Young stars on display at Rumble In The Rock

ROCKFORD – The feature team in the feature game of this year’s Rumble In The Rock is East’s boys basketball team.

Sincere Parker shooting in the 205 Tip-Off Classic.

The attention is deserved. The E-Rabs roared through the first half of the NIC-10 race at 9-0 and holds a two-game lead in their quest to win the first NIC-10 boys basketball title since 1981.

East will play the 4:30 p.m. game against Rockford Jefferson (5-4, 11-7). There’s another reason though to watch the full slate of games Saturday at Rock Valley College.

You get to watch Generation Next.

For the first time that anyone can think of, the leading scorer on every District 205 team is an underclassman.

On East, it’s been well documented that senior Chris Burnell, now East’s all-time leading scorer, is willingly taking on the point guard role and looking to feed junior Sincere Parker whenever possible. Parker leads the NIC-10 in scoring at 20.4 points per game after torching Harlem for 37 on Wednesday.

Jefferson’s top two scorers are sophomore Latrell Graham (14.2 ppg) and junior George Williams (11.0). Guilford (4-4, 9-7)  is led by juniors Tyler Knuth (10.2) and Jack Holmstrom (9.7). And the most consistent thing about Auburn’s up-and-down season (3-5, 8-10) has been the play of sophomore Josh Ausler, who leads the Knights at 14.7 points per game while also leading the team in assists.

In the highly interconnected world of youth basketball, these players grew up playing with and against each other – and, for the most part, they aren’t surprised by their success.

Latrell Graham drives on East.

“I played against Latrell at the (YMCA) and I first played against George in seventh grade,” Guilford’s Tyler Knuth said. “When (Jefferson) brought George up last year, he came out hitting threes so we could see he was good. With Latrell, I only played him at the Y, so I couldn’t tell how good he was until this year. He’s been a surprise.”

“I first played against Jack when he was in middle school,” Jefferson’s Williams said of Holmstrom. “What I remember about him is that he’d never miss free throws. That’s what we’d say, ‘don’t foul him. He doesn’t miss free throws.’”

“I’ve played a lot of pickup ball against Josh,” East’s Parker said of Ausler, who was getting significant minutes as a freshman at Auburn while Parker worked on his game at the sophomore level at East. “Whenever we see each now, we just go at it. It’s fun. He plays you hard.”

“Sincere and I played on the same AAU team beginning in sixth grade. He’s one of my good friends,” Holmstrom said of Parker. “Sincere could always shoot the ball. We all knew that. We didn’t know he could dunk like that.”

“The dunking came out of nowhere,” Parker said, laughing. “Like I’ve told everyone, I spent all my time at the gym.”

Parker said the Rumble will be even more fun next year when this class of stars has another year of development.

“I want them to do well. The competition is going to be great.”

Rumble In The Rock schedule

10 a.m. – Jefferson vs. East, girls basketball
11:30 – Guilford vs. Auburn, girls basketball
1 p.m. – Guilford vs. Auburn, boys basketball
3 p.m. – Joliet vs. Rock Valley, women’s college basketball
4:30 p.m. – Jefferson vs. East, boys basketball
6 p.m. – Joliet vs. Rock Valley, men’s college basketball

Catch up with District 205 alumni

Several District 205 graduates are using Rock Valley College hopefully as a platform to bigger and better things.

The RVC men’s team is 12-3 and East graduate Charles Burnell – a redshirt freshman – is averaging 9.2 points and 2.5 assists in 22 minutes. Jefferson’s Kaveon Rogers, a sophomore, is averaging 3.4 points and 1.1 assists. Guilford’s Nick Phillips, a redshirt freshman, is scoring 4.3 points per game.

The Rock Valley women’s team is 12-5 with District 205 graduates being an integral part of the success.

East’s Madi Hecox, an NJCAA Division III All-American as a freshman, is having another outstanding season. Hecox is averaging 18.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Madi is nursing a knee injury, though, and her status Saturday is unclear.

Former Jefferson and Auburn point guard Alexcia Neal has been coming on as the season progresses. Neal now is averaging 3.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

Former Auburn forward Sydney Miller is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.6 points per game.

Posted on 01.11.19