SYCAMORE — Fifteen unanswered points by the Dundee-Crown Chargers was the ultimate difference-maker when the Rochelle varsity boys basketball team tipped off the Leland G. Strombom Thanksgiving Championship at Sycamore High School on Monday.
The Hubs led Dundee-Crown 32-27 at halftime behind 10 points from senior forward Johnny Beck. But the Chargers stymied Rochelle in the third quarter, holding the Hubs to only seven points after beginning the quarter on a 15-0 run to take the lead and defeat Rochelle by a final score of 64-51. The Hubs (0-1) will return to action at 6 p.m. against Belvidere on Wednesday.
“I thought they made some easy buckets around the free-throw line,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “We were giving them those shots early on and they weren’t able to make them. But they made three in a row to start the second half and we were out after one shot on every possession. We didn’t get any offensive boards and there were about four minutes where we weren’t able to score.”
Rochelle weathered a strong start by Dundee-Crown forward Joshua Raby, who scored 10 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter. Beck and senior Kaleb Ackland each knocked down two 3-pointers to give the Hubs an offensive boost early, and junior Landan Martin added a pair of mid-range shots to help Rochelle control the Chargers 18-14 after one quarter.
The Hubs received lifts from their bench players in the second quarter, as juniors Charlie Jandak and Ben Hickey made layups to keep Rochelle ahead. Junior Austin Brown scored his first five points of the night in the quarter, with Beck and Martin combining for five more to give the Hubs a 5-point lead at halftime.
“Our 2-3 zone was quite impressive for a period of time and that’s something we haven’t been able to work on very much,” Thompson said. “I thought we were beating them up the floor in the first half and I thought we shot the ball pretty well.”
Beck’s turnaround shot from nearly 15 feet away snapped Dundee-Crown’s 15-0 run in the third quarter, and the senior added a 3-pointer soon after. However, Beck’s two field goals were the only converted shots Rochelle made in the quarter, as Jandak and Brown each tacked on one point from free throws. The Chargers outscored Rochelle 18-7 in the quarter and entered the fourth leading 45-39.
“We took a lot of flat-footed 3-pointers and I thought we were really stagnant offensively in the second half,” Thompson said. “I’m not sure if it was their defense ramping up or if we just weren’t making shots. I felt like we had some open looks but I don’t know if they were quality shots at the time. Their height and their physicality got to us a little in the second half.”
Beck and Brown teamed up for all 12 of Rochelle’s points in the final quarter, and Beck finished the game with 23 points while Brown added 10. Martin ended the game with seven points for the Hubs, who will look to bounce back against the Bucs on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of young guys who don’t have varsity experience,” Thompson said. “I was pleased with the first half and I told the guys about the negatives in the second half and how we didn’t move the ball… We had some defensive breakdowns that were more fatigue-based as well.”