Filling multiple roles in her three-year varsity girls' basketball career has helped Prophetstown's Riley Walters learn and understand the game from many different angles.|
"The thing about Riley is that she's pretty versatile,'' Prophetstown coach Don Robinson said of his 5-foot-6 senior forward. "She was a guard as a sophomore, but was pretty much a forward for us last year. This past summer, we experimented with Riley as our go-to person in the post, and she kind of likes that role.''
In helping the defending Three Rivers Conference co-champions to a 4-0 league start, this week's Area Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus has also been a study in steady. She has scored in double figures in all but one of her team's nine games, a key reason why the Lady Prophets are living the "life of Riley'' with their 8-1 record.
"Being undersized at 5-6, we've been after Riley to work on her moves,'' said Robinson, "but the thing is, she's unpredictable in the post. She'll kick it out to one of our 3-ball shooters. That's actually helped her to be able to score, because defenses don't know if she'll turn and try to score, or kick it out to a 3-ball shooter.
"And, she's learned some survival skills in there. She's got a little hook shot, a little fadeaway, and she just likes to outwork people. She enjoys lifting weights, so she's strong inside. You look at her and don't think much, but it's like she's kind of sneaky-strong.''
Averaging 16 points per game with a field-goal percentage of 69 percent to go with just over four rebounds a game, Walters hopes the Lady Prophets' fast start is only just the beginning. Included in that stretch is a recent 52-50 come-from-behind win over fellow 2011-12 co-champ Riverdale, highlighted by Walters' 20 points.
Walters and the Lady Prophets also hope to make amends for last year's finish. When she averaged
just over 10 points and five boards, she helped Prophetstown's Sweet 16 team battle a powerful Freeport Aquin squad tough before falling in the Class 1A sectional finals.
"Everything we did last year, we want to top this year,'' said Walters,"It was a bummer, losing like that last year, but at the same time it was cool knowing that a tiny school like Prophetstown can go that far. This year, we want to try and make it farther. We all want to win really bad.''
Over the past few years, Walters and her classmate, point guard Cassie Reiley, have become the nerve center in the more recent succession of successful Prophetstown girls' basketball teams.
"Cassie and I came up at the same time, and we've played basketball together since the 5th grade,'' said Walters. "We have a chemistry going on; we feel like that for sure and actually talk about it. Starting to play together as early as we did, that pays off.''
As an example, Walters stated, "I know when I get the ball way down low and I'm getting crowded by a bunch of people, I just know Cassie will be waiting outside the 3-point line, and I'll find her. She's always there when I need her, all of the time. That's pretty cool.''
And with the 10th anniversary of Prophetstown's lone sectional-championship team -- its 2002-03 squad -- coming up, Walters and her teammates want nothing less than to mark the occasion by delivering the program's first trip to the IHSA state finals in Normal.
"Oh yeah, definitely,'' she said. "We think about that all the time.''
AREA PACESETTER RILEY WALTERS
Favorite food: Chinese.
Favorite movie: 8 Seconds.
Favorite TV show: The Big Bang Theory.
Favorite music: Country.
Favorite college: University of Illinois.
Role model: ``I'd say Mr. Robinson (head coach Don Robinson), that's for sure.''
In my spare time: ``I just like hanging out with my family.''
Parents: Jhan and Diane Walters, Prophetstown.
IN THE RUNNING:
Jacob DeVolder, Orion wrestling: The junior 126-pounder went 8-0 this past week with six pins and two wins over returning Class 1A individual state qualifying wrestlers. He was 5-0 this past Saturday as the Chargers won three times at the West Central Conference Duals.
Ben Corlett, Sherrard wrestling: His four pins in four bouts at 285 pounds led a plethora of solid individual efforts as the Tigers went 4-0 at the WCC Duals, running their conference dual-meet winning streak to 24 matches.
Mark Breedlove, Kewanee wrestling: The Boilermakers' 138-pound standout earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors for the lighter weights (106-145) after going 4-0 and striking gold at the Seneca Invitational.
Devin Johnson and Ethan Howard, Prophetstown basketball: Johnson netted 46 points in three Three Rivers Conference wins and Howard notched 38 to help the Prophets get off to a 3-0 start to league play.
Cassidy Clark, Orion basketball: Netted 40 points and snared over 20 rebounds in a pair of Charger victories.
Hannah Nimrick and Elle May, Riverdale basketball: The duo combined to score 58 points in a pair of Three Rivers wins for the Rams.
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