Maine West updates its downstate legacy
Maine West's girls basketball team has landed a spot in the final four of the IHSA state finals for the first time since 1993.
The coach that season was Derril Kipp, the legendary hall of famer who directed this year's juniors and seniors on the Warriors' 2015-16 team.
He passed away following that '15-16 season but his spirit has lived on.
"He was an incredible influence on me," said Kim de Marigny, who was Kipp's assistant for six seasons before taking over the program for the 2016-17 season, during which she led the Warriors to a sectional title.
The Warriors then fell in the supersectional to Geneva, which went on to win the top prize over Edwardsville.
As fate would have it, the Warriors (31-1) are facing the same Geneva (29-3) team again in Friday's 7:15 p.m. semifinal at Illinois State's Redbird Arena.
The first semifinal features Montini (33-2) against Edwardsville (30-0) at 5:30 p.m., meaning Maine West is the only new team in this year's Final Four.
The last time the Warriors played in a state semifinal they wound up second to Marshall.
That was the seventh time Kipp had steered West into the state finals.
"Coach Kipp was my mentor," said de Marigny, whose two-year record is 60-4. "It was quite an honor being his assistant for six years. Everywhere we went he was a legend. I can't say enough good things about him."
More things will certainly be said on Saturday when Kipp's undefeated 1988 Class AA state champion (35-0) will be recognized during halftime of the Class 4A third-place game.
Kipp's wife Marianne cut the final two strands of the net at Monday's supersectional win over Lake Zurich at Hersey High School.
"Just having Marianne at the games, we feel like we have a little of Derril with us," de Marigny said. "We try to include Marianne in a lot of things we do because she was such an inspiration and she cares so much about the program just like Derril did. They were a pair."
Maine West has quite a pair in Division I Daily Herald all-area honorary captains -- Alisa Fallon and Rachel Kent, who credits Kipp with honing her skills to become a Division I prospect.
The Warriors dedicated the season to Kipp.
"We're doing it all for him," Kent said "I think he is just watching over us and helping the team get to where we are now."
The Warriors are in a position that was very familiar to fans from 1982 to 1993 when they appeared seven times in the Final Four.