Lady Iron look to leave their mark

Coach Marcus Mann, has high hopes for the 2018-2019 varsity girls basketball season after, what he considers, an early exit from last year’s IHSA 4A playoffs.

With a talented roster of upper- and lowerclassmen, the bar has been set higher for this year’s Lady Iron. The team looks to be headed in the right direction, defeating the Pioneers of U-High in the season opener 57-23 on Monday.

Last year’s team had the goal of at “least get[ting] out of the Regional and be a Sectionals participant,” Mann said. They ultimately fell short when they were defeated by Bradley Bourbonnais 49-48 in the Regional Semi-Finals.

Maya Wong (11) believed in the talent of that team, “I didn’t think it was going to happen.” However, a 1-point margin was the difference maker, ending the girls season earlier then they had planned.

The 2017-18 Lady Iron finished 22-7 overall and 9-1 in Big 12 conference play, but this year’s team has larger goals in mind and are willing to put in the work to achieve them.

This year’s squad will play “one of the toughest schedules in the state” according to Mann; facing Morton at home. The Potters are familiar with playoff goals themselves; winning the 3A State title 3 consecutive years before exiting in the Sectional round last season.

Lady Iron will travel to Rock Island to face the Rock’s standout wing Brea Beal. A South Carolina commit, Beal is ranked 13th in the nation by ESPNW amongst high school recruits.

On top of facing stiff competition, three of last year’s starters or “heavy rotators” have graduated. The team is without Summer Stoewer, Hannah Johnson, and Caelyn Steffens, who have all gone on to compete in college sports.

Coach Mann and the Lady Ironmen aren’t worried though, they have other things on their minds: repeating as Intercity champions, as Holiday Classic tournament finalists; to win the Big 12 conference title; and then winning their regional.

The basis of this confidence stems from the talent of their team captains. Abby Feit (12), Maya Wong, and Kylee Schneringer (11) have all made commitments to play Division I basketball at Evansville, Illinois State, and University of Alabama Birmingham, respectively.

The talent showed in the season opener with Wong leading the Iron in scoring with 14 points, and nine coming from Feit.

The team has their sights set on “going to State, at least,” Wong said.

Accompanying this core, Mann notes a number of younger players he is excited about. Sophomore Mallory Oloffson, at 6’1”, is expected to play a significant role for this years team.

As for guards Madison Feeney, Maylin Henning, and Carleigh Creasey, look for them to “play some good minutes on a rotational basis,” Mann said.

“The underclassmen will be good coming off the bench because they know their role,” Wong said.

Mann believes that for the Lady Iron to achieve their goals this year, it will come down to how they work together.

“It’s really about the hard work, the effort, and the chemistry of the team.”

Intercity play resumes Wednesday at U-High with 1-0 NCHS matching up against the 1-0 Central Catholic Saints.