ROCK FALLS – Rock Falls High School is in search of a new boys basketball coach.
Brad Bickett, who lead the Rockets for eight seasons, will not be back on the bench for the 2020-21 season.
On Monday night, Bickett was hired by the Bureau Valley School Board as high school athletic director and dean of students for the 2020-21 school year.
Bickett put up a 134-105 record and went 17-16 in 2019-20. Rock Falls reached the regional final in February before losing to Newman Central Catholic High School.
Under Bickett, the Rockets won regional crowns in 2017 and 2019, both in Class 3A before moving back down to Class 2A for this past season.
“He did a great job for us,” Athletic Director Rich Montgomery said. “He came in and had a few tough years to start with, but has got us back to a very competitive state. Had a couple regional championships and got to that next level, so he’s done a wonderful job for us.”
Bickett’s Rockets hit a rough patch in the middle of the last decade. The team won just five games in 2015 and six in 2016 before rebounding to a 22-win season in 2017, culminating in a 69-61 win over Dixon High in the Class 3A Rock Falls Regional title game behind 21 points from Logan Pillars.
The following year, the Rockets again topped the 20-win mark, but this time stumbled in a regional finals rematch with the Dukes in Stillman Valley.
In 2018-19, Rock Falls’ final year as a Class 3A school, the Rockets won another regional crown, this time holding off a late Sterling rally in the regional final at Freeport for win No. 31 of the year.
Even this past season, after the Rockets dropped their first five games of the year, Rock Falls was able to rally late in the season and put together a winning record.
Bickett arrived in Rock Falls after a 20-year run at Buda Western, Western Wyanet and Bureau Valley, where his teams won 12 regional titles, eight of them in a row, and took third place in the state in Class A 3 years in a row, 2000-02.
The lengthy list of accolades as a coach is in addition to his Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame career as a player, where he scored 2,177 points at Ohio High School and helped the Bulldogs claim second in the state in Class A in 1986. He then played at Eureka College, leading the team in scoring as a sophomore, junior and senior.
For Rock Falls, the search now begins for a new coach. The position is posted, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an uncertain time frame for finding a successor.
“I know some schools have done Zoom interviews. That’s a possibility,” Montgomery said. “Right now, we’re just worried about if we’re going to get back for spring sports.”