Having grown up in Rock Falls prior to coaching its prep boys' basketball team, Thom Sigel naturally views Sterling as a natural rival.|
Though long removed from his days on the Rockets' sidelines, that feeling still remains for Sigel, whose Rocks resumed play Saturday after a week off, welcoming the Golden Warriors to the Rock Island Fieldhouse.
Playing for the first time since falling to state finalist North Chicago in the State Farm Holiday Classic title game, Rocky got back on a winning roll at Sterling's expense with an 86-32 victrory, the 12th in 15 games for Sigel's squad.
"I grew up and coached there, so the rivalry's still there whenever I see (Sterling),'' Sigel said. "It gets the juices flowing, especially when I can get a win up there. But in the big picture, we just wanted to get 2013 off on the right foot.''
Squaring off against a Golden Warrior club that was coming off a Northern Illinois Big 12 West win Friday over Streator, Rock Island had Sterling (7-9) reeling quickly when it hit its first three shots for a 6-0 start, prompting Sterling coach Jim Preston to call a quick 30-second timeout.
That didn't help matters much, as junior guards C.J. Carr and Trey Sigel each scored six first-period points to help fuel a 16-0 run that staked Rocky to a 28-10 lead after one period. The second quarter saw the Rocks string together 15 unanswered points as they built a commanding 53-22 halftime advantage.
"With no week of school, it was kind of an up-and-down week of practice for us, but there were times we got to work on some things,'' Coach Sigel said. "We didn't block out well, but other than that, we played with intensity and executed really well, and were able to get the lead early. With Sterling coming off a win Friday, to be able to do those things was big.''
Senior standout Brian Richardson paced the Rocky attack, hitting on all nine of his shots and going 3-for-3 at the free throw line to post a game-high 21 points. He also had four steals along with teammate Trae Babers, as the Rocks had 17 thefts and forced the Golden Warriors into 23 turnovers.
Comparatively, the Rocks lost the ball just three times themselves.
Carr seconded Richardson with a 17-point, five-rebound, three-steal outing, with Sigel, Keenan Shorter (five boards) and Babers each adding eight points. All but one of the 13 Rock Island players that saw minutes were able to crack the scoring column.
"We played hard and moved the ball well,'' Coach Sigel said. "It was a combination of them not playing well and us clicking right from the get-go.''
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