MACOMB -- With standout junior forward Ethan Happ scheduled to miss time because of a knee injury, the Rockridge boys' basketball team needed someone to step up and fill the void.|
In the opening round of the Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament against Illini Bluffs, Bryan Heath was more than able to fill Happ's shoes, scoring 29 points in Rockridge's 69-32 win at Western Hall.
Heath did a little bit of everything, knocking down jump shots, free throws, layups and even the tournament's first dunk on a first-half breakaway.
"With Ethan Happ out, I decided I have to score some more points," Heath said. "He's the leading scorer on this team, so I had to fill in."
The game didn't start out completely in Rockridge's favor, as Illini Bluffs hung around until halftime, trailing 28-17.
"With not having school on Thursday, we really haven't be able to do much in the last week other than a two-hour practice on Monday," Rockridge coach Toby Whiteman said. "I knew we'd come out a little sloppy, but we got in at halftime and talked about what we had to do."
What the Rockets (10-0) did was get out and play their game.Illini Bluffs even helped, playing right into Rockridge's hands, using a three-quarters court zone press.The Rockets used their speed, height and athletic edge, constantly beating Illini Bluffs to the basket for easy shots.
"With the athletes I have on my team, we'll take it if a team presses us," Whiteman said. "We just had to get the ball to the middle, then it was a lot of 4-on-3 and 3-on-2.With the athletes I have, we'll take that."
Rockridge also kept the pressure up on the defensive end, forcing 20 Illini Bluffs turnovers.
"That's what coach stresses, pressure defense to get uncontested layups," Heath said. "We get in the passing lanes and try and get steals."
TJ Henry added 16 points and Nyle Stevens chipped in with 10 for Rockridge.
"With Ethan out, we're going to need Bryan to step up and score," Whiteman said. "This is also a chance for TJ and Nyle to show what they can do.
"TJ was able to score and Nyle did, too, which is good for him because we ask Nyle to guard the other team's best player, so what he gives us offensively is a bonus."
Rockridge moves to the Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament quarterfinals, playing Illini Central tonight at 5:30 at Macomb High School.Illini Central topped Pittsfield 48-38 in its Wednesday opener.
Monmouth-Roseville 103, Brown County 38: The Monmouth-Roseville Titans jumped off the bus ready to put the ball in the basket, outscoring Brown County 42-11 in the first eight minutes of play.
By halftime, the margin grew to 68-19 as the Titans (8-2) shot a whopping 65.2 percent from the field in the half by hitting 30 of 46 shots.
Seven M-R players reached double-digit scoring. Trayvon Smith, Liam Merritt, M.J. Kelley and Dillon Frieden led Mon-Rose with 13 points. Joe Colclasure added 12 and Dalton Hottle and Will Myers each added 11.
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