A month ago, the Moline boys' basketball team lost to Rock Island by 30 points.
A night ago, the Maroons took the Rocks to overtime, with Rock Island prevailing 57-46 at Wharton Field House and in the process securing at least a share of the Western Big 6 Conference title for a fourth straight year.
Take it from one who appreciates the month's difference, Rock Island point guard C.J. Carr put it in American Idol terms.
"I'd give them a 10. They played a great game," said Carr. "I'd say they'd be going to Las Vegas."
Still, it's Rock Island that can cash in on a conference title, although the Rocks' locker room seemed a bit subdued -- maybe from having to hang on in a nail-biter, maybe because there's still regular-season business awaiting.
Rock Island got its 20th win against four losses and moved to 7-2 in the Western Big 6. The Rocks host Quincy next Friday, and can win the WB6 outright after Alleman's stunning 61-50 win over Quincy on Friday. If RI loses to Quincy, it could be a three-way tie for first if Galesburg also defeats Alleman.
"Right now I like our grit, how we were able to grind it out," said RI coach Thom Sigel, "but we didn't play well. We're at that point of the season where you've got to do that."
Moline (17-11, 4-5) might have been one ball-control whistle away from having both WB6 leaders fall on the same night and with wins over the top three in the league on three straight Fridays. With the ball and 17 seconds to go and the game tied at 44, Moline was called for carrying, a high-dribble violation, with 4.7 seconds left.
The Rocks could not make it back-to-back Fridays with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Trae Babers getting a decent look from the right side.
In OT, it was all Rock Island. Moline didn't score until a Derrick Stabler basket with :27 left, and the Rocks had gone up 53-44 by then, benefitting from being in the double bonus. The Rocks were 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in OT.
"We got what we wanted and that was to keep it close and have a chance to win at the end," said Moline coach Jeff Schimmel, whose Maroons were 3-0 in the WB6 since 2013 began. "It just didn't go our way at the end."
The biggest eye-opener of the night was Jed Wood, Moline's sharpshooting guard. He singlehandedly took on the Rocks in the first half and prevailed. With Moline holding a 26-19 halftime lead, Wood had 19 points, with 11 points and three steals in the second quarter alone. While Wood was 6-of-11 shooting in the first half, 4-of-8 on 3s, the rest of the Maroons were 2-of-11 and 0-for-4.
Wood finished with 28 points, four steals, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
"I was feeling hot and the guys were getting me the ball," said the Moline senior who has a 10-point scoring average. "We just had nothing left in the overtime."
"He had a great half and kept us in it," Schimmel said of Wood. "All of our guys played a good three quarters. The third quarter probably got us."
That was when the Rocks held Moline to just six points to pull to within one at 32-31. Still, Moline led 38-34 midway through the fourth, and 44-42 with a minute to go. A pair of Raahsaan Brown free throws with :38 left were the last points in regulation.
Rock Island put three in double figures, led by Carr's 17. Keenan Shorter came off the bench for 13 points and Brown with 11.
Moline's Brandon Vice and Rock Island's Brian Richardson had their own little board war, with Vice finishing with 16 rebounds and Richardson with 14.
Both teams are back in action tonight for road games, Moline at Lincoln (6:30 start) and Rock Island at Peoria Manual (7:30).
Today is Tuesday, Dec. 10, the 344th day of 2013. There are 21 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: We give "the government" the benefit of our circulation free of charge, for two advertisements for mules, horses and forage. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The official board of the First Methodist Church voted to build a new church. 1913 -- 100 years ago: W.A. Reid was elected commander of Siboney Bay Camp No. 8, United Spanish War Veterans. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Blanche S. Osborne, of Rock Island, is the only woman in the city who is a member of the American Legion. 1963 -- 50 years ago: The Rocket Barbershop Chorus, under the direction of Howard Mesecher, will present a concert of barbershop songs at the December meeting of the Woman's Club of Moline at 2 Saturday afternoon in Scottish Rite Cathedral. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Helen A. Stone, of Moline, traded her organ's bench for a seat in the pew when she retired as church organist of Union Congregational Church, Moline, recently. She's been playing either piano or organ for the church for 61 years.