ROCK FALLS – In a span of 4 days, Rock Falls went from not being able to throw the ball into the ocean to seemingly not being able to miss.
The Rockets shook off a shaky offensive game against Dixon with a dominant one Wednesday night against Genoa-Kingston, and they rolled to a 77-65 victory in Tabor Gym.
Rock Falls (6-0, 2-0 Big Northern) was 10-for-11 from the field in the first 8 minutes, including 3-pointers from Jalen Bickett, Dylan Leaf and Jalen Johnson, on its way to building a 25-6 lead. Cade Nailor was 5-for-5 from the field in the first quarter – a performance that was the polar opposite of the league opener last weekend against the Dukes.
“It was really nice, especially coming off that drought we had in Dixon when we scored two points in the first quarter,” Nailor said of a game his club eventually won at the buzzer. “That was a huge momentum boost. We all got our confidence back, and I think we proved it.”
The Rockets needed to be efficient, as the Cogs (1-6. 0-2) came to life in the second half. They hit 8 of their 11 3-pointers after halftime, and forced Rock Falls to keep executing down the stretch. The lead never dipped into single digits, however, and the final margin was as close as it got since it was 16-6 barely 5 minutes into the game.
“All season we’ve had one quarter where we’ve had some sort of a lull,” Genoa-Kingston coach Ethan Franklin said. “This one happened to be the first quarter.
“We can’t have that kind of a start and expect to win in this building,” Franklin added. “Our guys do what they do, and they continued to fight.”
Reserve guard Brett Marth led the Cogs with 20 points, including a 5-for-9 performance from long distance. Nate Nesler had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Griffin Hansen added 17 points.
Nailor connected on 10 of 14 shots for a game-high 22 points, and he also grabbed 12 rebounds for the Rockets. Johnson finished with 10 points, Leaf and Keyon Wolber scored nine apiece, and Bickett and Nate Wiles added eight apiece. Rock Falls shot an efficient 52.7 percent (29-for-55) as a team.
The game was a bit of a departure from the way the Rockets have been playing, but head coach Brad Bickett will take it.
“We’ve really been good defensively, but I’m afraid tonight we might have seen that flip-flop a little bit,” Bickett said. “It was truly a great offensive effort by our guys. G-K really makes you work. They’re physical. They’re good athletes. I thought we ran some pretty good stuff, and we got guys touches where we needed to get them.”
Rock Falls 77, Genoa-Kingsotn 65
Star of the game: Cade Nailor, Rock Falls, 22 points, 12 rebounds
Key performers: Nate Nesler, G-K, 19 points, 12 rebounds; Keyon Wolber, Rock Falls, 9 points, 7 rebounds
Up next: Rock Falls vs. Bureau Valley, 6 p.m. Saturday at Colmone Classic