State Stories

15

Rockridge’s Surprise Starters Produce Memorable March Madness Moment

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Rockridge head coach Toby Whiteman and his team endured overwhelming adversity during a 2014-15 season that culminated with a run to the IHSA Class 2A Boys Basketball State Finals.

In December alone, the team lost senior Nolan Stevens to a torn MCL, before the school and community were rocked by the death of three-sport student-athlete Drake DeKeyrel. Drake’s passing brought upon the rallying cry “Do it for Drake”, which is emblazoned on the warm-ups (right) the team wore for the remainder of the season, in Drake’s favorite color blue.

In the season’s home stretch, senior Jake Foy was diagnosed with cancer after displaying fatigue in practice. Receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic, Jake and his family made the trip back to DeKalb to watch the Rockets win their Super-Sectional contest at Northern Illinois University on Tuesday, returned to Rochester, Minnesota, and then came to Peoria so Jake could be on the bench for the state tournament games.

After falling in Friday’s semifinals, Whiteman made the decision to start Nolan and Jake in the third-place game, with the plan being to call timeout immediately after the tip, so they could get recognized by the crowd as they exited.

The one “big” hurdle was making sure their opponent, Mater Dei High School, was onboard with the plan, especially considering that Mater Dei would have 6’7 Zachary Haake in the circle. Mater Dei coach Ron Schadegg was onboard without hesitation and planned to sacrifice his own timeout if Mater Dei won the tip as expected. He wouldn’t have to, however, as Rockridge got the right bounce. See the video below to watch all it all unfolded: