ROCHELLE — Most players don’t look at the positives when they suffer injuries, but Rochelle senior forward Johnny Beck was optimistic that both he and his teammates would grow stronger after he hurt his ankle before the team’s conference battle against Ottawa a few weeks ago.
Beck’s confidence was validated when the Rochelle varsity boys basketball team hosted Plano on Wednesday. The Reapers were unable to stop the Hub offense at any point, and for the third straight game, Rochelle put over 70 points on the scoreboard. Behind a game-high 30 points from Beck, the Hubs dominated Plano by a score of 88-76 to improve to 7-10 overall and extend their winning streak to three games.
“I think that the injury was the best thing for me and my teammates,” Beck said. “My teammates learned how to run the offense and play good defense without a bigger guy in the game, and now that I’m back, it seems so much easier for the other guys. I think they’ve been awesome.”
Rochelle jumped all over Plano from the start, beginning the game with a 29-10 run through the first quarter with five Hubs scoring points including senior Kaleb Ackland, who recorded all nine of his points in the first quarter. Junior Austin Brown added all five of his points, which included a fastbreak layup and a long 3-pointer.
The Rochelle offense flowed through Beck in the second quarter, as the tall left-hander totaled 13 points while making three 3-point baskets at the top of the arc. With several other Hubs making baskets, the Plano defense left players isolated on Beck, and the talented forward took full advantage.
“I was feeling good and my teammates were hitting shots which made things easier for me,” Beck said. “Their defense wasn’t doubling down on me so I was able to see a lot of man-on-man defense.”
Junior Landan Martin’s short-range fadeaway shot at the buzzer gave the Hubs a 55-29 lead at halftime. Martin scored five points and made one 3-pointer in three different quarters on Wednesday, finishing with 15 total points. Junior Seth Gould scored all 13 of his points over the second and third quarters to keep the Rochelle offense going.
“I think we’re feeling very confidence on the offensive end,” Martin said. “We’re hitting shots and everybody’s happy that we’re winning. I’m feeling great and my teammates are dishing me the ball. We’re all having fun out there. When we’re all scoring the ball, it makes everybody feel better and we’re able to come together as a team.”
Sophomore Garrett Burdin, who finished with nine Rochelle points, knocked down two of his three 3-pointers in the third quarter to help the Hubs remain ahead 77-53 after three quarters. Senior Noah Knight and juniors Ben Hickey and Charlie Jandak each totaled two points for the Hubs, who will face Yorkville on Saturday.
“The first half of our season wasn’t the best, but now it’s time to get ready for regionals,” Beck said. “That’s all we can really think about.”