Joining Forces: Former, future teammates come together for Class - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Joining Forces: Former, future teammates come together for Classic

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Illinois all-star coach Eric Orne looks on at Tuesday's practice as his team prepares to the McDonalds/Herald-Whig Classic. Illinois all-star coach Eric Orne looks on at Tuesday's practice as his team prepares to the McDonalds/Herald-Whig Classic.

QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -- A roster littered with former teammates getting one last chance to play on the same team, as well as a trio of players getting a head start as college teammates, highlights the Illinois girls squad when it comes to Saturday's annual McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic.

Together, Quincy High's Arai'ya Dade, Central-Southeastern's Torie Conover, and Pittsfield's Shea O'Brien make up 30% of the Illinois roster.

All three are heading to John Wood in the fall as part of another talented, and tri-state heavy, recruiting class for Lady Blazers head coach Norman Rodriguez.

Come Saturday the three get a chance to play together for the very first time.

"It's nice because we'll have an advantage when we go into John Wood," O'Brien told WGEM Sports.

"Obviously we're going to play 40 minutes together and we kind of know the in and outs of each other already. That'll be nice."
 
According to Dade, "I feel like playing with Torie and Shea gives me an advantage since we're getting to play together right now. It's kind of a boost getting to know their strengths and weaknesses before we get to play with each other."

Conover added: "It's been nice to get to know them and hang out with them so when we go into practice it won't be as intimidating."

As always bragging rights will be up for grabs this weekend as Illinois looks for victory against a Missouri team which has loads of talents in their own right.

Illinois head coach Eric Orne says a win his players' final high school game is a big deal.

"Missouri is always well prepared for this game," Orne said.  "They take this game very seriously and I know that we have to be ready for anything."

"To play the game of basketball you always have to have a competitive side," added Illinois guard and QND alum Kassidy Gengenbacher.

"I know that everyone here is going to give 100 percent, and I hope that we can come out with a win."

The girls game tips off at 5:00 p.m. Saturday with the boys contest to follow on ESPN 1440.

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