MINONK,Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — When a team brings back the majority of a squad that made it to state last year, expectations can be high.
That’s the case at Fieldcrest, which finished fourth at the class 2A girls basketball state tournament last season. Now the undefeated Knights are trying not to live in the past.
“We try not to compare ourselves to last year’s team,” said Fieldcrest head coach Mitch Neally. “We’re a new team with new players. We try to go in each day and improve ourselves.”
Fieldcrest has a motto this year, ‘Stay hungry, stay humble.’ Neally says he’s borrowing it from Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright.
His players say it’s keeping them centered on what’s directly ahead. And preventing them from thinking too highly of themselves as they try and make a second consecutive trip to the state tournament.
“We do need to stay hungry and he have to play our best every game because everyone else is giving their best game against us, said senior Ashlyn May. “But staying humble, that’s important too. You can’t get too over your head. You have to play your game.”
Last winter’s state trophy was the first in school history for the girls basketball program as Fieldcrest went 34-4. The Knights have won the first seven games of the season and haven’t played at home yet.
“It can be easy to walk into that gym after the season we had last year and think something like that will happen again,” said senior Carolyn Megow. “It makes you realize you have to work for it.”
They love the experience they gained from playing at state a year ago but the Knights realize that trip to the state’s Final Four can be both a blessing and a curse this year. Every opponent has the Knights circled on their schedule.
“You know you’ll get the best from each team, each night. It will help us get better,” said Neally. “We know we’re going to get that (competition). It’ll help us in the long run.”