In most ways, Ethan Happ's senior season in a Rockridge boys' basketball uniform was one to envy.|
A unanimous first team Associated Press Class 2A All-State selection, in addition to likewise sweeping the voting for both first team All-Conference and Player of the Year honors in the Three Rivers Conference's South Division, the Rockets' 6-foot-8 center seemingly capped his prep career on a stellar note.
However, a season in which Happ averaged a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds per game, along with four blocked shots, three assists and three steals per outing, ended in a way the University of Wisconsin-bound standout and his teammates hadn't hoped for.
Ranked No. 1 in 2A from the start of the 2013-14 campaign, Rockridge rode that billing through a 28-game winning streak and on to the Stanford Olympia Sectional finals, where a 56-55 setback to eventual 2A state champion Bloomington Central Catholic left the Rockets at 28-1 and Happ with an incomplete feeling.
"At the beginning of the season, we had one goal in mind, and that was to win a state championship,'' said Happ, the Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. "Coming up short, that's going to stick with me for the rest of my life. I'd give up anything to (stay) with this group of guys, and to get one more shot at it.''
Does the sectional loss still sting?
"Yeah. I mean, making the trip to Peoria to watch Alex (teammate Alex Martin) shoot (in the Three-Point Showdown state prelims) and watching Central Catholic at their state shootaround, you could tell by the looks on the guys' faces that we all thought we should be in that spot. This will sting for a long time.''
Does the loss detract from the season's accomplishments?
" think we'll look back on this a couple of years from now, and realize how special the season was, but personally, I'd trade all 28 of our wins to get that one that would have advanced us to the super-sectional.''
"How we beat Monmouth-Roseville pretty handily in our first sectional game. I've played against Trayvon (Smith) and Martel (Hunter) since junior high, and to finally beat them in such a fashion was a great feeling.''
Looking forward to playing at Wisconsin?
"I'm definitely excited for that. It'll be a great experience for me to get up there, and start with another family to add to the one I have now. At the same time, it's bittersweet in that I'll be leaving family and friends here, and not get to see them as often. It's sad for that to have to end.''