MARENGO — Four quarters and two overtime periods weren’t enough to decide Saturday’s varsity boys basketball game between Rochelle and Rockford Christian.
Both teams sought to wrap up the E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic at Marengo High School on a high note, and the two squads had no problems putting points on the board. Rochelle and Rockford Christian remained even after the second overtime period, and after outlasting the Royal Lions 14-11 in triple overtime, the Hubs emerged victorious by a score of 91-88 to finish 2-2 at the tournament and improve to 5-10 overall.
“I didn’t know how much energy our kids were going to have left,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “We fought back really hard against Harvest Christian the day before, and we went from trailing by roughly 25 points to losing by eight. The kids came out against Rockford Christian and they battled all game… Both teams made plays to hang in and it was a really exciting game.”
Juniors Seth Gould and Landan Martin each finished with over 20 points for the Hubs. Gould led Rochelle with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Martin added 22 points and four assists. Senior Kaleb Ackland scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with three steals, and sophomore Garrett Burdin chipped in 14 points and six rebounds. The Hubs held a slim 37-36 lead at halftime.
“We’ve been doing a much better job attacking the basket,” Thompson said. “I think we’ve relied on our perimeter game recently, but Seth Gould and Kaleb Ackland have been doing really nice things around the rim. They’re getting offensive rebounds, and we’ve been focusing on getting ourselves easier shots… There wasn’t much defense being played in the first half, but I thought we were doing much better offensively in the second half.”
Another poor third quarter set the Hubs back 59-54 entering the fourth quarter, but the Hubs locked down on defense, holding Rockford Christian to seven points in the final quarter and tying the game at 66-66 as the clock expired. Both teams scored four points in the first overtime, and the two squads drew a 7-7 split in the second overtime.
Thompson said that Saturday’s game was reminiscent of Rochelle’s road game against Princeton about 15 years ago, when the Hubs rallied behind over 50 points from Ben Rand and over 30 points from Nick Reineck during the 2001-02 season to take down the Tigers.
“I’ve been in several single-overtime games but I haven’t had a game where we went into double and triple overtime in a long time,” Thompson said. “It felt like we’d get up and they would make free throws to get back in the game… I was really pleased with how our kids performed and I know the tournament directors joked after the game that we couldn’t play anymore.”
Senior Isaac Green and junior Austin Brown combined for 11 points, six rebounds and five assists, with Brown recording three steals. Senior Mason DeLille and junior Charlie Jandak teamed up for four points, with Jandak grabbing three rebounds.