Initial indications informed Rock Island boys' basketball coach Thom Sigel that six players led the team in scoring this year, a number that left him "excited."|
Over the last two weeks, the total went up by two.
"It's hard to fathom that we could do that," Sigel said.
A roster filled with capable scorers makes it possible. Even though the Rocks lack a true go-to scorer, they won their first-ever Class 4A regional using strength in numbers.
"It's great knowing our team is so balanced," Rocky senior guard Brian Richardson said. "We have winners. We all play together and can shine at the same time."
Eight players -- Richardson, Trae Babers, Raahsaan Brown, C.J. Carr, Bryce Jones, Rob Johnson, Keenan Shorter and Trey Sigel -- have led Rocky in scoring at least one time this season. Only once this season has the same player led Rocky in scoring three consecutive games.
When the Rocks won the 2011 Class 3A state title, they had two players led them in scoring. On top of that, nine players have led them in rebounding this season.
"It's a positive when everyone buys into it," said Thom Sigel, whose team meets Normal West in tonight's Class 4A Pekin Sectional semifinal at 7:30.
"They understand it doesn't have to be them every night. It's something we sold in the offseason. We thought we had seven or eight starters. ... We felt we would be at our best if we had seven or eight guys who averaged eight to 12 points. Lo and behold, we have gotten there."
So far, the Rocks have seven players averaging 5.4 points or more. Three are reaching double figures, with two more within one point or less of that mark.
Good luck trying to stop that balance.
"It's probably a headache for coaches," Richardson said.
Rocky offers that challenge because the team accepted its identity of relying on each other.
"There are no egos," Carr said. "We all know what we're capable of and who can do what. We know on any given night, somebody is going to pick up the slack."
In the last six weeks, the leading scorer has been a merry-go-round. Within that time, the Rocks have won 10 consecutive games with seven players earning team-high scoring status.
Better yet, Rocky has had a 20-point scorer only twice in those games. What that means is the Rocks are scoring in bunches rather than having one player dominate.
"When you have balance and a lot of people lead you in scoring, you're not very good. It's not always a good thing," Thom Sigel said. "But the fact we've won is what's nice. That's why you can look at it as a strength rather than a weakness. As we're winning, they don't seem to mind."
Twenty-four times this season the Rocks have won with this formula.
"We have other intangibles, but that is huge," Thom Sigel said. "That's a huge part of it."
As Sigel put it, the Rocks' starting five plus three can consistently score.
"If you focus on one, someone else will beat you," Richardson said. "That shows the balance the team has and how good we can be when everybody turns it on."
Rocky hopes the switch stays on as it stands two victories away from its third sectional title in five years. What it will take for that to happen are contributions from everyone.
The previous 28 games prove it can happen.
"We have confidence in our guys that we can doing anything," Carr said. "The sky is the limit. We want to keep rolling."
Pretty solid Rocks
The Rock Island boys' basketball team has relied on balance to win its fourth regional title in five years. Here's a look at the Rocks' single-game scoring and rebounding leaders
9: C.J. Carr
6: Brian Richardson
5: Raahsaan Brown
4: Trey Sigel
2: Trae Babers, Keenan Shorter
1: Rob Johnson, Bryce Jones
9: Raahsaan Brown, Rob Johnson
6: Keenan Shorter
5: Brian Richardson
4: C.J. Carr
2: Bryce Jones
1: Breon Hawthorne, Grant Myers, Trey Sigel
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