ROCK ISLAND -- If it wasn't apparent before, DayQwon Jones showed on Friday night that he really likes to dunk the basketball.|
Providing energy off of the bench for the Rock Island High School boys basketball team, Jones slammed it home four times and energized the Rocky faithful as the Rocks ran past United Township 65-51 to earn the Class 4A Rock Island Regional championship.
"I try to go strong when I come in," said Jones, a senior, who finished with eight points and three rebounds. "I try to get the team hyped, bring the energy, rebound, play defense, give good minutes and get the game going."
Jones accomplished that against the Panthers including a thunderous put-back slam on a Trayvon Aldridge miss in the third quarter. Jones jumped over a few Panthers and had the Rocky bench all standing and celebrating along with the crowd.
"DayQwon always plays with a lot of energy," said Rock Island coach Thom Sigel. "He just makes plays and that was huge for us."
A good second quarter gave the Rocks a 27-13 halftime lead. To open up the third quarter, Tyler Hall connected on all four attempts from the field as the junior guard scored nine of Rocky's 24 points in the stanza.
It helped spark a stretch in the game that allowed the Rocks (19-8) to completely take control of their path to next week's East Moline (United) Sectional. That is where they will face Normal Community High School in a semifinal matchup on Tuesday night at 7 at UT's Panther Den.
"We just needed to make big runs and take away their big runs," Hall said. "When we play as a team and move the ball, we are hard to stop."
Hall finished with a team-best 17 points. Senior point guard C.J. Carr ran the show on Friday night scoring 10 points and dishing out nine assists.
"Being a playmaker all my life is what I've wanted to do," Carr said. "It makes my job a lot easier when my guys knock down shots and attack the basket. It's great to have."
Nobody was more impressed with Carr than United Township coach Marc Polite, whose club finished 7-22 after winning two regional games.
"To be 100 percent honest with you, he's largely, in my opinion, why we have struggled with (Rock Island) the last three years," Polite said. "The way we play, we really put a big emphasis on guarding the basketball. With a slithery guy like that, you just can't guard the ball."
Sigel admitted his team had a little bit of extra motivation on Friday after saying his players and fans were "taunted" at the end of the fifth-seeded Panthers' win over top-seeded Ottawa on Tuesday night.
"Sometimes a little chip on your shoulder isn't bad," Sigel said. "We were playing on our home floor and we wanted to defend it. I think they got a little fired up by that."
Sophomore Jerry Myles finished the game with 22 points to lead the Panthers. UT graduates Raymond Terronez and Trevor May out of its starting lineup, but returns a big chunk of a roster that made big strides late in the season.
"It's always tough at the end of the year when you are saying goodbye to your seniors," Polite said. "We do have a lot back. Our sophomore team was one of the best sophomore groups in the Big 6. I think we are going to be very good and we are very excited about this group coming up."
Keenan Shorter scored 14 points for the Rocks who have won five straight regional titles.
Obviously proud and excited to hoist the regional plaque on their home floor, the Rocks have bigger goals in mind.
"It's a great feeling," Jones said. "We're very excited and happy about it, but we're not satisfied. We want more, we have to worry about the next game."
"It's very special," Carr said. "I'm glad to be able to do it with these guys and this coaching staff. I'm very blessed. But we're not done yet."
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