NAPERVILLE -- Once the Rock Island boys' basketball team overcame the initial double-digit deficit on Saturday afternoon, it quickly hit the restart button.|
The second time around, there would be no repeat.
A third-quarter lapse provided another obstacle, but the Rocks cleared it with ease. Rocky responded in a positive way, playing its best in the fourth quarter during a 70-58 win over Proviso West at the Naperville North Shootout.
Rocky ended the game by outscoring the Panthers 38-16.
"As a coach, you always want your team to play flawlessly," Rocky coach Thom Sigel said. "Now that it's over, I'm kind of glad we went through that. We've had a couple easy wins coming out of Christmas. I don't know if that attributed to our start, but we weren't good. That was a good thing for us ... to face adversity and battle through it."
Once Sigel exited the post-game locker room, he immediately mentioned a 53-52 loss at Galesburg last month that was reminiscent of the start to this one. Unlike that night, the Rocks (14-3) overcame an 18-7 first-quarter deficit and still trailed 42-32 in the third to win their third consecutive game.
Each time Rocky trailed by double digits, it made a run to tie the game.
"We responded in a way we didn't at Galesburg," Rocky junior guard Trey Sigel said. "If you want to go deep in the postseason, we've got to make sure we do that."
Overcoming the 18-7 deficit took the entire second quarter, plus the first two minutes of the third. Trey Sigel's 3-pointer capped a 22-8 run that gave the Rocks a 29-26 lead with 6:27 left in the quarter.
After that, the Panthers (6-8) constantly scored in transition, building a 42-32 advantage over the next four minutes. From there, it was all Rocky.
Trae Babers sandwiched two 3-pointers around a pair of Rob Johnson layups as the Rocks tied the game with a 10-0 run to end the third. Babers opened the fourth with a bucket, providing Rocky a 44-42 lead it would not relinquish.
"We played with more energy," Thom Sigel said. "We moved the ball and were more aggressive offensively. When we do that, we get better shots and make them."
In the fourth quarter, Rocky scored on all but three possessions and hit seven of its 10 shot attempts. The Rocks also went 12 of 15 from the foul line.
As much as the offensive execution and clutch shooting helped the Rocks snag the win, Trey Sigel did have a significant impact. He hit his last six 3-pointers -- including a 30-footer as the first-half clock expired to cut the Rocky deficit to 26-24 -- and tallied a game-high 22 points.
"Huge. Big, big plays," Rocky senior guard Brian Richardson said of his teammate. "Good players make big plays, and that's what he did."
The Rocks followed his lead. Richardson (12 points) and Babers (10) each reached double figures, and Keenan Shorter added nine points. As a team, Rocky shot 57.1 percent (24 of 44) from the field.
That figure is amazing considering the Rocks missed seven of their 10 shot attempts, all four free throws and committed seven turnovers in the first quarter.
"None of us were really playing well," Richardson said. "We were trying to make it through the best way we could."
Looking back, the Rocks did so in a positive way.
"This is how teams grow," Thom Sigel said. "I don't want to be in this situation a lot. But if we are, we can have an understanding and be a mature team and just play through it."
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