The East Peoria girls basketball team is trying to find its identity.
It seems that the answer may translate from another sport.
The Lady Raiders (2-9) have struggled finding ways to win this season.
In their nine losses this season, seven of them have been by double digits.
But coach Khassandrae Brown has seen consistent improvement in her squad over the course of the season.
“We have been executing our gameplans,” Brown said. “We have had pretty good ball movement and we are fighting hard for rebounds.”
The basketball team is composed of mostly softball players, Brown said.
“Right now, almost everyone on the basketball team is a softball player,” Brown said. “They play basketball to stay in shape.”
East Peoria softball has enjoyed a strong run in the past six seasons with a record of 138-23.
Last season, Lady Raiders softball went 26-8 before losing in the Sweet 16 to Mid-Illini foe Washington.
This success has given East Peoria girls athletics a boost in confidence, which now is flowing into the basketball program.
“(Softball) helps them be competitive all the time,” Brown said. “They carry their softball rivalries over into basketball and that works to our advantage.”
Two players in particular stand out, as now-seniors Ashley Emert and Remi Fergsuon each played key roles in the success of East Peoria softball last season.
Emert will continue her softball career at Illinois State University, but plays a major role in Lady Raider basketball.
“Ashley is our go to player right now and has been most of the year,” Brown said. “She’s very good at creating her own shots and not relying on anyone else. Her abilities to see the floor and move the ball are also great.”
With the senior leadership of Emert and Ferguson, the Lady Raiders also have a good amount of underclassmen that they are trying to promote through the program.
“Our older girls have those competitive feelings from (softball rivalries), but the younger girls on our team aren’t really there yet with that competitive edge,” Brown said. “The (upperclassmen) are fostering the younger kids, so that will bring good things to the program."
Brown says there are two main things that her team needs to work on in order to improve going forward.
“Two of the things we’ve talked about is being a good teammate — cheering each other on and creating energy for the game and being genuinely happy for each other,” Brown said. “The other thing is building our basketball IQ. Those two things combined will create a trickle down to our younger levels."