For 4 years, Amboy girls basketball coach Mike McCracken schemed and plotted ways to slow down AFC all-state forward Jaynee Prestegaard.
Now he’s figuring out a way to get her buckets.
McCracken will coach the Telegraph girls team against the Gazette squad tonight at the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic. Game time is 5 p.m. at Sauk Valley Community College. It will be
followed by the boys game at approximately 7 p.m.
Prestegaard and the Raiders handed the Clippers one of only three losses this past season, on the Clippers’ home court on Dec. 12. Amboy returned the favor on Jan. 17 in Ashton in the latest installment of what has been a nip-and-tuck series.
“The Amboy-AFC rivalry is known all over,” Prestegaard said, “but it’s going to be different having coach McCracken as my coach and having Amboy girls on the team. It will be fun and interesting to watch, us having to work together instead of against each other.”
The 5-foot-11 Prestegaard gives any coach options. She has post skills like her older sisters Allison and Madeline, but can also step out and hit medium-range jumpers. McCracken’s plan is to get her the ball and let her do her thing.
“I love having big players that are mobile,” McCracken said, “so coaching Jaynee should be a lot of fun.”
Prestegaard, the SVM player of the year as a sophomore and junior, averaged 18.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.4 steals and 5.9 blocks per game this past season.
Amboy-AFC girls basketball games have been known to get a bit testy, but the animosity has mostly been among fans. McCracken noted he’s friendly with the Prestegaard family, and coached Allison in the SVM All-Star game in 2015.
“When I had Allison her senior year, we had fun, and our particular groups that year really hit it off together and had a lot of good times,” McCracken said. “The one thing I like to do in all-star games is make sure they enjoy the game. It’s an honor to play in the Sauk Valley game, and think the players need to appreciate it and go have some fun.”
That light touch was apparent in Monday’s practice, when AFC’s Alyscia Settles had her first meeting with McCracken. It was all good.
“I’m not going to lie, he seems nicer so far than seeing him on the sidelines,” Settles said. “I’m excited to see how he coaches us, being on his team versus going against him.”
The Telegraph squad is a mixture of NUIC (Settles and Prestegaard; Amboy’s Noelle Jones and Breanna Fisher; and Polo’s Lizzy Stamm) and Three Rivers (Newman’s Savannah Skinner, Madison Craft, Jenna Johnson and Chloe Klein; Bureau Valley’s Saige Barnett), and the AFC players are eager to see how they fare against a Gazette squad comprised of players from mostly bigger schools.
“I think it’s going to be so exciting that we’re going to finally put all of us together and see how well we work together,” Settles said.
“It will be different,” Prestegaard said. “It’s always fun and exciting just to throw some people together and just have a random game.”