ROCHELLE — Eleven different players scored at least one point when the Rochelle varsity girls basketball team hosted Plano for a highly-contested nonconference game Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Hubs utilized their balanced offensive attack to score more points than they had in any game this season. Rochelle exploded for 26 points in the first quarter, and the Lady Hubs led Plano by three points at halftime. However, the Reapers successfully rallied behind a strong fourth quarter to edge Rochelle 74-69 and drop the girls to 5-16 overall.
“I think the girls were more comfortable running the Grinnell-style system,” head coach Tony Rowan said. “I was happy with a lot of what the girls were doing in the full-court setting. Plano had a few players who could make plays inside on our half-court sets, and I think that’s what separated the game for them.”
Rochelle’s upperclassmen stepped up to ignite the Lady Hub offense early, with senior Abby Lundquist pouring in a team-best 34 points while adding six steals on defense and finishing 10-for-13 from the free-throw line. Senior Makenna Ferrari and junior Gabrielle Harding each scored seven points, and the girls combined to make 6-of-13 shots from the field.
Plano entered with a 13-4 record, but the Lady Hubs looked eager for the upset, leading 26-24 after the first quarter before tightening up their defense to outscore the Reapers 12-11 in the second quarter to enter the locker room at halftime up 38-35.
“When we can have multiple girls score over five points in the game, it’s going to be huge for us,” Rowan said. “The kids did a great job of taking good shots and I don’t think we took many bad shots… Abby draws a lot of fouls because of how aggressive she is… Her body control and her strength really push her, and when she’s being aggressive while catching the other team off balance, it’s huge for us.”
Plano evened the game in the third quarter after outpacing Rochelle 22-19 to tie the contest 57-57. Behind Kyla Waller (28 points and 11 rebounds), Lily Fernandez (16 points) and Lexi Tisberger (14 points and 10 rebounds), the Reapers executed their low-post play brilliantly in the fourth quarter, allowing the team to take the advantage late and seal the win despite surrendering nearly 70 points to Rochelle.
The loss was the second in two days for the Lady Hubs, who struggled defensively in their 69-48 defeat against DeKalb on Friday. Rochelle will aim to get back on track on Tuesday when the girls host Kaneland.
“Grabbing the basketball is going to be the key for us,” Rowan said. “We’re going to do some different things in the weight room and in practice to try and get our forearms a bit stronger so we can hold onto the basketball instead of trying to tip balls out.”
Freshman Zoey Tabor had five points for Rochelle, with freshman Lucy Bunger scoring four points and sophomore Sofia Lenkaitis adding three points. Four players including seniors Emilee Dueringer, Cheyene Watson, sophomore Afi Gati and freshman Josie Lundquist totaled two points, with freshman Sylvia Hasz chipping in one point with eight rebounds.