ROCKFORD – The East E-Rabs used a dominant advantage on the boards to beat South Elgin, 64-54, to move one win away from the school’s first state appearance in 41 years.
The Storm were coming off an impressive 57-35 beatdown of Harlem with 6-7 center Vincent Miszkiewicz leading the way with 15 rebounds.
Miszkiewicz was effective Friday in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Rock Valley College but never dominant, and Sha’den Clanton led a team effort on the boards. Miszkiewicz had 11 rebounds, but no other South Elgin player had more than five as the E-Rabs dominated the glass 43-27.
Andres Thompson led the way with nine rebounds, Clanton had eight and Markarious Luster added seven as the E-Rabs proved to be quicker to loose balls.
Clanton also had the game’s defining play. The E-Rabs built a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter only to see the Storm come storming back to cut the lead to three points. Clanton regained the momentum by throwing down a dunk over Miszkiewicz, drawing the center’s fourth foul, and completing the three-point play. South Elgin would never cut the lead under six again.
Chris Burnell was his usual solid self. He led the E-Rabs with 16 points, including hitting eight-of-10 free throws and four assists with zero turnovers. Clanton had 14 points to go along with the eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Sincere Parker added 13 and Thompson 10.
This was the second sectional title won by the E-Rabs under coach Roy Sackmaster and just the third since the 1977-1978 season when the E-Rabs made a surprising run to state behind the play of John Griffin and the coaching of Ike Johnson.
The E-Rabs can end that state drought on Tuesday at the NIU Convocation Center. East will play Geneva, which beat Downers Grove North, 75-70, Friday. Geneva is 32-1 with its only loss to Lake Park back on Jan. 11. R.