Both the Pecatonica boys and girls’ basketball programs have experienced exceptional success throughout the 2022-2023 season.

Although both teams come off successful campaigns from last year, these lucrative results are taken, not given.  As of the morning of January 6, both programs hold a combined record of 27-7.  The Pecatonica boys were 14-1, while the girls were 13-6.

Pecatonica girls’ head coach, Daniel Rosenstiel, who has worked with both programs, spoke about the current success.  “To see the success of both our boys’ and girls’ basketball teams is great, but also not a surprise.”

Rosenstiel said, explaining “I say this because I have seen how hard our kids work on both sides.  Having been with the boys for the last couple years, I have seen them work extremely hard and they are great kids, which is a testament to coach Bobby Heisler and his staff at all levels.”

The Pecatonica girls, who recently went on a four-game winning streak, recently picked up their first conference win with a 39-38 victory over the Aquin Bulldogs.  The game came down to the wire and, thanks to a Paige Moore free throw, the Indians were able to pick up their first conference win.  Elaina Rager added sixteen points in the game, as well.

Currently, the girls are averaging forty-five points per game and are shooting just under 30 percent from three-point range as a team.

They are led by Rager, who is averaging 15 points, seven rebounds, and three and a half assists per game.  Lauren Mellentine is having a solid junior campaign at eleven points per game and a 31 percent shooting percentage from three.  Payton Thomas, a sophomore, is producing well with six points and six rebounds per game.  Addie Hamilton, another junior, is also shooting above thirty percent from three, this season.

Rosenstiel spoke more about his squad, saying “With the girls, it has been great to see us build upon success from last year and continue to take steps in the right direction.  I think what makes it nice is the kids do it all for each other.  There is no selfishness and everyone is always all in about winning and getting better.”

Rosenstiel says the program’s success isn’t just an internal thing, but more so comes from the Pecatonica community as a whole.  “Just in general, we have great support that encourages and pushes our kids to get better outside of basketball, too.  Volleyball teams, football, etcetera, have all been vastly improving over the years.  Which is a testament to parents, coaches, fans, and our school faculty members.”  Rosenstiel shared.

The girls head coach went on to share his gratitude to be apart of the program, saying “I know I feel lucky to just be a part of the journey that the girls are taking us on, and it has been awesome to watch these boys take that huge jump, as well.  Hopefully, we can keep it going.  Great kids and great community equals great success in my book.”

While the girls have won eight of their last 10, the Pecatonica boys built up another six-game winning streak.  The streak comes after the team suffered a tough loss to the Byron Tigers, back on Dec. 26.

The Indians quickly bounced back from the loss with wins over Amboy and Forreston.  Pecatonica senior and three-year varsity player, Briaun Green, spoke about the team’s bounce back.

“It’s pretty much our coach.  He does a great job of keeping us, game by game, the next game is a new opportunity for us.  We just use that and then we all play well together.”  Green shared, adding “We knew we were gonna go on another run, it was just a tough loss.”

Mason Peterson, another Pecatonica junior, also spoke about the team’s response to the loss.  “We just focused in on our next practice after that, because we didn’t like that loss.  We were going headstrong and everything, we were undefeated.  We were kind of upset after that, went into the Eastland tournament, we were all focused and kept grinding, and we ended up winning that.  We just kept playing like a team and built chemistry.”  Drew Williams, a junior guard, said the loss helped the team build chemistry.

“From a defensive standpoint, it all just brought us together.  Our communication skyrocketed from that point.  Really, we just started clicking.”  Williams shared.

Last week, the Indians picked up another solid victory over the Pearl City Wolves.  At the time, the Wolves held a record of 5-8.

The Indians blew the game wide open in the first quarter as they outscored the Wolves 23-4.  Peterson got the game started with a pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter.

Williams sunk an early three of his own on his way to seven first quarter points.  Korbin Gann added six points in the first, as well.

In the second quarter, the Indians’ lead would only grow.  Peterson sunk another three pointer as Pecatonica combined for sixteen points in the quarter.  While the Pearl City offense was improved with fourteen second quarter points, Pecatonica would still take a 39-18 lead into halftime.

Pecatonica sophomore, Cooper Hoffman, got to work in the third quarter.  Coming out of the break, Hoffman drilled a three-pointer, a free throw, and a pair of baskets on his way to eight third quarter points.  Jaxon Diedrich, another sophomore, hit four points of his own in the quarter.

The Indians have been able to rely heavily on their trio of sophomores in Hoffman, Diedrich, and Brody Black.  Green spoke about the underclassmen’s production, saying “All of us love those three.  We hang out with them every day, so we just have a built in chemistry.  Cooper is like my brother, his dad was my football coach and my mentor.”

Peterson shared the same sentiment, saying “it’s pretty easy to rely on them considering Cooper and Jaxon have been playing [varsity] since they were freshman.  Brody, over summer league, he just fit in instantly.  We’ve all been playing together, ever since we were younger, in tournaments all over.”

Williams also chimed in on the sophomore trio, saying “It’s nothing different for them.  It’s just more of teamwork, really.  They bond right in as if they were seniors, so the standards are the same for them.”

Hoffman has been one of the team’s leading scorers this year and that remained true in the 62-34 victory over Pearl City.  Hoffman finished the game with sixteen points, while Gann was the only other Indian in double digits with 10.  Both Williams and Peterson finished the game with nine.

All of Peterson’s points came from behind the three-point arc, a place where Peterson feels comfortable.  “That’s where I started out when I was younger.  My mom was a good shooter and I played travel ball since third grade.  I was just mainly the shooter, so I just kept on getting in the gym.  When coach opens up the doors like an hour early, I’m in there.  I’m in there for shootarounds, even when we aren’t in basketball season.”  Peterson said on his inspiration to develop such a lethal three-point shot.

Following the victory over Pearl City, the Warriors went on to pick up a 71-34 victory over the 1-11 Aquin Bulldogs. The win improved the boys’ record to 14-1 on the season.

Pecatonica will host the 2023 Martin Luther King JR Memorial Tournament from Saturday, Jan. 14 through Monday, Jan. 16.  Polo, Galena, Eastland, Scales Mound, Richmond Burton, Johnsburg, and Durand are among the teams competing in the tournament.  Pecatonica will tip off the tournament with a 9 a.m. matchup against Polo.

The girls have a pair of home matchups, this week.  After hosting Lena-Winslow earlier this week, the Indians are back on their home court on Friday, Jan. 13, to play host to the Orangeville Broncos.

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