It was a special night in what was Derril Kipp's home away from home.
The Maine West spectator gymnasium was filled with fans and alumni of the school's girls basketball program that was so masterfully directed by the school's Hall of Fame coach, who passed away in July from pancreatic cancer.
The many supporters of one of the winningest coaches (788 wins in 35 seasons) in IHSA girls basketball history were on hand for the dedication of a legacy wall and memorial marker outside the gymnasium doors.
While the Warriors won their Central Suburban North opener 51-27 over Deerfield, this was a night geared more to the coach who developed one of the winningest programs in state history.
"This turnout, this event, it's just unimaginable," said Kipp's wife Marianne to the big crowd at halftime with her family standing nearby. "We are so thankful to everyone, and I know Derril would be, too."
Sophomore Rachel Kent, the top scorer from last year's team, scored a game-high 13 points with 8 rebounds on Friday followed by juniors Jessica Riedl (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Alisa Fallon (10 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).
"We were coming off a tough loss to Evanston (54-40 on Tuesday night), the team which gave us our last loss under coach Kipp last season," Kent said. "So we wanted to do this for coach Kipp. We played as a team, which is what he would have wanted us to do."
Teamwork was always the trademark of Kipp's teams which advanced to the state finals seven times and won it all with an undefeated record (35-0) in the 1988 Class AA state tournament.
Members of that team were on hand as well as players from his first team, in 1981.
"As I wrote on his legacy wall, 'lives were forever changed because he invests in people,' " said Mary McMahon Georgoulis, an all-stater on Kipp's first team. "He has such an impact on his players. He was all about developing people to be the best they could be in life. He set the bar high and you followed."
Those who followed Maine West girls basketball knew Kipp as a 'true legend' just like the poster read in the gym.
Raffles were conducted for the 'Derril Kipp' scholarship fund and videos were being shown in the gym foyer of past interviews with Kipp. There w were cheerleaders and a halftime dance show.
"It was bittersweet," said Maine West coach Kim DeMarigny of the tribute night which included former Warrior Julia Huinker singing the national anthem. "Derril would have loved this and been so engaged and relishing in everything that was happening. This is the way girls basketball is supposed to be."
DeMarigny credits the team's 7-1 start to Kipp.
"It is a testament to the girls' hard work and everything that Derril has previously done," she said. "I'm just stepping in to what he created."
He created a legacy that will live forever in Des Plaines.
"It's not just the number of wins, championships, honors or scholarships," Marianne told the crowd. "It's his perception to see all the gifts each of his players were given. It's passion to defend you. He stood by his players, friends, family and all of us.
"Now we want to thank you for standing by him."
Without Maine West principal Dr. Audrey Haugan, Marianne said Friday night could never have been a possibility.
Among the many others she thanked were former player Marlen Garcia and her husband Jim Murphy for making everything happen by starting a tribute page on Facebook.
"Even though he didn't want to quit coaching, Derril would say 'I think I've finally found a girl (DeMarigny) who is great for these girls," Marianne said.
Just like Derril was for 35 seasons.
"This season is dedicated to Derril," DeMarigny said. "When we get to our 12th win, we will celebrate that as Derril's 800th."