Nearly a decade ago, a Rock Island youth coach suggested that if one was starting a team, enlisting Shavonne Brewer and Cairece Allen would be a cornerstone of success.|
While that then was for summer softball -- and Brewer and Allen haven't played that sport for several years -- they still form quite a tandem of successful sports promise.
For the first time in their high-school careers, the two will be starters together for the Rock Island girls' basketball team. The fact that the two know each other so well could translate in what the Lady Rocks need to repeat a 20-win season, going 21-8 with a group that had four senior starters.
"We have played together since the second grade," said Allen, who will be counted on as a backcourt mate of Brewer.
"I know her like the back of my hand, better than she knows herself," Brewer said of Allen. "The chemistry is just there. We are like twins."
Thus, what the Rocks lost in varsity experience they gain in senior-class chemistry.
"There are five of us -- the two of us, Jacqueline Twing, Harmonee Trice and Olivia Brooks -- who have played together since the third grade at the YMCA," said Brewer. "My dad coached Cairece and me and the others were on other teams. So we've stuck together as a team for a while."
Chemistry, alone, though, won't put points on the board. Still, RI coach Thad Hoover isn't concerned that of the eight Rocks who scored in games last year, Brewer nearly doubles all of the rest combined in scoring average -- 12.6 to 6.7.
"We lack varsity experience and we are not a huge team, but I think this team, in some ways, will be better than last year's," said Hoover. "We have much more depth and I feel good about the kids we have playing."
In the post, the Rocks will look to Shamia Clark, a 5-10 junior who was part of last year's sophomore team that went 25-2, as well as Mercedes Jackson, a 5-10 sophomore.
Next to Brewer's double-figure scoring average in '11-12, Allen and Clark are next among returnees with 1.5 points per game, Allen in 27 games and Clark in 13.
Hoover says his team also is stocked with outside shooters, among them Allen, the Twing sisters (Jacqueline and sophomore Morgan), sophomore Jazmin Quinn, his daughter Carlee Hoover and Mystique Thompson.
"Mystique is thought of as a defender, but she is developing a nice 3-point shot," the coach noted of the latter.
Allen says she's been told that she's being counted on to be more aggressive.
"They want me to shoot more," she said.
"Yeah," Brewer added, "like in the Red-Gold Game," in which Allen hit 5-of-6 shots for a double-figure scoring game. "Believe me, she'll shoot the ball more, or else."
Of course, crunch time should be all Brewer's, as it was in much of last year's successful season.
"When it's go-to time, we will look to her," said Coach Hoover. "But we still feel good about the other players around her. Our biggest challenge, I think, is that we are going to have to rebound collectively."
Meet the RI Lady Rocks
Coach: Thad Hoover (237-164 in 17-year career; 64-58 at RIHS).
Assistants: Henry Hall and Janice Watts (varsity assistants), Matt Hoeppner (head sophs), Julie VanErstvelde (soph assistant), Jarrod Parker (head frosh).
Last season: 21-8, 7-3 Western Big 6.
Returning letterwinners: Srs: Shavonne Brewer (5-5 G), Cairece Allen (5-8 G), Jacqueline Twing (5-7 G), Olivia Brooks (5-5 G), Harmonee Trice (5-7 F). Jrs: Carlee Hoover (5-7 G), Shamia Clark (5-10 C).
Newcomers: Jrs.: Mystique Thompson (5-3 G), Jacklyn Young (5-7 G), Charlesreka Singleton (5-3 G), Mariah Ramsey (5-5 G). Sophs: Mercedes Jackson (5-10 C), Angel Parker (5-4 G), Morgan Twing (5-6 G), Cynthia Myers (5-8 F), Shyteria McDuffy (5-7 G), Jazmiah Quinn (5-6 G).
Schedule (All games 7, unless tournament or where noted): Nov. 16-17 at Aurora IMSA Invitational; Nov. 20 Alleman; Nov. 27 Sterling; Nov. 29 United Township; Dec. 6 at Galesburg; Dec. 8, 10, 14, 15 at Abingdon/Knoxville Tournament; Dec. 13 at Moline; Dec. 18 Geneseo; Dec. 26-29 at State Farm Holiday Classic; Jan. 3 Quincy; Jan. 5 at Iowa-Illinois Shootout; Jan. 10 at Alleman; Jan. 12 at Sherrard, 2:30 p.m.; Jan. 17 at United Township; Jan. 24 Galesburg; Jan. 26 at Peoria Notre Dame; Jan. 31 Moline; Feb. 4 Peoria High; Feb. 7 at Quincy
East moline, IL Details
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