For the first time since the 1977-78 season a Rockford East boys basketball team is going to the State Tournament. The E-Rabs clinched a trip Tuesday night by winning the NIU 4A Super-Sectional.
The E-Rabs defeated the Geneva Vikings 70-62 handing Geneva only its second loss of the season. The game didn’t start out well for the E-Rabs. Geneva scored almost at will from the start on an variety of hard-cutting layups, offensive putbacks and three-point baskets. The E-Rabs trailed 16-6 after the first quarter and 31-17 in the second quarter.
But Sincere Parker came up with a steal midway through the second quarter and the East junior took it the length of the floor for a dunk to spark the E-Rabs. Markariouis “Biggie” Luster followed shortly after that with a fastbreak basket helping East whittle Geneva’s lead down to five.
In the second half Parker put the E-Rabs on his shoulders. He started sinking three-pointers from deep behind the arc helping East eventually go up by ten. Parker finished the game with 27 points. He made 5 of 9 three-point attempts. Geneva was never able to mount a strong enough push to rally. The Vikings hot shooting from the first half cooled off considerably. The Vikings shot 50% from the field in the first quarter, 60% in the second and then tailed off to 42.9% in the third and 44.2% in the fourth.
The E-Rabs punched their ticket to state and they added to their school record win total with number 34.
“We’ve been through so much as a group and I knew going into hafltime I knew we were going to come out and win this thing,” said East coach Roy Sackmaster. “We were just a different team and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Oh wow! Wow!”
“It just feels great,” said East senior guard Chris Burnell. “It’s (going to State) something that hasn’t been done in Rockford so many times and for us to be one of the teams to do it it makes you feel great. I’m at a loss for words for it. I’m happy.”
“It’s not over. We have two more games left,” said Parker. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and we’re just going to play our hardest.”
Burnell scored 16 points for Rockford East and Sha’Den Clanton added 14.
The E-Rabs will play in the 4A State semifinals Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Peoria against Evanston Township. Evanston won the Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional over Lincolnshire Stevenson in overtime 57-45. Evanston is 32-4. East is 34-2.
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