Legacy continues: More Hall of Fame honors for the Maine West girls basketball program
She made the "shot heard 'round Des Plaines" ... via Champaign.
Moira Kennelly Pietrowski was a big part of the start of the Maine West girls basketball dynasty.
A sharpshooting sophomore guard at the time, she hit a rushed runner along the baseline at Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois as time expired in the 1988 Class AA state semifinals against perennial power Marshall.
"I just knew time was running out. It wasn't a total prayer, but I knew I had to get the shot off. I took a couple dribbles and I was fortunate enough to make it," the 48-year-old Pietrowski, now a lawyer in suburban Cleveland, said excitedly. "And to do it against Marshall, and to know that it got us to the state championship game, that was a pretty big moment, probably my most memorable individual moment in high school.
"I never think about individual accomplishments. Whenever anyone says anything about my high school days, I always think about what a good team I got to play on. What a great and special team."
What a special program.
That shot, which is a big reason Pietrowski is being honored with an induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, blew the top off Assembly Hall that early Saturday morning and sent a large Maine West contingent into a wild celebration.
It also advanced Maine West to its first state championship game later that day.
The birth of a power
The Warriors, led by Moira's older sister Nancy, then defeated York for the 1988 state championship and a perennial power was born. "Maine West" and "girls basketball excellence" have been synonymous ever since.
The program, under the direction of the legendary Derril Kipp until 2016, and now Kim deMarigny, has won 72 percent of its games since that 35-0 1988 state championship season.
The Warriors also put together another undefeated 35-0 Class 4A state championship season in 2019.
All together, Maine West has two state titles and seven state places, and nearly 100 girls who went on to play college basketball, such as Pietrowski and Nancy Kennelly Olson, who both played at Northwestern alongside the center from the 1988 state championship team, Heather Ertel.
And this year, the program is adding to its legacy.
Two other former players -- Megan Edwards, who went on to play at Eastern Illinois, and Kerry Wegrzyn -- will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Plus, longtime coach Jerry ("Stoney") Stonequist, a loyal under-level coach in the girls program at Maine West for nearly 40 years, is in the class, as is longtime Maine West team manager Nick Ladas, who is being inducted in the "friends of basketball" category.
A lasting impact
"That shot that Moira made, I don't think there has ever been a more impactful shot in girls basketball," Stonequist said. "That got things going and then Derril really built the program and he's the one who really built Illinois girls basketball.
"We got the summer league at Maine West going, we got the Maine West Observation tournament going where we'd get more than 130 teams and between 50 and 100 college coaches to attend each year and we did that for about 25 years. It was a lot of work, but it just grew and it was so much fun.
"Derril brought me in at the very beginning, and I'm just so glad I got to be a part of it."
Stonequist, who joined Kipp in Kipp's second season in 1982-'83 and is now beginning his 39th season, was never officially on the varsity staff at Maine West. But that was by choice and by design.
He preferred to teach and watch younger players grow, and help shape the program from behind the scenes, and from the bottom up. Stonequist, a longtime middle school teacher in the district who retired from teaching but is still coaching in the program, has coached freshmen and sophomores and the JV team.
He certainly had the ear of Kipp, who died at 71 in July 2016 from pancreatic cancer.
"I don't know if there is a more loyal man or a more hardworking man than 'Stoney,' " deMarigny said. "I've known him for 12 years, and he's been retired the entire time. I don't know if this is what retirement is supposed to be like, but Stoney is always working. He's always there, always helping us. Anything that Derril would need, Stoney would do it. Anything I need, Stoney does it. He bleeds blue and gold.
"He just loves to see the kids succeed. He loves being a teacher of the game, and he's still a student of the game. Here he is in his 70s and he's been doing this for almost 40 years, and Stoney still watches videos, and learns new drills. He never says, 'Well, this is how we've always done it.' He wants to stay up to date, he wants to keep growing."
Completing the trifecta
Stonequist is the third member of the Maine West girls staff to go into the IBCA Hall of Fame, joining Kipp and longtime scorekeeper Mary Dankowski, who is still with the program.
"Stoney completes the trilogy," deMarigny said with a giggle. "They were all the best of friends, those three, and they were so serious about the success of Maine West girls basketball. To learn from them has been so important to me.
"Stoney is getting some of the accolades that he absolutely should get. This is such a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication that Derril and his staff put in over the last 35 to 40 years. They helped bring girls basketball to the forefront."
Pietrowski and Stonequist say that they owe so much in their life to their time with the Maine West girls basketball program.
"Coach Kipp went above and beyond to help us improve and get the exposure we needed with college coaches," Pietrowski said. "There's no way I would have gotten a scholarship to Northwestern without him. He made me more of a complete player."
Stonequist says Kipp made him a more complete coach, which has been his life's calling.
"I would be lost without coaching," said Stonequist, who thanks his wife Kathleen of 45 years, who died over the summer, for being understanding of how much time he devoted to the program. "I thought I knew basketball before I met Derril. But I learned so much more from Derril about what to teach and how to teach it. Over 39 years, I have so many good memories."
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