Boys Basketball: Rochelle takes conference rematch with Plano

Junior Eli Luxton dribbles around Plano defender Eric Cano during the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball game against the Reapers on Saturday. Luxton scored 22 points as the Hubs defeated Plano 71-62. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Luxton's effort results in 22 points as Hubs win 71-62

ROCHELLE — A better all-around effort enabled the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball team to avenge an Interstate 8 Conference loss against the Plano Reapers from earlier this season.

Junior Eli Luxton led the Hubs with 22 points, while sophomore Carson Lewis added 13 points and made four 3-pointers as Rochelle defeated Plano 71-62 on Saturday to split the conference home-and-home series. After ending a four-game losing streak against Rock Falls on Tuesday evening, Rochelle (8-15, 3-8 Interstate 8) snapped a three-game conference skid on Saturday.

“We didn’t play well the first time and I thought we played a lot harder in this game,” Luxton said. “My coaches are always telling me to be aggressive and go get rebounds. Knocking down my free throws at the end of the game and getting to the line really helped me find my rhythm.”

Three Rochelle players including Lewis, as well as juniors Jack Lodico and Jack Tracey, converted triples during the first quarter, where the Hubs took a 19-17 lead over the Reapers. Lewis nailed back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter to pace the Rochelle offense, while the Hubs flustered Plano with their ball pressure, forcing turnovers that allowed Rochelle to score in transition. Defensive rebounds also helped the Hubs close out possessions.

“We just have to keep playing hard for the rest of the season,” Luxton said. “We need to limit our turnovers and we need to continue boxing out for rebounds during every game.”

Luxton knocked down his first 3-pointer of the evening during the third quarter, where the Reapers saw forwards Christ Kelaba and Sammy Sifuentes hit a pair of shots to spark a brief rally that brought Plano within eight points, 50-42, entering the fourth quarter. Luxton’s aggressiveness on the glass put the Reapers in foul trouble, with Rochelle entering the double bonus early in the fourth quarter and ultimately going 13-for-17 on free throws in the quarter.

Luxton went 7-for-9 on free throws in the fourth quarter alone, while senior forward Raul Aguirre backed his way toward the basket for a pair of layups to help the Hubs seal their conference win. Aguirre finished with nine points, while Tracey recorded eight points and Lodico added seven points. Senior Colton O’Rorke went 4-for-4 on fourth-quarter free throws in the win.