Boys Hoops: East rolls through four opponents to win Tip-Off Classic

ROCKFORD – The Rockford East High basketball team rolled through four opponents from Illinois, Indiana and California this week to become the first Rockford Public Schools squad to win the 205 Tip-Off Classic since 2014.

The E-Rabs weren’t the only ones to impress, though. Auburn, East, Guilford and Jefferson combined to go 12-4, the best combined showing for District 205 schools in the five-year history of the Tip-Off Classic.

The strong Thanksgiving showing should serve notice that the gains District 205 teams have shown in boys basketball are only increasing.

In 2017-2018, for the first time in history, three District 205 schools (East, Auburn and Jefferson) won more than 20 games. The four schools combined to win 65.6 percent of their NIC-10 conference games. That was the best showing since the 1999-2000 season and the ninth straight seasons that the District 205 basketball programs won at least half their conference games.

Last year, Jefferson relied on three seniors (Terry Ford, My’Quion Garrett and Quillin Dixon) to win a school-record 26 games and Auburn’s offense revolved around senior Yahmir Muhammad – now playing at Missouri S&T. This year’s 205 Tip-Off Classic showed that a new crop of stars is ready to push the district even further.

Thirty-nine different players scored at least one point for District 205 schools in the first week of games. Only 16 of those players – 41 percent – were seniors. All told, juniors scored scored 41.2 percent of the points, sophomores 16.6 percent and freshmen – well, one freshman – scored 1.8 percent.

This year, East senior Chris Burnell is likely to break that school’s all-time scoring record and fellow senior Sha’den Clanton may break – if they keep this stat – the school record for dunks. But it was junior Sincere Parker who broke the tournament scoring record with 115 points in four games, and sophomore Markarious Luster is first off the bench.

Guilford senior Jamil Jones was named second team All-Classic, but Guilford’s juniors outscared its seniors 130 to 101. The Vikings had been 3-9 in its previous three Tip-Off Classics but went 3-1 this year. Jefferson also went 3-1 and its top two scorers were junior point guard George Williams and sophomore Latrell Graham.

Auburn, the winner of the 2014 tournament, went 2-2 against perhaps the toughest schedule and its offense revolved around sophomore guard Joshua Ausler, who scored 73 points in four games. Freshman Robert Chaney also made several big plays.

Conference play begins Wednesday with Guilford playing Boylan, East playing Freeport and the J-Hawks squaring off with the Knights. R.

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