In Rock Island boys’ basketball circles, the term “starting lineup” is out and “rotation” is in.
“We’re not about who our five starters are,” said RI coach Thom Sigel.
Case in point was Friday night’s Western Big Six opener at Rock Island Fieldhouse, with the Rocks pulling out a 60-48 victory over the Galesburg Silver Streaks. The Rocks had four in double figures, with two being the first and third off the bench in sophomore Jordan Rice and junior Taurean Holtam.
That became necessary when leading scorer JaMir Price, who finished with 16 points, got into second-half foul trouble. It was then that Rice scored six of his 11 points and Holtam had all of his 10.
Starter Jamal Randle rounded out the double-figure scorers, also with 10.
“We got on our heels a bit when they went to a box and one, or a diamond and one, on JaMir,” said Sigel. That also coincided with Price being whistled for his third and fourth fouls.
“Obviously, that’s when everyone else has to step up,” the RI coach said. “We moved the ball and everybody else makes shots. We have to have those guys” step up in situations like that.
Price, who made 6-of-8 field goals but only scored one bucket and a pair of free throws in the second half, liked what he saw when he was idled.
“It’s a good thing to have those young guys take charge and step up,” the senior said. “We have a very unique team in that Coach knows that the bench can step up. Even when one of us has an off night, others can pick it up.”
The Rocks led 25-17 at halftime, but the Streaks managed their first lead of the game with 5:38 left in the third quarter, 28-27. The Rocks led just 46-44 when Price got his fourth foul with 5:48 left in the game.
Enter Holtam, who struggled through the three quarters, shooting 1-for-7. His fourth quarter carried the Rocks to their fourth victory in five games, with a nonconference game against Peoria High slated for 6:30 tonight. The lanky junior poured in eight points and over half of his team-high seven rebounds in that fourth frame.
“We have talked, as a team, about being mature,” Sigel said, “and playing through bad stretches. We had an eight-point lead at halftime that seemed like it could have been 18. Galesburg was just hanging around and took advantage of that in the third quarter.”
The Silver Streaks, who went 4-0 in their own tournament and didn’t score below 68 points, poured in 22 points in the third quarter with Galesburg’s own Price, Eric, igniting the charge. He scored nine of his team-high 16 points in that stretch, with RI up 41-39 at the break.
Galesburg’s Price, though, slowed down in the fourth, hitting just 1-of-6 shots, as the Rocks’ depth surged with a 14-4 run to finish it.