OTTAWA — Cold shooting has hurt the Rochelle varsity boys basketball team in recent games, but injuries are now starting to chip away at the Hubs as the regular season winds down.
Without juniors Seth Gould (knee) and Landan Martin (shoulder) and with senior Kaleb Ackland (groin) playing only limited minutes, Rochelle traveled south for a tough test against state-ranked conference rival Ottawa. The Hubs faced the Pirates earlier this season without senior Johnny Beck (ankle), and despite Beck playing in the rematch, Ottawa had no trouble with Rochelle, winning 72-46 and dropping the Hubs to 10-15 overall.
“We really got after guys in our zone early on, and we made them take shots early on that they didn’t want to take,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “I thought we could’ve had the lead but [Myles] Tucker hit some deep 3-pointers to keep them in the game. Ultimately, their talent won out, and we really only had one guy consistently scoring the ball.”
Rochelle’s zone defense frustrated Ottawa in the first quarter, and the Pirates emerged with only a 14-13 lead over the Hubs entering the second quarter. Ottawa punished Rochelle inside as the game wore on, outscoring the Hubs 42-14 in the paint behind Tyler Carson and Noah Gould, who combined for 28 points in the game. Ottawa led 36-25 at halftime before outscoring the Hubs 36-21 in the second half.
“They’re extremely talented,” Thompson said. “They’re really good on both ends of the floor, but I don’t think the score is really indicative of how we played. We just had trouble scoring the ball, and we had some injuries. We had to play a lot of guys who haven’t had a lot of minutes, and when you’re playing a ranked team, it’s difficult to handle.”
Beck led Rochelle with 26 points, nine rebounds and six blocks in the game, passing former Hub player Matt Nordman (2005-08) to become Rochelle’s all-time blocks leader with 133 in his career. Junior Austin Brown totaled seven assists and five rebounds, while sophomore Garrett Burdin scored six points with four rebounds.
“We’ve been trying to stay as positive as we can,” Thompson said. “It’s been difficult with so many kids banged up, and we just haven’t consistently scored the ball. We’ve played some tough teams during this stretch, but we’re down three starters.”