ROCHELLE — Seventeen unanswered points from the Kaneland Knights sealed Rochelle’s fate Friday evening, when the Hubs suffered their fifth straight loss and learned they may be without one of their best players for the near future.
Senior Landan Martin floated the ball in for a 2-point basket to briefly gave Rochelle a 29-28 lead halfway through the third quarter. That score prompted a swift response from the Knights, who carried a 17-0 run through the fourth quarter and used the rally to hold the Hubs off and win 56-46. Rochelle fell to 1-5 overall and 0-1 in the Interstate 8 Conference with the loss.
Brett David led Kaneland with 17 points including two big 3-pointers during the team’s run. Senior Austin Brown scored a game-high 20 points for the Hubs, who were without senior guard Seth Gould due to a serious thumb injury in the team’s season-opener against Belvidere.
“I thought we did what we wanted to do in our zone,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “We were loose on our rotations and [Brett] David made some shots. It was almost the same thing that happened to us against Genoa-Kingston in that we went on a cold spurt and Kaneland put a run together. We have to stop runs by making baskets, and we couldn’t do that tonight.”
Defense and transition scoring has contributed to most of the Rochelle offense this season, and that theme continued Friday night, as the Hubs erased their 17-10 deficit after the first quarter by holding the Knights to only two second-quarter points. But when Rochelle couldn’t convert turnovers into points, the Hubs struggled to find the hoop from 3-point range, and Rochelle only led 20-19 at halftime despite the strong defensive effort.
“We definitely didn’t shoot the ball well but Kaneland deserves credit for that,” Thompson said. “Their man-to-man switches were solid and I felt like our players struggled to attack off the dribble… We weren’t able to make anything happen in the lane. We saw early in the game that Kaneland was giving us trouble off the dribble, so we switched to zone and that really worked for about two-and-a-half quarters. We were able to get more rebounds that way as well.”
The Knights forced eight Rochelle fouls in the third quarter, creating bonus opportunities at the free-throw line to take a 34-29 lead into the fourth quarter. Kaneland’s 17-0 run culminated in a 45-29 advantage, and while Brown caught fire with three 3-pointers late in the quarter for the Hubs, the senior was forced to foul out to extend the game.