ROCK ISLAND — The Rock Island boys basketball team isn't where it wants to be yet, but showed some of its potential this weekend. The Rocks rolled through their Rock Island/Milan Booster Club Thanksgiving Classic with a 3-0 record.
The Rocks beat Chicago Brooks 54-49 and then plastered a very good Class 2A Riverton team 68-34 to win the tournament and improve to 3-1.
"We still have things to work on," RI coach Thom Sigel said. "We know we will see a lot of things teams will try to do to us as we move forward in the Western Big 6 Conference season."
Rock Island 54, Brooks 49: It appeared to be a walk in the part for the Rocks, grabbing a 19-point lead at halftime and scoring first to start the second half to make it 34-13. Then, things started to fall apart.
The Rocks struggled with the very physical defense as Brooks cut the lead into single digits after three quarters and pulled as close and three points in the fourth before the Rocks started handling the slapping and grabbing, and made free throws late to put away the game.
“We can’t take that long to adjust to that scramble defense,” Sigel said. “They were really trying to get out on our shooters and be physical with them. That should have opened up the inside, but we didn’t finish against their physical play at the rim.
“This is a learning experience for down the road and the next time we see a defense like that we will draw on this in the future. It is not easy for the officials to see everything or call everything, we just have to handle that physical play better. We have to finish inside and we didn’t.”
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Jordan Rice had a big day despite being hounded all day. He made five of his six shots and six free throws to lead RI with 17 points. Taurean Holtam added 15 points and 12 rebounds and Solomon Gustafson and Andrew McDuffy each had eight rebounds.
Chaz Harvey led Brooks with 21.
Rock Island 68, Riverton 34: The Rocks got started fast with three straight 3-pointers by Colton Sigel and never looked back.
All 11 Rocks who played scored with Sigel leading the way with 12 and Gustafson finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"It is really big for us to go 3-0 and win the championship here," Gustafson said. "It shows off how much talent we have and how deep we are. Our length inside is a big thing and our guards are so athletic. We think we have 11 starters, so there is no letdown any game."
Sigel agrees the depth is something his team will use a great deal and was a big part of Saturday's evening win.
"Our depth wore them down and allowed us to continue to build the lead," he said. "Colton is shooting with a lot of confidence and that gave us a good start.
"I want to say hat's off to Riverton for stepping in to our tournament late in the game. Their coach said 'We are a Class 2A team with all of our starters back and we wanted some tough games.' They just ran out of gas and we played pretty well."