The season Lake Park's Rogers changed her legacy
On the same court on which her freshman season ended in agony just 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the season opener, Lake Park senior Darrione Rogers stood last week with a broad smile on her face and a net hanging triumphantly from her shoulders.
In the same lane at Hoffman Estates High School where she had three years before lay writhing in pain, Rogers just minutes before gone had scored a wraparound reverse layup on the way to a sectional championship.
Rogers had always been an entertaining player to watch: the no-look passes, getting out of double-teams with a lightning-quick dribble between her legs, making step-back 3-pointers from the volleyball line. She had always put up big numbers, taking over the top spot in numerous places on the Lake Park stat leaderboard.
This year was different.
This year she also helped her team to a league championship, one the Lancers shared with Geneva. They won a tournament title at Hoffman Estates in November. They won a regional plaque. And the Rogers-led Lancers won that sectional plaque.
And because they won again Monday at the South Elgin supersectional, the Lancers (26-8) will play this weekend in the Final Four, opening with Fremd at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the state semifinals. Another trophy awaits in Normal.
For a second consecutive season Darrione Rogers is the Daily Herald DuPage County Girls Basketball All-Area Captain.
'The Darrione effects'
The individual numbers set her apart.
Rogers is averaging just under 26 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals a game, the scoring easily the best in DuPage County. She has made 78 3-pointers with two games this weekend still to play, and she is shooting 83% from the free-throw line. In just three seasons she totaled more than 2,000 points. She was voted to the AP Class 4A all-state first team again.
And then there are the wins.
"I think that shows a lot too," she said. "And like (coach Brian) Rupp says, I think it shows I'm capable of leading a team and to put us in positions where we are now to get the job done and to show that yeah, we're winning, but it's not just me shooting from the volleyball line.
"It's me rebounding. It's me getting my teammates involved. It's me doing all the other things that people might not notice or actually pay attention to other than my scoring ability."
This is part of Rogers' legacy. There's more that Rupp sees from a coach's perspective. It is special also.
"I think her legacy has blossomed to something bigger than what it was even last year," Rupp said. "The idea of her work ethic. I think people see her work ethic and the idea of preparing in the off-season and training with a trainer, that kind of thing, a lot of our girls have completely bought into that. And I think it's one of the Darrione effects."
Perhaps the greatest growth in Rogers has been as a leader. That's part of her legacy too. After all, she's the only senior in a lineup that includes two freshmen and a sophomore.
"That kind of stuff is the cherry on top of all the accolades that she got," Rupp said. "I feel like once she leaves, obviously we've got to feel a big void there, but I still feel like we're in a pretty good spot when she leaves, and that's the effect that she had. And the players before her, to be honest with you.
"Busting through some walls for us to get us to be a legitimate program is what her legacy is."
The pride of Lancer Nation
Then there is the growing Lake Park following. Fellow students, little kids, adults who might or might not have a direct connection to the school have been coming to games. And some of them haven't been shy about approaching Rogers.
"I have adults coming up to me, talking to me and things like that and just telling me how much of an impact that I'm having on the whole community around us and how I'm able to bring everyone together and experience something like this," she said. "It's impacting a lot of people and I think that's the cool thing about it."
Even Rupp's kids are enjoying the team's success, taking photos with Rogers and emulating teammate Emma Thorne in their own games.
"I'm like, holy cow, that is really powerful. That's awesome stuff. That's our vibe right now," Rupp said.
That means a lot to Rogers.
"I want to be known for the girl that helped impact others, being a humble player, on and off the court," she said. "I want to be known for being that person that was a sign of positivity. No matter who you are, I'm going to be positive to you, I'm going to encourage you. I'm that person that you can lean on and I'm going to always have your back."
That's quite a legacy too.