Raucous crowd honors Kerans during final game

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Lori Kerans notched her 556th career win by racing past North Park 85-66 on Tuesday night, her final leading the Big Blue program after 32 years at the helm. Lori Kerans notched her 556th career win by racing past North Park 85-66 on Tuesday night, her final leading the Big Blue program after 32 years at the helm.

DECATUR -- You could have put a garbage can lid over the hoop at whatever end Millikin was shooting -- it still would've resulted in a Big Blue win.

Tuesday was Lori Kerans' night, and nothing was going to stop it.

Students, fans and former players packed the Griswold Center to cheer on the 32nd-year coach as she led Millikin one last time. North Park didn't stand a chance.

T-shirts spelled out "Thank you, Coach Kerans", banners hung from the stands, students roared at seemingly every Big Blue basket, and popsicle sticks propped up cutouts of the Millikin matriarch's face.

"This is reminiscent of some games years ago where she had some really big crowds," public address announcer Jan Devore said, "so it's great to see."

Devore was one of many Kerans fans in attendance who grew to admire the Newton, Ill. native and former Big Blue player not for her 556 career wins or 2004-05 national title, but for her legendary ability to form relationships.

Two seats to Devore's place at the scorer's table sat a man who knows that better than just about anyone: her father, Bob Kerans.

"We kind of have a saying in our family for years: 'Work hard, do good, make us proud and be happy,'" he said, "and I think she's tried to do that all the way through."

Tuesday's celebration of all things Coach Kerans was just the tip of the iceberg as Millikin honors her legacy. The school will be announcing plans for a formal ceremony as details are finalized.

But on Tuesday? The roar of the crowd was as authentic a salute as they come. An 85-66 thumping of a CCIW rival didn't hurt either.


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