Coach Eidahl: ‘The future looks bright’
The Pekin Panthers girls’ basketball team concluded a successful season on Feb. 17, losing to No. 3-ranked Central Decatur, of Leon.
Central Decatur is 24-0. The Panthers season record was 17-5.
“After making it to the tournament last year and losing four starters to graduation, we thought that this would be a rebuilding year,” said Pekin head coach Davis Eidahl. “We had one starter back (Maci Gambell) and no players that had many varsity minutes.
“Once we got used to playing with each other, we won 13 games in a row. Maci has learned to take on many roles: What she developed the most was her inside game. The girls this year gained valuable experience. It took Maci a few games to get used to playing with them.
“Once we got going, the girls really developed. They worked hard at practice, came in three mornings a week to shoot, and worked well together. The future looks bright. We have some good potential coming back.”
Sophomore point guard Zoey Wright and sophomore Haley Gambell became starters this season.
“Zoey is quick, fast and a good driver,” Eidahl said. “Haley is going to be a force inside.”
The Panthers will lose three key players to graduation.
“Kaylee Linder was a great leader on and off the court,” Eidahl said. “She was the quarterback of the basketball team. Shea Dahlstrom was a great defensive player who developed her offensive skills throughout the season.”
Regarding Aspen Clark, Eidahl said, “Best player I have had that helped blend the team together. Never a negative comment. Great support player for the other girls.”
The Panthers trailed Central Decatur by only eight points after the first quarter.
However, Central Decatur took total control by halftime.
Eidahl called Central Decatur “the best overall girls team I have coached against. They had great skills. Tall, fast and quick, and excellent shooters.
“We came out scared. Two years ago, we played Regina at Iowa City. We came out scared and it took over half the game to get going. Same Friday night. Most of our girls had not been in this situation before. Next year with this experience, it will be different.
“We have good athletes, now we must take them and develop them into top-flight basketball players. You do this in the offseason.”