ROCK FALLS – It’s been almost 15 years, but Rock Falls certainly has not forgotten March 13, 1999.
That’s when Brian Vance’s 3-pointer with 6 seconds left lifted the Rockets to the Class A state championship.
The ’99 champs were honored before Rock Falls’ game at the Rock Falls Shootout on Saturday night at Tabor Gym.
Four starters from the team – Jorge Acosta, Bryan Boerjan, Jedidiah Johnson, and Herb Martin – were on hand, as were then-assistant coach Dave Peugh, and then-head coach Thom Sigel.
The Rockets’ 45-43 come-from-behind win over Waterloo Gibault that fateful night at Carver Arena in Peoria is still fresh in the minds of the ’99 champs.
Rock Falls trailed Gibault 41-30 with 4:55 to play before coming all the way back for the title.
“It doesn’t seem like 15 years ago,” said Johnson, who was a senior guard for the 31-3 Rockets. “It’s amazing how fast it’s gone by. It’s nice to have a flashback once in a while. I sat down [Saturday] and watched some old film. It’s been a pretty neat weekend for us.”
Sigel, a 1985 Rock Falls grad, is now the coach at Rock Island High School. He’s been there since 2001, and guided the Rocks to the Class 3A state title in 2011.
His Rock Island squad defeated Naperville North 62-59 in the game before Rock Falls’ contest Saturday night.
In his six seasons at Rock Falls (1995-2001), Sigel was 127-52.
“All those guys are young men now, starting their own familes,” Sigel said of the ’99 champs. “It makes me feel a little older. What [winning state] did for the community 15 years ago was something special.
“I still have the DVD. Every once in a while I’ll pull that out and relive it a little bit.”
Sigel’s son Trey is a now senior at Rock Island. He scored 12 points Saturday on the floor where he was a ballboy for the ’99 champs.
“My son wasn’t even in school yet back then,” Sigel said. “He was excited about this. He idolized that team.”
Johnson, who hopes to see another Rock Falls title, knows it won’t come easy.
“I don’t know if a lot of people understand how hard something like that is to complete,” Johnson said. “How many things have to go right and fall into place. Those type of years are special.”