By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
As the Rockford East E-Rabs saw their historic turnaround come to an end in DeKalb at the Class 4A Supersectionals, a lot of people focused on the core group of seniors that were leaving.
But coach Roy Sackmaster had a reason to be excited about the following season. Coming back were Austin Young, Jontrell Robinson and a starter in Devion Smith.
While the E-Rabs sit tied for first place, a lot of people are pointing to star transfer Isaiah Box for the success. And while Box has lived up to all the hype, it is Smith and his core of fellow seniors who have been there and done it all before.
“He’s been huge in terms of doing a really good job of being in the right place at the right time,” Sackmaster said of Smith. “When you have a table-setter like Isaiah out there, we tell our guys to have your hands up and be ready for a feeding frenzy of layups and points. He’s been doing that for us with Tony out, and had some really big games.”
Smith has been helping with more consistent efforts this season. He showed flashes as a sophomore and junior, but would disappear for stretches.
He helped bury Belvidere North with a 27-point effort and has been making it a priority this season to try to always be at his best every single game.
“I was working hard,” Smith said after his performance against North. “I always have to outwork my opponent.”
What Smith and the rest of the seniors want to do is leave their mark on the program. They want to prove they aren’t a one-year wonder in the playoffs and hope to defend their regional title as they move up to 4A.
“Since my sophomore year, we’ve won our regional,” he said. “Being so young and doing that, I just want to do that one more time.”
From the Jan. 9-15, 2013, issue