Gambell makes all-state team
Pekin girls’ basketball head coach Davis Eidahl needn’t have worried.
“But I was worried,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if all the other coaches understood just how good Maci Gambell was. We haven’t been getting a lot of attention the past few years with postseason awards.”
But the Iowa Girls Coaches Association did notice the 5-foot-8 junior forward. For her overall outstanding season, Gambell was named to the 2017 IGCA Class 2A All-State Second Team.
“I’m thrilled for Maci,” Eidahl said. “It tells you the coaches all over this state are noticing just how good Maci is.”
Here’s how good she is: In 2016-17, Gambell averaged 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
She also averaged a block and 2.3 steals per contest. She shot 43 percent from beyond the arc and 59 percent from the field overall.
Led by Gambell, the Panthers went three rounds deep in the postseason, finishing 17-5 overall. Pekin opened the season 3-3, found its footing, and rattled off 13 wins in a row.
“Maci was our only returning starter this season,” Eidahl said. “She was the one who took the responsibility of making the other girls buy in, believe in each other. Maci filled her role as team leader beautifully.”
Of her IGCA honor, Gambell said, “It’s definitely nice to know all the hard work I put in paid off in the end.”
On Feb. 14, in a playoff win over Van Buren, Gambell scored Career Point 1,000.
According to Eidahl, Gambell’s work ethic is impeccable.
“Maci worked very hard to make herself better,” he said.
As a freshman and sophomore, Gambell’s 3-point shot was her primary weapon, while Pekin was banking on other players for inside buckets.
But this season, as the sole returning starter, Gambell knew it was best for the Panthers to adjust her mode of attack.
“Working on my inside game was a high priority for me this season,” she said. “I worked very hard at it. I knew in our conference I was a lot stronger than a lot of the other players, so it was important for me to score more inside.”
As for individual stats, Gambell said team success was far more important.
“Going into this season, nobody thought much of us,” she said. “But we all worked hard together and made ourselves into a very good team.
“And as for my own statistics, I would not have accomplished those without my teammates and their hard work. My teammates helped me get those points and stats.”
Gambell has made it clear to all returning Panthers that the 2017-18 basketball season has started.
“We’ve already started planning for next season,” she said. “All but three seniors are coming back. We have very high expectations.”
“Maci’s goal is for our team to get to the state tournament and win a game there,” he said. “And she’s already far along in making sure our team is working on that.”