SYCAMORE — Senior Cooper Hasz was absent from the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team’s first matchup against the Sycamore Spartans earlier this season. The 6-foot-5 senior took the rematch on Thursday personally, grabbing a team-high 14 rebounds as the Hubs took down the Spartans 61-37 on the road and avenged their loss against Sycamore from earlier this season.
“I wasn’t there when we played them the first time and that made it personal for me,” Hasz said. “I knew we needed to win and I thought we shared the ball really well. We shoot a lot of 3-pointers and I know that I can help my team out a lot if I can get my teammates extra shots.”
Seniors Tanner Lager and Noah Brown each knocked down 3-pointers to ignite the Rochelle offense in the first quarter. Both teams remained tied entering the second quarter, where the Hubs (10-8, 6-1 Interstate 8) began pulling away behind a strong defensive effort against Sycamore guards Brody Armstrong and Tyler York, who were held to only 12 points on 4-of-19 shooting on Thursday. Brown scored a game-high 18 points for the Hubs, who led 32-23 at half.
“We knew coming in that we had to control two of their players,” Hasz said. “Once we were able to shut them down in the second half, we were able to wrap the game up. We just have to keep improving because we’ve grown so much since the start of the season. I think we have so much more we can improve on and it’s great to see how far we’ve come this season.”
With Hasz leading the Hubs on the boards, Rochelle stretched its lead into double digits during the third quarter, where seniors Ryan Simmons and Adam Kemp facilitated the offense to find easy baskets around the rim. The two seniors combined for 11 assists for the Hubs, who outscored Sycamore 36-20 on points in the paint and outrebounded the Spartans 43-25. Rochelle also outpaced Sycamore 15-2 in transition points and 15-4 in points off turnovers.
Lager finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting for Rochelle, while Kemp and Hasz combined for 12 points in the victory. Kemp and Brown spearheaded the charge on defense, with Kemp snatching a team-high four steals while Brown had three steals and Lager recorded two steals.