Boys Basketball: Hubs hold on for road win over Oregon

Junior Jack Tracey dribbles past Oregon's Noah Johnson during the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball game against the Hawks on Monday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle overcomes late shooting surge to edge Hawks 82-74

OREGON — The Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team overcame a 3-point shooting barrage from the Oregon Hawks on Monday evening, when the purple and white nearly saw their 20-point first-half lead disappear midway through the fourth quarter of nonconference action.

Rochelle controlled the first half with its tempo and effort on the boards, attacking the painted area and opening the game with solid shooting from the perimeter. But the Hawks nearly flipped the game on its head during the fourth quarter, where guard Noah Johnson buried triple after triple to help bring Oregon within two points with about three minutes remaining. Despite six 3-pointers from Johnson, Rochelle held on down the stretch, defeating the Hawks 82-74.

“I thought we put everything together that we wanted,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “We guarded them hard and we were pressing well. We knew Oregon was a good 3-point shooting team, but we were running and jumping with them so we could slow them down. We were sharing the ball and not turning the ball over, so we were getting the shots we wanted.”

Junior Eli Luxton finished with a team-high 24 points for the Hubs (9-17, 3-9 Interstate 8), who punished the Hawks with their offensive rebounding and fast tempo during the first half. After falling behind in the first few minutes, Rochelle broke off a 14-2 run that enabled the Hubs to take a 29-14 lead after the first quarter. Luxton grabbed a team-high 16 rebounds in the win.

“I told our kids that between our three games coming up against Sandwich, LaSalle-Peru and Byron, if we can turn that first quarter against Oregon into four quarters against each of those teams, then I believe we have a chance to win all of those games,” Thompson said. 

Junior Jack Tracey converted a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, where he totaled 10 of his 13 points to keep the purple and white well ahead of the Hawks. Senior Raul Aguirre also knocked down consecutive perimeter shots including a triple and a long-range 2-pointer to get the Rochelle offense moving in the first quarter. Sophomore Cayden Moore’s aggression off the dribble made him a frequent visitor to the free-throw line, where he went 8-for-10 in the game.

Moore and Aguirre each finished with 12 points for the Hubs, who led Oregon 50-32 at halftime. Oregon’s comeback began during the third quarter, where a series of over-the-back foul calls on Rochelle resulted in empty Hub possessions. Oregon entered the bonus early in the fourth quarter, where Johnson sparked the Hawks from 3-point range, knocking down multiple triples to bring his team within a field goal of taking their first lead since the opening quarter of play. 

Rochelle also struggled with turnovers down the stretch, where Oregon increased its defensive pressure and made passing lanes difficult for Hub ball handlers to navigate. While the Hawks nearly pulled off the improbable comeback, Oregon was unable to make free throws or shots in the final minutes, whereas Luxton took command of the Hub offense and sealed the victory with a pair of putbacks at the rim. Rochelle will host the DeKalb Barbs on Tuesday at 7 p.m.