RANTOUL — It was a tough season for Rantoul Township High School coach Renee Reed’s girls basketball team and that’s putting it lightly given that their final record was 8-19, 2-7 in conference play. In their last game, the Eagles lost in its tournament game on Feb. 11 against Champaign Central, 78-40, putting an end to their season.

Despite her team’s record and the way the season ended, Reed believes that there were many things she saw her team do well especially in the second-half of the season which they finished winning only three out-of-11 games. Reed does not think winning is everything when it comes to a team playing up to her expectations.

"I was still more pleased with the effort that I got in the second half of the season, more so than the first," Reed said. "I think they started to buy in to what I was wanting, trying to work hard. That was kind of the biggest thing for me. Just try and get everyone on the same page. I think things like that held them back this year."

Reed wanted her players not to just win games, but listen to her calls, follow her lead, or as she puts it, "buying in" what she was advising the team on making plays and not think about previous years where the team won more games.

"That was kind of the biggest thing for me," Reed said. "Just try and get everyone on the same page. I think what held them back this year was just trying to build that consistent chemistry, having players be consistent overall and kind of taking out some of the negativity prior. We were trying to rebuild, during that second half of the season, and we definitely showed that."

Reed did have a goal of winning 10 games in mind prior to the start of the season, falling short, but despite not making that many w’s she feels her team showed what they can be capable of when they come to play.

For instance in their last game in the regional against Champaign Central they were able to pull within 11 points at the half, eventually losing by a final score of 78-40. When the Eagles previously played the Maroons on its game on Jan. 15 they were only able to score eight points at the half, trailing by more than 20 and lost 51-19.

"Minus wins or losses I think we definitely set the tone and opened a couple of eyes this year," Reed said. "Because last year a lot of teams they played, I think they were getting blown out by 30, 40, and then this year some of the teams we did get blown out by last year we were able to cut down that lead down to maybe 10 or 15."

For Reed’s senior players, this will be their only season with her as their coach. Reed was clear in that her team’s leaders were the five seniors: Jada Mosley, Litzy Hernandez, Courtney Sutherland, Emma Mihaly and Hannah Kelly.

Mosley led her team in assists, averaging about four a game and led in steals, averaging about 3.5 steals a game. Mosley was looked up to by a lot of the other players on the team.

"She definitely led by example, even though she wasn’t as vocal," Reed said. "I do appreciate the fact that she was able to lead by example by kind of showing it through her actions."

When it comes to vocal leaders, Kelly had no problem showing that type of leadership. Kelly averaged four points and three rebounds a game. Reed says Kelly is a hard worker both on and off the court.

"Anything I needed her to do, if I told her ‘Ok just stop this person,’ she was willing to give her all," Reed said. "I mean to me that is more than what you can ask of any player. There’s not too much I could ask that she wouldn’t have done."

Reed was familiar with Sutherland prior to becoming coach. She said Sutherland was more involved throughout the season when it came to showing leadership on the team. She was the senior player to go to when it came to making a big play in the game. Sutherland averaged about five points and two assists a game.

"If I needed the biggest shot of the time, she would be my go, to player," Reed said. "Regardless of that she would definitely try to deliver."

Seniors such as Mihaly and Hernandez did not get as much playing time compared to other players, but the effort they put in throughout the season to support the team could not go unnoticed, Reed said.

"If I had to give an Eagle proud award to anyone, it would definitely be Litzy," Reed said. "She never complained. Mihaly knew her role well and came in right away. She knew her role well and never complained about anything." Reed wishes she had her seniors for more than a year, but nevertheless, she is grateful for the effort they put in this year and the commitment they gave to the team. "If I had them another year or so, I definitely could have had the chance to allow them to grow better," Reed said. "I’ll never forget just from their work ethic, on and off the court. I think they definitely helped start a foundation that I am trying to build here at Rantoul."

btheobald@rantoulpress.com