Rockets dominate Titans
From start to finish, the Rockridge Rockets dominated Wednesday night in a 70-48 victory over Monmouth-Roseville at the IHSA Class 2A Farmington Sectional.
The Rockets jumped out to a commanding 12-4 lead in the first quarter and led 35-23 at intermission. Bryan Heath led the Rockets with a game-high 22 points, Luke Johnson had 15 and Gentry Whiteman added 12. Heath came out of the game with 2:29 left on the clock and a commanding 66-42 lead.
"We just did not bring the level of defensive play that we needed to tonight to win," said M-R coach Chuck Grant, whose team finished the season 19-10 after the sectional semi-final game. "They came out with a lot more confidence than we did and we came out tentative, and got ourselves in a little bit of a hole. That's not a good place to be against a club like that."
Seniors Braeden Wollbrink (11 points) and James Rogers (10 points) each shot 5-of-10 from the field to lead the Titans. Wollbrink also had a team-high 6 rebounds for the Titans. Guards Sam Gillen and Dee Coleman also added 3 steals apiece for the Titans.
For Rockridge, Johnson stepped up big in the second quarter with a couple threes and 8 points. His 3-pointer with 5:34 left before halftime gave the Rockets a 21-10 lead.
Rockridge climbed to 28-1 on the season and will play for the sectional championship on Friday night against Winnebago.
"Monmouth is a great team and we knew we had to be ready to play," Johnson said, after the victory. "Coach (Toby) Whiteman kind of lets us go sometimes (on offense) and we are a jumpshot team, but our main focus is defense and it always has been. It wasn't our best defensive performance tonight but we'll fix that for Friday night."
Added Whiteman, about his Rockets team, "I challenged them at halftime and we played a lot better in the second half. We had to take care of the pressure and Monmouth definitely brings the pressure.
With 41 seconds left in the game, M-R senior Drew Kane came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer to help cut the Rockets lead to 70-46.
Other notes: In attendance was MRJH coach Chad Carlson who has coached eighth-grade basketball for the past 20 years. He still remembers the junior high games against Rockridge and the sharpshooting Heath.
"Bryan (Heath) was a nice player — really athletic all the way through," Carlson said. "He was a jumper back in junior high and we had some battles with Rockridge. He was a good team player and had a good skill-set for the game, even at a young age. He played within himself and his teammates."