Rock Island’s “big three” helped shake up the Western Big Six boys basketball standings on Friday.
Randy Tucker, Ben Ellis and JaMir Price combined for all but four of the Rocks’ 38 second-half points, rallying Rock Island to a 63-52 victory at the Rock Island Fieldhouse that knocked Moline off of its perch on top of the conference standings.
“Down the stretch, they didn’t get rattled. When we got close, their big three, they stepped up and didn’t let it get away,’’ Maroons coach Sean Taylor said. “We lost to a team that’s playing really good basketball right now and they played great tonight.’’
There was a steadiness in Rock Island’s approach that did make a difference, first cutting into a 19-10 deficit midway through the second quarter and then overcoming a 31-25 halftime deficit.
The Rocks had some work to do against a Moline team that helped itself with a hot shooting start, a collective 11-of-22 effort that included four 3-point baskets in the second quarter.
Drew Wiemers knocked down three of those baskets from behind the arc, scoring 13 of his team-high 16 points in the first half.
“We were only down six at the half, but we almost had to convince our guys that we were right there in this game,’’ Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said. “The way Moline was knocking down shots, it seemed worse than it really was.’’
Three-point baskets on consecutive possessions by Price and Tucker in the first two minutes of the second half moved the Rocks within 33-31. When Ellis took a feed from Price and laid the ball through with 3 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third, Rock Island took a 39-38 lead.
“We kept working in the second half, just kept doing the things we do inside and out,’’ Price said. “Eventually, it got us where we needed to be.’’
A 3-pointer by Charlie Allison sent the Rocks into the final quarter with a 42-38 lead.
The Maroons finished with just seven points in the third quarter, hitting just two of the 13 shots they attempted over the first 11 1/2 minutes of the second half.
“You’re not going to beat a good team playing well when you have a seven-point quarter,’’ Taylor said. “That made it tough. The guys kept battling.’’
Moline (17-6, 6-2 Western Big Six) trailed 43-41 after Jeff McInnis scored on a drive with 5:42 remaining in the game, but Tucker buried one of his four 3-point baskets and then scored on a drive as Rock Island regained a 48-41 advantage with 4:07 to go.
Tucker finished with 19 points to lead Rock Island (12-8, 4-2), but he had plenty of help.
Ellis had 18 to go with 10 rebounds and Price finished off a 17-point game by hitting five-of-eight free throws in the fourth quarter.
It was all part of an effort Ellis said began long before the Maroons arrived Friday, helped by the looks the Rocks’ scout team provided in practice.
“We’ve had real good practices the last couple of weeks and that’s carrying over to games,’’ Ellis said. “We’re coming out with the right mindset. At Moline, we didn’t finish. Tonight, we did, and a lot of that had to do with how we prepared.’’
Sigel senses that, too.
“The last three weeks, guys are buying into what we’re trying to do and that is translating into our play,’’ Sigel said.