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The official student news of Normal Community High School


The official student news of Normal Community High School


The official student news of Normal Community High School


Girls basketball starts season with a win, hopes of building on last year’s success [season preview]

Photo Courtesy of: Jeff Christopherson
Coach Dave Feeney addresses the Iron team during Monday, Nov. 14’s season opener against U-High.

Community’s girls basketball team opened the 2022-23 season with the goal of building on last year’s success, a goal they took a step toward with Monday’s 54-27 win over the U-High Pioneers in Intercity play.

Last season, the Iron went undefeated in the Intercity Tournament on the way to a 27-7 overall record. 

The program recorded its best season in two decades, matching the win total from the 2002-03 season during Coach Dave Feeney’s first stint as the team’s head coach. 

Last season, Feeney thought, the team played “exceptional basketball,” at times “playing as good as they could possibly play.” 

Community fell one win shy of tying the program’s single-season win record set in 1994-95.

“We always talked about playing tough and together,” Feeney said, “I thought they exhibited those traits. Good basketball teams make each other better. 

Together — the team played in an IHSA Sectional Finals game for the first time in 17 years, riding an eight-game winning streak into the Sectionals Championship contest against the Edwardsville Tigers.

“I don’t think it is a coincidence that [winning streak] happened after we lost to Incarnate Word,” Feeney said. 

The streak began in late January after Community’s 63-52 home loss to nationally-ranked Incarnate Word Academy out of St. Louis.

After losing to the 7th-ranked team in the nation, a team with “multiple Division I players on their roster,” Feeney said, “we found how tough we can be playing against … really good competition.”

While the Iron’s season last year ended in a 57-45 Sectional Final loss to Edwardsville, Feeney hopes the experience of playing “a really good schedule” will give this season’s roster confidence. 

That roster remains largely intact from last season.

“We have the unbelievable advantage,” Feeney said, of having 12 returning athletes — after seniors Karleigh Creasey and Paige Walker graduated and junior Addie Snoeyink opted not to play basketball in 2022.

Creasey, Feeney said, “was phenomenal,” a “a really passionate competitor.” 

Creasey, now playing for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Falcons, was a three-year varsity starter for Community. Last season, the guard led the team in assists with 115 and was the team’s third-leading scorer, seeing more minutes than all but Sophie Feeney. 

Walker’s contributions came more as a teammate than on the stat sheet. 

Walker, Feeney said, was “very compassionate. She took a lot of interest in her teammates’ well-being and often voiced concerns to us about how a teammate was doing off the floor.”

“We’ll have to replace both of them,” Feeney said, “they both had contributing roles.”

With an experienced squad of returning players, Community has the players to do so.

“If we stay healthy, we will potentially be putting 12 kids on the floor that had at least some varsity or JV experience last year,” Feeney said. 

Among Community’s returning starters are Sophie Feeney, Olivia Corson and Giana Rawlings. Sophie Feeney and Corson were 1st Team All-Conference players last season; Rawlings, as a sophomore, was a Special Mention All-Conference Selection.  

Olivia Corson led the team in scoring, rebounding and steals last year — with 388 points, 193 rebounds and 76 steals. 

Rawlings’s 346 points had her second on the stat sheet, shooting over 50% on the season.

255 of those points came from beyond the arc, as Rawlings sunk 85 three-pointers, setting a school record. 

Sophie Feeney contributed consistently — shooting 51% for 264 points, recording 99 rebounds, 65 assists and drew 9 charges. 

The team also returns key contributors Lauren Hlava and Ali Ince. 

Ince is a reliable shooter, leading the team in field goal percentage to score 208 points in 534 minutes of action. As the team’s third-leading rebounder, Ince pulled down 97 misses last season. 

Hlava, off the bench, recorded 23 three-pointers last season. Hlava recorded 27 steals and, at 5’11,” blocked five shots on the season. 

Coach Feeney recognizes that the “extremely unique” situation of returning the majority of last season’s roster is not without potential issues. 

“We have to make sure we don’t get complacent and don’t think [success is] just automatically going to happen because we have people back,” Feeney said.  

Those returners, Feeney said, did not all play consistently last season. 

“We probably played about eight. This year, we could play 10 or 11 consistently,” the coach said. 

Other returners with “significant experience,” Feeney said, include Sophie Barlow, Allie Rustemeyer, Brynley Dowd and Chloe Janssen. 

Sophomore Rayna Powers had a “really impressive showing this summer,” Feeney said, “and is looking to crack the varsity rotation.” 

Community’s roster depth will let the Iron play to an area of strength last season — their speed — by keeping athletes fresh. 

“We are not a big team,” Feeney said, “but we play an athletic style.”

With no athlete on the roster over 5′11,″ Community looks to pressure teams defensively.

“A lot of times,” Coach Feeney said, “teams that do that don’t necessarily rebound the ball well.”

The coach said rebounding is one aspect of the team’s game he hopes to improve upon this season. 

Community is next in action Wednesday at home, facing the Central Catholic Saints (1-0) in game two of Intercity. 

Intercity, the coach said, is “always tough because the [games] come so quick.” He expects Community to “face still competition.” 

But, Feeney said, the Iron “get excited about playing really good teams.”

The 2022-23 team, Feeney said, will be “fun to root for because they are going to play really hard.”

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About the Contributors
Stories published under Inkspot Staff are unattributed to a single reporter because they: have been produced through a collaborative staff effort; individual staff member contribution is not easily distinguishable; and/or the story was disseminated from announcements or press releases.
Brady Boyd, Staff Writer
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