A RIVALRY RECAST: NIEMANN, HALL TEAM UP TO REVITALIZE WESTERN ILLINOIS WOMENS BASKETBALL
They were your 2008 and 2009 KHQA Girls Basketball Players of the Year, respectively.
And while Tori Niemann and Marley Hall never actually crossed paths on the basketball floor, there was a palpable rivalry between them
So much so that Tori once cornered me at Superfan Shootout to see if we could change the schedule so her Canton Lady Tigers could play West Hancock heads up.
My how the times have changed....
Tori Niemann: "We always talk about that. Marley's that one girl that....I never liked her in high school. But I didn't play against her. I didn't know her and now were roommates. We're great friends. So it's been an awesome experience just getting the opportunity to do this."
It may have seemed unimaginable five years ago, but Tori Niemann and Marley Hall are in fact teammates now in Macomb...and the first truly home grown fan base hooks Leatherneck Basketball, mens or womens, have had since JD Summers.
JD Gravina: "Getting Tori and Marley, I mean, really big name Local Kids I think was important to us. Getting a couple of kids from Iowa...Mallory Boyle was picked the preseason Freshman of the Year. I think that getting that local can really energize the fan base."
Marley Hall: "It was actually a few weeks ago that I was back home at Caseys....you know, the only thing that they have in Warsaw, I actually had four out of five people in there say they were excited to come to games. So I am really getting that and it's really exciting."
Tori Niemann: "Definitely. I've had a lot of local people say that they are excited to come watch. It's not a far drive from both me and Marley's hometowns. They are all excited to watch Marley Hall, watch me play together. So they are really excited to see local kids, local community and it's going to be fun."
JD Gravina: "And that's one of the reasons we are playing Quincy (University) in an exhibition...even though I swore not to do that. I went and did it because I think that is so great for fanst to see girls like Tori Niemann and Marley Hall play against girls like Lucy Cramsey again and I think it will be a fun game to watch."
Which brings us to the more pressing question: What will Tori and Mrley bring to the court for the Leathernecks? Certainly enthusiasm after both spent a year sitting out seemingly interminable Division One transfers: Tori from Mizzou, Marley from Illinois State