Boys Basketball: Hubs return to the hardwood for 2023-24 season

Senior Eli Luxton returns after earning Interstate 8 All-Conference honors for the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team last season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

All-Conference senior Luxton highlights returning varsity players

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team tipped off the 2023-24 season with its first official practice on Monday. With several junior and senior athletes back from last winter, head coach Tim Thompson and the Hubs will look to build on their 10-win season a year ago.

Rochelle will open the 2023-24 season at the annual Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament at Sycamore, where the Hubs will face Dundee-Crown on Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. to start the season. Rochelle will also travel for the E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic at Marengo, where the Hubs will face Richmond-Burton on Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. and Rockford Christian on Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. The Hubs will begin the Interstate 8 schedule against Kaneland at home on Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.

“We’ve had some really good open gyms where we had so many kids going up and down the floor,” Thompson said. “I’m encouraged with how our kids look and they’ve played hard during open gyms. It’s nice to be back in the gym and we’re excited to get ready for another season.”

Rochelle will look to improve on a 10-20 overall record and a 4-10 record in the Interstate 8 last season. With Plano and Sandwich gone from the conference, Rochelle will play 10 conference games including five home-and-home sets against Kaneland, Sycamore, Morris, LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa. All-Conference senior Eli Luxton headlines Rochelle’s returning varsity starters.

“We had a bunch of kids who played quality minutes as underclassmen last year,” Thompson said. “We’re looking for big things from them this year. Eli had a great summer and a great AAU season. I’d put him right up there as a candidate to be the Player of the Year in the conference.”

Seniors Bruno Fernandez and Jack Tracey also return for the Hubs, while juniors Carson Lewis, Elijah Harley and Cayden Moore are also back in the fold after earning significant varsity playing time last winter. Sophomore Brode Metzger and freshman newcomer Brody Bruns are two underclassmen to watch for as the varsity team progresses through the 2023-24 season. 

“Bruno had a great summer and he’s put in a lot of work over at the REC Center,” Thompson said. “He’ll be getting some minutes this year. Carson, Elijah and Cayden got a lot of varsity minutes and we’ll be looking for big things from them… I thought we played with tempo at times and we shot the ball well at times, but we’ll have to capitalize on turnovers and we have to make sure we’re not turning the ball over. Our schedule is really tough, but if we come out quickly and our young guys get comfortable, we could have a nice varsity season.”