beal opened the game making two of her first 10 shots (seven of those eight misses coming on layups).
Even on a struggling night Beal finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals for the Rocks (18-1, 6-0 WB6)
“Brea was pressing a little bit and having one of those nightS,” Hall said. “She went out and did other things to help us win the game. Our offense was off most of the game, but our defense kept us going.”
Besides the defense, the Rocks also got some strong efforts from others around Beal.
Hannah Simmer had 10 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists. Carlee Camlin was a beneficiary of three of those assists and finished with eight points. Bre Williams had three rebounds, three steals and three assists off the bench.
“That’s the one difference this year is we are a team,” Simmer said. “When one or two of us have a tough night, someone else is there to pick them up. The shots didn’t go early, so we just went to work on defense.”
That defense held Galesburg (14-8, 4-2) to just 20 points over the first three quarters and the Rocks turned 13 steals into several breakaway layups and a 21-point lead through three quarters.
“Defensively, I thought we played really well and we rebounded,” Galesburg coach Evan Massey said. “We just didn’t get the job done on offense. We didn’t make shots and we gave them too many easy points. When you turn the ball over against Rocky, they score and that’s a problem.”
Hall was happy to see Simmer have a breakout game.
“She was more active which is what we have talked to her about a lot recently,” Hall said. “We need her to be cutting and moving toward the basket. I think her defense really got her going.”
The Rocks opened the lead to as many as 27 in the fourth quarter before Hall went deep on the bench, playing three sophomores and a freshman.
Alexia Tucker, a deep Galesburg reserve scored all seven of her points when the benches cleared and Daija Range led the Streaks with 11 rebounds.
Rock Island will play Saturday in Eastland’s Northwest Illinois Girls Basketball Shootout, battling Winnebago (12-6) at 3 p.m.