GENESEO -- The Rockridge boys' basketball team delivered the first punch, and that was enough.|
Putting the Geneseo Maple Leafs back on their heels, the Rockets blew out the hosts, 70-35, to get their 20th win of the season.
Wanting to erase the memory of an upset loss to Illini West last Friday, Rockridge was focused on pushing the intensity in the first five minutes.
Well, it worked for the first 20 minutes. The Rockets outscored Geneseo 53-13 through the first 2 1/2 quarters, shooting the lights out behind their big man, Wisconsin commit, Ethan Happ.
Happ ended the game with 24 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks, four steals and three assists and was as impressive as can be.
In the first half alone, Rockridge shot better than 70 percent from the floor and forced 11 turnovers.
"Our defense turns into offense," Happ said. "When you're playing good defense and getting the ball up and down the court, shots are going to fall."
For the Rockets, the bounce back was welcomed and the loss to Illini West appears to be a distant memory.
"We haven't been playing with a sense of urgency and tonight we set the tone on defense," Rockets coach Toby Whiteman said. "Losing like we did last Friday was an eye-opener. We know everyone' out to get us and we're always going to get everyone's best game."
It wasn't Geneseo's best effort of the season though.
The Leafs (8-13) shot just 35 percent from the floor and looked timid.
"We got on our heels and didn't compete like we have been," Leafs coach Brad Storm said. "We took a step back. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a couple steps forward; that was a bad team to take a step back against."
Jordan Starkey led the way with 10 points for Geneseo, and sophomore center Drew Himmelman played impressively, but that's where any highlights end for the Leafs.
For Rockridge (20-3), TJ Henry added 15 points and Bryan Heath scored a dozen.
Although the outcome was never in doubt, Rockridge kept Happ and other starters in for the majority of the second half, only pulling them when Geneseo went to the end of the bench with three minutes to play.
"We've been burned in the past with pulling guys too early and other teams keeping starters in and pressing," Whiteman said. "We have a policy now not to clear the bench until the other team does. We weren't trying to run up the score."