Moline girls' basketball coach Steve Ford wasn't afraid to say it.
He's glad his Maroons caught the Quincy Blue Devils, losers of 29 straight Western Big 6 games after a 46-42 Moline win at Wharton Field House on Thursday night, early in the conference schedule.
"I think they showed signs against United Township, against Galesburg and against us. They are going to win some games. I'm glad we were able to battle them and pull it out."
Quincy coach Demond Dade is less shy about just how many games he thinks his Blue Devils, now 4-5 but 0-3 in the WB6, can win.
"We could be 3-0; we should be 3-0" in the Big 6, Dade emphatically stated. "I'm proud of our girls; we are working on mental toughness. For so long, we have been the whipping post of the Big 6, been laughed at. But at some point, we've got to catch a fair break.
"Against Galesburg, they shot 24 free throws in a three-minute overtime, and I don't even know how that's possible. And we shot eight all game this game." And was 8-of-8.
"Our mantra, and I don't know if you heard it as we came out of the locker room, is that we still want to be conference champs. It is going to take getting some help, but we need to start taking care of business."
That's a mouthful considering Quincy hasn't won in the Big 6 since the sixth game of 2009. Yet, it did seem as if they had outplayed the Maroons (4-6, 2-1), forcing 24 turnovers and outrebounding the hosts 30-25.
"That pressure was pretty extreme," Ford said of the Blue Devil defense.
In fact, Moline needed every ounce of fortitude from its top two of Morgan Gerard and Becky Lankford. Gerard hit 9-of-14 shots en route to 20 points to go with six rebounds. Lankford was one rebound shy of a double-double, with 10 points and nine boards.
"Becky was outstanding; I don't think she ever sat down except for maybe timeouts," Ford said of his center. "And yet, she still hit that 3" midway through the fourth quarter to give Moline some breathing room at 43-38.
Lankford hobbled out of the locker room, but it wasn't from only playing hard for 32 minutes at both ends of the court. "I twisted my ankle toward the end of the game," she explained. "This was a conference game and we really wanted it. A lot of people were not giving us a lot of credit going into the season, but we proved we can win and we will."
The same holds true for Quincy.
The Devils were hurt by 2-of-21 shooting beyond the arc, and a 3-of-15 from the field in the fourth quarter. Quincy entered that frame up by a point. That lead got to three (38-35) before two Jordan de los Reyes free throws and back-to-back 3s by Gerard and Lankford turned the tide.
And by the time de los Reyes closed it out with two more free throws with 13 seconds left, Moline was able to breathe a sigh of relief that the Devils didn't end their streak against it.
"We didn't say anything" to the girls about Quincy's 28 straight, Ford said. "I'm happy we got better and still got a win. All Thursdays in the Big 6 are going to be like that."
And the way the Blue Devils have played, one of those upcoming Thursdays just might provide the break they've sought to break that skid.
Today is Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana. 1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.