MARENGO — Rochelle varsity boys basketball coach Tim Thompson said that junior guards Austin Brown and Seth Gould were the catalysts when the Hubs opened the E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic against Woodstock at Marengo High School on Saturday.
The two guards teamed up for the most important play of the game with roughly three seconds remaining. Tied 62-62, Gould tipped Brown’s missed free-throw attempt, and Brown corralled the ball before laying in the final two points of the game. Woodstock called timeout with under one second to play, but the Hubs got one final defensive stop to win 64-62 and snap a five-game losing streak. Rochelle improved to 4-8 overall with the victory.
“Seth tapped the ball right to Austin and he made the layup,” Thompson said. “They called timeout and we put Isaac Green on the inbounds passer. They tried throwing the ball deep down the court but Isaac batted the ball down and that’s how we ended the game… Seth and Austin were attacking the rim and finishing well. They really got us back into the game.”
Brown scored a team-high 19 points for the Hubs, while Gould added 16 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. Sophomore Garrett Burdin recorded 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, with junior Landan Martin and senior Kaleb Ackland each totaling six points. Evan Bridges led Woodstock with 25 points and six 3-pointers made.
“I’m still curious how we did it,” Thompson said. “We had a really nice first quarter and we had a really poor third quarter like we’ve had all season. We came back from being down by 11 points to win... Woodstock was doing a lot of drive-and-kick and they shot a lot of 3-pointers. They kept shooting, and eventually they started getting cold.”
Rochelle advances to face Genoa-Kingston in the second round of the championship bracket on Thursday, Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. The Hubs defeated the Cogs earlier this season, and Rochelle has won seven straight games against Genoa-Kingston over the last three years. Senior Johnny Beck was the game-changer for Rochelle the first time around, but the Hubs will need to take down the Cogs without him as he remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
“Our first matchup was dominated by Johnny Beck preventing them from getting layups under the rim,” Thompson said. “Without Johnny down there, it’s going to be a different game. They played a really nice game against Elgin and they look a little quicker than us right now. We’re really going to have to guard them on the perimeter.”