Hobbs leading young team

Adam Larck
Senior Lexi Hobbs warms-up with free throws before practice. Hobbs, the lone senior on the team, looks to try and lead the Eagles to a Regional championship this year.

Senior Lexi Hobbs has had to take on some extra responsibilities for this year’s girls basketball team.

Hobbs, the lone senior that averaged 13 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game last season, has stepped into a leadership role by herself this year.

“She’s got a lot of responsibilities this year,” coach Pat Garst said. “She has to take on the extra added responsibilities that she maybe would not have to have if we had more upperclassmen out. She’s done a great job. It’s almost like she’s babysitting these kids.”

Hobbs, who said she played basketball in the offseason in the Amateur Athletic Union, said it was shocking to find out that she was the only returning senior.

“It’s a good group of girls, though, so I like it,” she said.

One of the seniors that decided not to come out this year was Jamie Nichting, who played volleyball during the fall season.

“I’m not sure of all the details on that, she just decided not to go out,” Garst said of the forward.

To fill out the team this year, Garst said that three juniors are on the varsity squad, along with six sophomores and a freshman.

“They’ve been looking pretty good,” Garst said of the team in practice. “I’m very pleased.

“We’re really, really young, but they’re working really hard and playing well together.” Garst said that most of the team is “basically guards,” except for freshman Brianna Henson, who is 6 foot, and two sophomores, Elizabeth Zoz, who is 6 foot, and Damilola Taiwo, who is 5-10.

The girls opened up the season on Nov. 15 to Galesburg at the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament with a loss, 72-69.

“I have to admit, I was pretty ecstatic with the way we played,” Garst said. “I started one senior, three sophomores and one freshman. Going into the locker room before the game started, you could just tell how tense they were. You’re throwing young kids against a team that plays their style. They play a totally different style then anyone else.”

He added that, while the team went down early, 9-0, they were ahead for almost the entire game.

The Eagles, which led by nine entering the fourth quarter, saw its lead disappear after a pair of free throws with five seconds to go.

Sharron Diggins then stole the inbounds pass to let Jessica Lieber make the game-winning 3-pointer.

Hobbs led the game with 24 points, while Kristeen Morgan added 12. Chloe Henson also chipped in 10.

“I was actually surprised that it went that well, to tell you the truth,” Hobbs said.

The Eagles followed that game up with another close loss, this time to LeRoy, 51-42.

Hobbs again had a game-high 20 points, with Morgan Erickson adding five and Taiwo, Cassandra Gibbons and Brianna Henson getting four points.

Saturday saw the Eagles split a pair of games, losing to Springfield, 65-28, before beating Rock Island Alleman, 50-42.

Hobbs had 41 points between the two games, including 29 in the win.

The Eagles next play Saturday against Illini West in the tournament, before going to LaSalle-Peru Dec. 6.

The Eagles then open conference action Dec. 9 at Washington.

“I think a lot of the teams lost a lot of kids and everybody’s going to be pretty evenly matched,” Garst said of the Mid-Illini Conference.

Hobbs added that, before her final season ends, she would like to help the team win a Regional and Sectional title.