MARENGO — While the Hubs focused on beating Richmond-Burton’s ball-press scheme, Rochelle stepped up with a stout defensive effort of its own when the boys continued their E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic run against the Rockets on Friday.
Senior Landan Martin caught fire early in the game, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and propelling the Hubs over Richmond-Burton 51-37. Martin finished with a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds, while Garrett Burdin scored 18 points and added seven rebounds. The victory moved Rochelle into the final consolation round against Crystal Lake Central.
“Landan started the game really hot,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “Landan’s really streaky and when he feels that his shots are going in, he can make a bunch… He really felt comfortable from the field and he felt confident the whole game. We need that consistency from him, and he’s one of our few guys who can get offense in the lane.”
Despite trailing 24-22 at halftime, the Hubs emerged with the lead after dominating the third quarter, outscoring Richmond-Burton 16-3 to go ahead 38-27. Rochelle held the Rockets to under 36 percent shooting from the field, and the Hubs limited Richmond-Burton to only three offensive rebounds and zero second-chance points. Martin and Burdin combined for five steals.
“We weren’t making live-ball turnovers and I thought our kids handled their pressure well,” Thompson said. “We were making extra passes and getting good shots. We mixed our defense up by playing zone at times and man-to-man at other times. We had them flustered and they didn’t shoot the ball particularly well.”
Rochelle faced Crystal Lake Central in the final consolation round Saturday afternoon. The Hubs trailed by as many as 23 points before surging back in the fourth quarter, pulling within five but falling short in a 61-56 loss against the Tigers. The Hubs are now 4-8 overall this season.
“The score was a little deceiving,” Thompson said. “Crystal Lake Central played really well over the final two days of the tournament and they came in with confidence. I was concerned with their ability to screen and work on the offensive boards since we aren’t an overly physical team. They manhandled us a bit in the first quarter and they got out to a pretty significant lead.”
Nearly 75 percent of the Crystal Lake Central points came in the paint, where the Tigers outscored the Hubs 42-14 and outrebounded Rochelle 49-29. Despite the loss, Garrett Burdin emerged as the go-to offensive option for the Hubs, pouring in 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Spencer Warborg added six points on 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range.
“Garrett has a scorer’s mentality and we need guys like that on a team,” Thompson said. “I’ve been very happy with Garrett recently. Normally his game revolves around the 3-point shot, but he’s starting to recognize how good he can be in the paint. He finishes well with floaters and short-range jump shots. He has really nice touch, and he’s starting to score more consistently because he’s recognized that he can get into the paint and finish around the rim.”