Jabari Rogers checked out of his junior basketball campaign at Moline after playing the sophomore season, saying he needed to focus.
Moline coach Sean Taylor says Rogers now “checks all of the boxes” as he has claimed a spot in the starting lineup as a senior.
Rogers, a 6-footer, scored in double figures for the third time since becoming a starter when Harrison Bey-Buie went out with an injury seven games ago, tallying 10 in Moline’s 71-54 Western Big Six Conference victory over Galesburg at Wharton Field House on Friday night.
Not only that, but eight of Rogers’ points came in the fourth quarter after the Streaks had pulled to within six points near the end of the third. Moline led by 17 just before that Streaks spurt to make the score 47-41.
“My teammates get me involved,” Rogers said. “I just want to help out the team.”
That he is a starter says a lot for someone who missed all of his junior season.
“He made a commitment, especially during the offseason, during the summer,” after that junior year, said Moline coach Sean Taylor. The coach says Rogers has slowly become a difference-maker. “He didn’t start early on. But, he plays hard and is a good teammate. He checks all of the boxes.
“He’s obviously playing really well. He’s a wonderful defender and he’s gaining more confidence offensively.”
That’s quite a sudden addition to a Maroons lineup that has compiled a 16-2 record and is 5-0 in the Big Six. They now have won nine in a row since a loss in the Genesis Shootout.
Moline placed four starters in double figures, and Treyton Lamphier just missed with nine points. Deonte Billups led the way with 25 points, to go with 11 rebounds. Drew Wiemers added 13 points and Brody Harding joined Rogers at the 10 mark.
“Right now, everything we do, we are doing well,” said Taylor. “But, we need to do everything better.”
That includes not letting teams back into a game when it looks as if it's going to be a blowout. Moline led Galesburg (10-7, 1-3) 46-29 in the third quarter when the Silver Streaks went on a 12-1 run. Moline ended the quarter with a 50-41 lead.
Free throws, and a lot of them, in the fourth quarter allowed the Maroons to let Galesburg get no closer. It was 60-51 when the Maroons added nine straight points, all from the free-throw line. The Maroons ended with 21-of-30 from the line for the game, and were 12-of-18 in the final quarter.
Galesburg got off to a very slow start, trailing 9-2, and then 15-7 at the end of the first quarter. A 10-0 run in the second quarter had Moline up 29-12, and it was 39-22 just inside the second half.
Keeping the Streaks close was point guard Nick Fields. Averaging five points per game coming in, he finished with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting. He had not converted a 3-pointer in three WB6 games before Friday, but was 2-of-3, and both makes came at times that gave the Streaks a surge.
Keith Cunningham and Jaylin McCants also scored in double figures for the Streaks, with 13 and 12 points, respectively.