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Eastview Lightning #22 Madison Guebert drives under the basket against Bloomington Kennedy. Photo by Jon Laqua.
Bloomington Kennedy's Kenisha Bell runs the offense against Eastview. Photo by Jon Laqua
Bloomington Kennedy coach Quintin Johnson described the rivalry between his No. 6-ranked Eagles and No. 1 Eastview as the best in the state.
"Name me another one, and I think ours is better right now," Johnson said.
Familiarity of playing each other twice in the regular season each year in the South Suburban Conference, the abundance of talent that roams the floor and a history of close games has made the Eagles against the Lightning a can't miss game in girls' basketball.
"There is just a lot of respect that we have for each other," Lightning coach Melissa Guebert said. "We see each other so often and know each other so well that it just makes for a great game."
A year ago in the state Class 4A semifinals, Bloomington Kennedy knocked off Eastview to advance to the state title game. Even with roster changes and new players coming in, don't think that loss has left the minds of Eastview, which was looking for some revenge.
"We don't like to look at the past, but we really wanted this one," Lightning guard Madison Guebert said.
Guebert did her part, scoring 26 points in Eastview's 65-54 win on Thursday at Eastview High School.
The junior simply did not miss from beyond the arc. Whenever the Eagles were on the verge of making a comeback, she put a dagger in their hearts with a big three-pointer.
"I was feeling pretty good with my shot," Guebert said. "My teammates were great. We were making the extra pass and a lot of times I was just the one who got it with an open shot."
Guebert needed all of her 26 points to keep Tonoia Wade and Kenisha Bell from engineering a Bloomington Kennedy comeback. Bell led the Eagles with 20 and Wade with 18.
"They are two of the toughest players we are going to play against all year," Guebert said. "We knew we had to keep plugging away or else they can come back on you before you know it."
Bloomington Kennedy ran a zone defense, but Eastview was able to break it by working the ball around for an open shot. The ball distribution led to 11 3-pointers for the Lightning, while Bloomington Kennedy was unable to connect from three.
"We had a few mistakes, and they make you pay for them," Johnson said. "They have some really good players over there that can hit those shots, so you have to be at your best. Any mistake you make is going to be critical."
Bloomington Kennedy drops to 9-5 on the season and will have a break until Tuesday when it hosts Eagan. Eastview remains undefeated at 14-0 and will be on the road Fridat at Eagan.
The rematch between the Eagles and Lightning is on Feb. 13 at Bloomington Kennedy High school.
"We play them again at our place and I plan on playing them again after that," Johnson said. "That is good because that means we would be downtown at state again."