Boys Basketball: Hubs return to the hardwood

Senior Raul Aguirre is one of few returning players for the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team this season. Rochelle will begin its season at the Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 23. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle returns key starters from conference, regional championship team

ROCHELLE — Head coach Tim Thompson will be looking for returning players on the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team to step up as the purple and white prepare to defend their Interstate 8 Conference and IHSA 3A Regional Championship titles during the upcoming 2022-23 season.

Rochelle tipped off the season with its first practice on Monday, with returning players and newcomers taking the floor in preparation for the annual Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament at Sycamore, which begins on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The Hubs finished with a 22-11 overall record last season, winning their first conference title since 2012 and their first regional since 2009.

“We had such a nice season last year,” Thompson said. “It’s a historic season that our program can remember forever, but we’re trying to build a new team this season and everything’s going to be different. We struggled during the summer against teams that were really athletic, but we’re going to play fast and we’re going to press on defense. We have some football players who will be coming in late and I think it’s going to take a while to see what we’ll look like.”

Seniors Raul Aguirre and David Gerber as well as junior Eli Luxton headline notable players returning to the varsity roster this season. The Hubs are seeking to replace a talented class that included First-Team All-Conference honorees Ryan Simmons and Adam Kemp as well as Honorable Mention All-Conference recipients Tanner Lager and Noah Brown. Seniors Landon DeLille and Colton O’Rorke are two more athletes returning to the varsity team this winter.

“We haven’t talked much about wins and losses,” Thompson said. “We had a more ready-made team last season and we had different goals that included winning 20 games as well as conference and regional championships. It took us a while to get going last season and I think it could take us a while this season. We want to start winning games by the end of the season, but it could be tough at the beginning because we don’t have a lot of varsity-level experience.”

Juniors Jack Lodico and Jack Tracey as well as sophomore Carson Lewis are three varsity newcomers who could earn minutes for the Hubs this season. Thompson said that more sophomores could work their way into the mix as Rochelle looks to build for the future.

“We have three kids in Raul, David and Eli who gave us quality minutes at the varsity level last season,” Thompson said. “We’ll have to lean on them quite a bit and we’ll need to see what we can get out of our returning seniors as well as how our sophomores and juniors fit into the mix.”