STERLING – For the first 6 minutes, Rock Falls seemed to have a hangover effect following Wednesday’s loss to Newman. Wake-up call received.
Trailing Morrison 10-7 late in the first quarter, the Rockets used a 19-0 tear to take control en route to a 64-33 Sauk Valley Shootout victory Friday night at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
“We should not have lost to Newman, then we came out here thinking we were going to stomp these guys again,” said Rock Falls’ Steven Armoska, who scored a game-high 14 points. “If we come out and play like I know we can, we’re going to beat every team by 50 points.”
Reserve Brodie Bruns, who scored eight points, drained a 3-pointer to ignite the decisive blitz. Armoska followed with an inside bucket, and it was 12-10 Rockets going to the second quarter.
Rock Falls (3-1) picked up where it left off when Austin Babcock, who scored seven points, converted off a backdoor cut. Connor Olson, who had a team-high seven rebounds, added a putback.
Jace Anderson (12 points) added the first of his four 3-pointers from way out on the right wing. Armoska added two more field goals before another Anderson bomb from the right wing made it 26-10 with 3:55 left in the half.
Anderson thinks Rock Falls learned valuable lessons from the Newman loss and the slow start against Morrison.
“It was a reality check. You can’t take any team for granted,” he said. “That first quarter [against Morrison] can’t happen. We have to play hard the whole game. We can’t come out sluggish. It’s going to bite us in the butt.”
The Rockets led 35-16 at the break and 55-24 after three quarters.
Morrison (1-3), which is coached by longtime Rock Falls sophomore coach Dave Peugh, played well early on.
Bill Lee Greul hit a 3-pointer for the Mustangs’ first points. Alexander Volckmann, who scored a team-high eight points, added a bucket and Kyle Meurs (5 points) converted a three-point play. Scott Hamstra’s putback made it 10-7 Morrison with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
Peugh said the game did not have more significance than others.
“I thought it might, but it didn’t have any effect on me,” he said. “I’ve been out of there for 6 years now. They have a good program. That’s the kind of program I want to have in a few years. I did have a lot of those kids in camp when they were little guys, so I feel good that they know how to shoot the basketball.”
Star of the game: Steven Armoska, Rock Falls, game-high 14 points
Key performers: Jace Anderson, Rock Falls, 12 points on 4 3-pointers; Alexander Volckmann, Morrison, team-high 8 points
Up next: Sauk Valley Shootout (at Sterling, Saturday) – Morrison vs. Newman, 6:30; Rock Falls vs. Sterling, 8