Lady Rockets Punch Their Ticket to State


Jared Juenger, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Lady Rockets basketball team is heading to the IHSA 1A State Tournament for the first time since 2006! Okawville competed in the Brown County High School super-sectional on Monday, February 27, and punched their ticket to state. This means the Lady Rockets are now in the Final 4 of 1A girls’ basketball throughout the state.

There were many emotions heading into the Elite 8 competition. The past two seasons, discluding the 20-21 season as no postseason was held, the Lady Rockets have been unsuccessful in the super-sectional round. Well, you know what they say? The third time is a charm! Okawville was successful this year, as they defeated Havana High School 58-45.

“It was so good to finally get this win!” expressed senior Briley Rhodes. Rhodes has been a starter all 4 years of high school and was a part of the two teams that came up short in the Elite 8. “This means a lot to me after tough losses the last few years. I’m so grateful to be able to experience this and make some unforgettable memories.”

As both teams took the floor, you could feel the intensity in the gym. Both schools were looking for their chance at the state tournament. The first quarter of the game was a constant back-and-forth battle between Okawville and the Lady Ducks. At the end of the first, the game was tied at 14. The Lady Rockets only allowed Havana to score 4 points in the second quarter and headed to the locker room with a 28-18 lead. However, the Lady Ducks were not giving up and came out firing. The Lady Rockets’ defense kept Havana from gaining momentum and ended the third quarter with a score of 44-31. From there, the Lady Rockets were in control of the game and finished the game strong and defeated the Lady Ducks 58-45.

Emotions were high as Okawville claimed their super-sectional plaque. The team’s worries about coming up short once again were shattered and joy and excitement took over. “This is what we have been waiting for the last 4 years of high school and have missed it by an inch each time,” stated senior Ellie Frederking. “This is what all the blood, sweat, and tears we put into this sport were for since second grade and now it’s paying off.” This group of Okawville girls has been playing with each other over the past 6-10 years.

The Lady Rockets’ efforts were evenly dispersed throughout the team. Alayna Kraus led in scoring with 18 points. The junior also had 10 rebounds to head to the state tournament with a freshly earned double-double. Megan Rennegarbe also provided much for the big win, scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 boards. Briley Rhodes brought in 11 points, Madisyn Wienstroer threw in 6, Caroline Tepe had 5 including Okawville’s lone 3-pointer of the game, and Raelyn Obermeier added 2 points.

The Lady Rockets are a well-rounded team. They each provide to the team differently. Their chemistry is also an advantage some teams do not have. “This team is extremely special because we are not only close friends on the court but off the court as well,” commented senior Megan Rennegarbe. The advantage of playing for a small school is allowing for better chemistry for the players as they all are close friends. “You can tell that we all care about each other and want the best for each teammate. I believe that’s what makes us successful.”

For the program’s first appearance at the state tournament in 17 years, the Lady Rockets will be coached by first-year head coach Haylee Bowers. “I am the lucky one who gets to coach them,” stated Coach Bowers. “Playing in a super doesn’t happen to every team. I was just taking it all in. The atmosphere was electric and our community pushed us through.” Bowers, formerly known as Haylee Althoff, was a stand-out Lady Rocket basketball player herself. She will now have a bigger role on the court this year. “I know my players are ready and have the abilities to make good things happen. Us coaches are going to prepare them the best we can, but I trust our players will give it their all,” explained Bowers.

The Lady Rockets will head to Redbird Arena in Normal, Illinois to compete in the IHSA 1A State Tournament. Okawville’s first game will be played on Thursday, March 2 at 10 a.m. against Galena, last year’s state runner-up. The other two schools competing in class 1A are Christopher and Champaign (St. Thomas More). A Lady Rocket win would result in advancement to the state championship game on Saturday, March 4 at 11 a.m. A loss would put Okawville in the third-place game on Thursday at 7 p.m.

A fan bus for students is planned to transport students to and from the state tournament to cheer along the sidelines in the O-Zone. The O-Zone student section will also be facing down in the IHSA Student Section Showdown this Saturday in Redbird Arena at Illinois State University. The winner of the 1A/2A showdown will be announced in the 2A state championship game at halftime. 

Good luck to our Lady Rockets and O-Zone this weekend at the IHSA State Tournament! Bring home the hardware!

Raelyn Obermeier (11) shoots a 3.
Caroline Tepe (9) guards Havana at the top of the key.
Lady Rocket bench gets into the game to cheer on their teammates.
Madisyn Wienstroer (11) prepares to shoot a free throw.
Coach Bowers coaches defense from the sidelines.
O-Zone roller coaster led by Jared Juenger (12).
Briley Rhodes (12) drives to the basket.
O-Zone students keep their energy high during the game.
Many students made the nearly 3-hour drive to support the Lady Rockets.
The O-Zone joins the state-bound Lady Rockets.
A well-deserved celebration on the court after the big win!