Boys Basketball: Rich East takes good turn
By Pat Disabato email@example.com February 26, 2013 7:10PM
Updated: March 28, 2013 6:33AM
Few teams enter the postseason on a bigger roll than No. 9 Rich East, which has won five in a row and 11 of its last 13 games.
The Rockets (17-6) take on Manteno at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Class 3A Peotone Regional.
“We’ve been running the ball more and playing with more confidence,” Rich East coach George Leonard said. “It’s a collective effort of guys stepping up and playing well. It took us 10 games to figure out how good we were.”
After averaging 53 points through the first 10 game of the season, the Rockets have averaged 78 points over their last 13 contests.
“That’s a pretty big jump,” Leonard said.
There are multiple reasons for the dramatic improvement. One being the most obvious: the play of senior Ron Lawton, who is averaging 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Rich East’s improvement, however, extends beyond Lawton.
Point guard Russell Wright has had a major hand as well, averaging 8 assists and 6 steals per game during the uprising.
“I attribute much of our success to Russell,” Leonard said. “He’s playing at another level.”
Forward Don Henderson, a junior, has elevated his play, and the return of Washaun Watson, out since the McDipper, has provided another spark.
“Henderson is a special player,” Leonard said. “He’s a great kid, gets great grades and is a great rebounder. He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
If the Rockets can get through regionals, which could require beating Rich South on Friday for a fourth time this season, a potential meeting with Hillcrest in the sectional final looms.
The Rockets and Hawks haven’t played each other.
However, that potential match-up is a ways away, especially for a Rich East program that has advanced to just one sectional final in its history.
“Right now we’re just concentrating on trying to win the fifth regional championship in the school’s history,” Leonard said. “We can’t afford to look ahead. The seniors know that this is it, they have to get it done now. A group like this doesn’t come around every year. This could be a special time.”