Originally Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2013, 5:48 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 28, 2013, 9:05 pm

Rocks ready for regional final

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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Rock Island senior guard Brian Richardson, right, looks to drive to the basket during a Western Big 6 Conference game against Quincy on Feb. 22. The Rocks are playing in the Class 4A United Township Regional championship tonight in East Moline.

Less than 24 hours before playing in the Class 4A United Township Regional championship Friday evening, the Rock Island boys' basketball team learned its opponent.

The Rocks are not complaining, though.

Weather issues that plagued the area earlier this week forced the regional to be pushed back a day, meaning Rocky enters the championship game almost blind. With the other semifinal finishing up Thursday evening, the Rocks went through their last practice without knowing if they were playing second-seeded Peoria Richwoods or third-seeded Pekin.

"It isn't necessarily ideal, but I'd take our situation over playing back-to-back nights," Rocky coach Thom Sigel said. "They're without preparation time and rest."

Rocky certainly enjoys the perks of being the top seed.

"It doesn't guarantee anything," Sigel said, "but I wouldn't trade places."

Besides the practice day the Rocks, who earned a 72-55 victory over Moline in Wednesday's semifinal to extend their winning streak to nine games, had while the other semifinal was being played, they are taking advantage of geography. A 20-minute drive to East Moline today beats the 200-mile round trip from the Peoria area for a second consecutive night.

So the unusual circumstances do create some positives.

"We do get a whole practice and we have a whole day to rest," Rocky junior guard Trey Sigel said. "Hopefully, the other two teams beat each other up."

The problem is Rocky exited practice not knowing if Richwoods or Pekin won.

Preparing for an unknown brings some challenges, but the Rocks did prepare with some familiarity. Rocky handed Richwoods a 90-67 loss in the season opener more than three months ago and played Pekin in last year's regional semifinal.

Play Richwoods, the Rocks encounter an up-tempo opponent.

Meet Pekin, they get a deliberate-style offensive attack.

"It's not going to mess with our minds," Rocky senior guard Brian Richardson said. "We're approaching it like any other game, no matter the team."

What is important to Rocky is simply being prepared for anything.

Throughout the regular season, that is what the Rocks have done.

"A lot of the stuff we've been doing has been in preparation for the postseason so we're ready for a lot of things," Thom Sigel said. "We'll kind of focus on things we need to work on."

In simplest terms, the Rocks are more worried about themselves than anything.

"We need to focus on our teaching points and focus on the things we need to do," Thom Sigel said.

First on the list is making sure they are prepared for their fourth regional title game in five years.

"It's win or go home," Richardson said. "We're going to play as hard as we can."

No matter the opponent, the Rocks want to make sure the effort is there.

"We'll just come in, do our thing and have our sets ready," Trey Sigel said. "We know what each team does, so hopefully we'll be ready."

Adversity will not stop Rocky in its quest for the program's 34th regional championship.

Nor will weather.

"The confidence is high," Richardson said. "We don't want our season to end here. I don't think it stops (Friday)."