After a college basketball career which included state stops in Ina and Champaign followed by several seasons in eastern Europe as a professional, Bec Harris has returned home to Mascoutah.
Harris, a 2004 graduate of Mascoutah and one of the greatest athletes in school history, has been named as Indians new girls basketball coach. Harris takes over the Indians coaching duties from longtime coach Terry Moeller, who resigned following the 2015-16 season.
A four-time Mississippi Valley Conference player and career scoring leader with 1,732 points at Mascoutah, Harris takes over a program which finished 16-13 and knocked off state-ranked Triad in the first round of the Class 3A Regional before falling to a Highland team which placed third in the Class 3A State Tournament in March.
Harris was anxious to get her first look at the players currently in the Indians program on Monday as play began in the Southwestern Illinois College Summer League.
“I think we’ve got more talent coming back than people think we do,” Harris said. “I’m happy and excited about the opportunity to coach at Mascoutah High School. If you would have asked me 10 to 15 years ago if this was the scenario I would see myself in at this point, I would probably have have said no. But things happen for a reason and I’m glad to be coaching and working with young kids and hopefully helping them become better players and better people.
“I’m looking forward to being the coach of this basketball program.”
The playing days
Harris, 30, was a four-year starter and four-time all conference player at Mascoutah where she set numerous single season and career records. An all-state player as a senior, Harris led the Indians to a mark of 28-6 and regional and sectional tournament titles. Harris was an Indians captain in her final two years at Mascoutah.
Harris then attended Rend Lake College in Ina where she averaged over 22 points as a freshman and 23 points as a sophomore. An honorable mention All-American, Harris was inducted into the Rend Lake College Hall of Fame in 2013. Harris then transferred to the University of Illinois where after averaging 6.3 points as a junior, she started 25 of 35 games during her senior year when she averaged 10.2 points per game.
After graduating from Illinois with a degree in communications, Harris played professional basketball in the Czech Republic, Greece and Poland from 2008 to 2012. She returned to the United States where she coached at perennial national junior college power Chipola (Fla.) Junior College for a year before returning to Poland to play two more years of woman’s professional basketball.
“I was being considered a couple of coaching positions at the college level, but when those didn’t work out, I’ve just been doing what I love to do which is working with kids and helping to make them better,” Harris said.
Filling big shoes
Harris takes over the coaching duties from Moeller, who was long one of the top girls coaches in southern Illinois. Harris said Moeller who since retiring has moved to Kentucky but is still involved in coaching, has been a mentor to her and that they talk often.
“Coach Moeller is down in Kentucky where he can be closer to his grandchildren but he’s also still coaching,” Harris said. “He has always been a mentor to me. He’s doing well and we still talk often — about a lot of things.”
Harris will use this summer to watch, learn about and work with the young players in the Mascoutah program. As for her hopes for next year and the style of play the Indians will showcase, Harris is keeping her options open.
“I like the fast-pace, but we’re going to switch things up a little bit as well. I don’t want to give too much away,” Harris said, smiling. “ I know Triad will have a new coach and I know Highland’s got a lot of players back from the team which placed third in the state, so they will be good.”