Boys Basketball: Hubs back on the hardwood

Senior Ryan Simmons will be one of four starters returning to the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team this season. Rochelle tips off the season at the Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 24. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle returns four varsity starters from last season

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team returned to the hardwood for its first week of practices as head coach Tim Thompson prepares for his 23rd season at RTHS. Rochelle will open the season at the Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

“We have a really strong senior class with a lot of guys who’ve played tremendous amounts of varsity minutes over the last few years,” Thompson said. “It’s nice to have senior leadership when we’re in a league as tough as ours… I think some of our younger kids will need some time to get adjusted, but we have some juniors and a sophomore who I think can step up this year.”

The Hubs finished 7-7 overall and took fourth in the Interstate 8 Conference during the shortened winter season this past year. Rochelle will return multiple senior starters this season including Adam Kemp, Ryan Simmons and Tanner Lager. The Hubs also return seniors Noah Brown and Zach Sanford, who are both working their way back from recent injuries.

“We had a really nice summer,” Thompson said. “Tanner was a leader for us in getting our guys into the weight room and showing up for everything we had this summer. Ryan’s made significant strides and he looks like a different player from where he was as a sophomore and where he was last year in terms of his abilities to get to the rim and knock down shots. Adam’s been solid all summer handling the ball and Noah had a nice summer shooting the ball. We’re hoping we can get Zach back by January so we can have a solid core moving forward.”

Seniors Forrest Gerber and Cooper Hasz could each see increased roles this season, while junior Raul Aguirre will be tasked will filling Sanford’s shoes in the frontcourt after earning some varsity minutes as a sophomore. The Hubs will open the Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament against Yorkville, with the winner potentially facing off against Burlington Central.

“It may be tough for some of our younger players early on, but our goals never change,” Thompson said. “We want to win 20 games, we want to compete for a conference championship and we want to win a regional. That’s what our kids are shooting for.”