SYCAMORE — Losing three times against the Sycamore Spartans during the 2019-20 season was more than enough to motivate Hub senior Garrett Burdin when the Rochelle varsity basketball team faced the black and gold in its conference opener Tuesday evening.
Burdin led all scorers with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting and the Hubs used their defensive length to shut down Sycamore forward Xavier Gagnepain, who finished with only eight points. Rochelle totaled nine steals and eight deflections Tuesday, limiting Sycamore to only 17 second-half points as the Hubs defeated the Spartans 67-49 to move to 1-1 on the season.
“Losing our first game really motivated us,” Burdin said. “We came back to practice and worked on things we struggled with on Friday and it really showed Tuesday night. It was big for us to get a conference win because our No. 1 goal is to win a conference title.”
Junior Noah Brown added 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting from 3-point range off the bench for the Hubs, who outscored Sycamore 23-13 in the first quarter. The Spartans battled back in the second quarter, rallying behind Tyler York and Sam Stoner, who combined for 21 points in the game. Leading 38-32, Rochelle put Sycamore away with a 19-9 third-quarter performance.
“My teammates spaced the floor really well and we were rebounding well on both ends,” Burdin said. “Our depth and everybody stepping up and playing their roles will be the biggest key for us to win the conference championship this season. We have a lot of length on our team, so guarding with our length and rebounding will be huge for us. We may not be the biggest team, but we can use our length to space the floor and grab rebounds.”
Junior Zach Sanford finished with 10 points and six rebounds for the Hubs, who will host LaSalle-Peru on Friday at 7 p.m. Burdin led all players with four steals in the win, while junior Ryan Simmons totaled a team-high five assists along with five points and three rebounds. Senior Spencer Warborg scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with three assists Tuesday.
“We learned a lot from losing against them last season,” Burdin said. “Our seniors and juniors have wanted to beat Sycamore for a long time. It felt like when we beat Sterling last season because it felt like we had a weight lifted off our shoulders. We can build on this win.”
The Rochelle Hub sophomore basketball team fell 40-37 against Sycamore on Tuesday. Sophomore Raul Aguirre and freshman Jack Tracey combined for 11 first-half points in the loss.