PEORIA – For the first time in this record-breaking season for the East E-Rabs, none of its “big three” were particularly sharp in the IHSA Class 4A third-place game.
Yet, with 1:55 left to play, the E-Rabs trailed by just three, 56-53, after a layup by Andres Thompson because the rest of the East squad was picking up its stars.
It wouldn’t be enough, though. The E-Rabs got the ball back with a chance to tie or cut the lead to one but turned it over. That led to a dunk by Kansas State recruit DaJuan Gordon, and the Condors ended up scoring eight of the final 10 points for a 64-55 win.
For East, it was a disappointing season to a historic season. The E-Rabs finished 34-4. The mark is a school and NIC-10 record for a season. East won the first NIC-10 title since 1981 and qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 1978.
“We just gave away a few too many possessions, a few key turnovers there by us and some missed opportunities toward the end when we were just nipping at the their heels and couldn’t quite get over the hump,” East coach Roy Sackmaster said “On the defensive end, we just gave them too many second chances.”
Gordon was the star for Curie, scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Thompson led the E-Rabs with 12 points, added five rebounds and three steals in an inspired effort. East typically played six players in its playoff run. Saturday, nine different E-Rabs scored and all 13 played.
“We wanted to get everybody at least a little bit of a run and say that they played in the state finals,” Sackmaster said. “We had some guys go in there and do some nice things. A couple of kids who hadn’t played very much for us went in there and got some buckets and gave us some good minutes.”
Sincere Parker scored 11 points, but the junior made just four of 13 shots. Seniors Sha’Den Clanton and Chris Burnell were held to eight points each.
Rockford Sports Coalition Photo