Boys Basketball: Slow start fuels Hubs against Stillman Valley

Senior Seth Gould extends for a layup around Stillman Valley's Justin Fisher during Rochelle's basketball game against the Cardinals on Wednesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle ups the intensity for 75-62 win over Cardinals

ROCHELLE — A stern message from head coach Tim Thompson set the Rochelle boys basketball team into high gear when the Hubs hosted nonconference foe Stillman Valley on Wednesday.

The Cardinals opened the contest with a 7-0 run over the Hubs, who went scoreless over roughly the first four minutes of action. Rochelle called a timeout to reset, and the Hubs responded with fervor, dominating the second and third quarters and coasting to a 75-62 win over Stillman Valley. Rochelle (13-11) will face Plano at home on Friday at 7 p.m.

“We came together after the first quarter and coach Thompson wasn’t happy about that run,” senior Seth Gould said. “We knew we shouldn’t have let that happen, and from that point, we were in agreement that we weren’t going to let that team beat us.”

Rochelle erased Stillman Valley’s lead with a 9-0 spurt early in the second quarter behind a drop-off layup and a corner 3-pointer from sophomore Tanner Lager, who has missed the bulk of the season with a lower-body injury. With his team leading 25-19, Rochelle guard Garrett Burdin took over the final minutes of the first half, putting two layups home before sinking back-to-back 3-pointers. The Hubs took a 36-29 lead over the Cardinals into halftime.

“It felt good to get the win tonight and it feels good to get back into the mix,” Lager said. “I started strong in the sophomore game and I was able to get into my rhythm. I shot the ball well tonight, and I’m hoping to play a role with the varsity team as the season moves on.”

The Cardinals had no answers for Rochelle’s fast-paced offense in the third quarter, where eight Hubs entered the scorebook including Gould, who scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Guards Spencer Warborg and Landan Martin each knocked down triples for the Hubs, who blew the game wide open with a 62-44 advantage entering the fourth quarter.

“I knew I could score against these guys,” Gould said. “I got to the rim a lot in the first half, but I wasn’t able to finish my shots. I told myself during halftime that layups are my specialty and I need to make them… Having so many players score really motivates us. When we hear the crowd screaming for every player, those cheers motivate us to finish the game strong.”

Rochelle led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter before Stillman Valley came within 13 points behind a strong effort from Evan Davidson, who led the Cardinals with 18 points. Martin scored a team-high 19 points for the Hubs, with Burdin adding 16 points and Lager totaling seven points. Seniors Austin Brown and Ben Hickey combined for 11 points.

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