“Louisiana!” junior Jake Staudt calls out at the top of the key.
The players are set in motion, a series of passes bullet from the outside to the inside. Junior Max Rooney’s got it in layup position, but he kicks it to senior Zach Bushbaum on the outer edge for the three.
Bushbaum lets it fly and the ball bounces, dances around the rim before falling down.
Usually, though, he makes it. But he has to shoot his shot.
Friday night, it was Staudt who poured on the3s, making three of the seven scored by the Rockford (8-3) against Osage (6-2).
The Warriors upset the Green Devils on Friday night with a 59-51 win, maintaining a lead for the entire game, and it was those 3-pointers that gave them the edge.
“We shoot them every year,” Rockford head coach Bob Engels said. “Our theory is we love the layups and we like the 3s. We don’t really like anything in between.”
Staudt and Bushbaum are the drivers of the Rockford team.
Bushbaum had 10 defensive rebounds for a team-high of 12 total rebounds. Staudt knocked in a team-high of 15 points while adding three steals on defense.
And they’re fast.
Staudt eyes the ball closely in the hands of another player. When the ball drops to the floor for a dribble, he finds its break in air and takes it down court to the basket.
“On defense, I’m just looking for the steal, and if I see an opportunity I’ll take it,” Staudt said. “And attack the hoop hard and find my teammates for a 3.”
It’s a smart, patient way to play the game, waiting for that perfect opportunity for a teammate to line up the perfect 3.
Bushbaum is the top shooter for the Warriors right now, averaging 14.2 points per game, including 30 3-pointers this season.
But the 3-pointers are evenly spread throughout the team. There are currently four players on the roster with double-digit tallies for 3-pointers made. Bushbaum has made 30, Staudt 15, junior Kaden Lyman 15 and junior Max Rooney 12. All four made them Friday.
“Ball movement, penetration, kicks, that’s how we get most of our 3s,” Bushbaum said. “They’re not really created off the dribbling. If they’re there, we definitely take them.”
Each one fires the crowd up a little more. Lyman nailed one on the night, but it capped off a 13-point performance, so he clutched his fists and flexed with his arms down in front of him, letting out an exuberant yell.
When they make one, it looks effortless. When they don’t, it’s close.
The risky shooting pays off, especially when you defeat last year’s conference champ.
“If we play with energy, play with patience on offense, play as a team, they can do this every night,” Engels said.