SYCAMORE — The Rochelle varsity boys basketball team was unable to hold onto its halftime lead against Dundee-Crown on Monday. However, the Hubs had another shot at victory when they entered the locker room leading Belvidere after two quarters on Wednesday.
Fatigue may have slowed Rochelle down against the Chargers on Monday, but the Hubs were moving all around the floor during their second game of the Leland G. Strombom Thanksgiving Championship on Wednesday. Leading 33-27 over the Bucs at halftime, Rochelle rallied behind senior forward Johnny Beck, who scored a game-high 35 points to propel the Hubs past Belvidere 68-57. The win bumped Rochelle up to 1-1 overall.
“I was being a lot more aggressive,” Beck said. “I think I was a little too timid on Monday and I was shooting a lot of flat-footed 3-pointers. Tonight I was looking to grab more offensive boards and dive to the basket more often. I think I was able to get better shots off doing that.”
Wednesday’s first half was nearly a carbon copy of Monday’s opening quarters against Dundee-Crown. The Hubs led Belvidere by an identical 18-14 after the first quarter, and only one point separated the halftime score of both games, with Rochelle up 33-27 over the Bucs on Wednesday as opposed to 32-27 on Monday.
Beck’s mid-range scoring catapulted the Rochelle offense early on, and the Hubs received an offensive boost from sophomore guard Garrett Burdin, who nailed three 3-pointers in the first half and scored 11 points in the game despite going scoreless against Dundee-Crown.
“I was moving around a lot more and I think we were moving the ball a lot more,” Burdin said. “I was running off screens and my teammates were making plays to get me open. We came out with more fire in the second half and we were communicating more on defense to find where everybody’s at on the floor.”
Rochelle’s lead went unchanged after three quarters, with the Hubs up 48-42 over Belvidere behind nine points from Beck and four points from junior guard Seth Gould, who had five in the game. Rochelle converted several fastbreak layups and close runners near the basket to close out the victory in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Landan Martin hit a pair of close-range shots to run his scoring total to nine points, and junior guard Austin Brown added four of his seven points.
“We were playing full speed,” Beck said. “We had a good first half against Dundee-Crown but we were a little lackadaisical in the second half… We made sure to come out and keep pressuring Belvidere to make them struggle.”
Rochelle shot 49 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range in the win. Beck blocked six shots and grabbed 14 rebounds to finish with his second consecutive double-double, while Brown and Martin combined for 13 more rebounds. Brown and Martin each had four assists, with Burdin leading the Hubs on defense with three steals.