Boys Basketball: Sterling overwhelms Rochelle in season opener

Senior Colton O’Rorke drives to the hoop during the Rochelle Hub varsity basketball game against Sterling on Wednesday. The Hubs lost 75-37 in the opening round of the Strombom Thanksgiving Tournament. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Hubs struggle on offense as Golden Warriors cruise to 75-37 win

SYCAMORE — Several members of the Rochelle Hub basketball team earned their first taste of varsity experience during Wednesday’s Strombom Tournament opener against Sterling. It was a rude awakening for the Hubs, who fell behind early and were run out of the gym as the Golden Warriors saw three starters reach double figures in scoring during a 75-37 victory over Rochelle.

Sterling started the game on a 14-3 run, forcing several turnovers with solid ball pressure and scoring on multiple transition layups at the basket. The Hubs were limited to only two field goals in the first quarter, with senior Raul Aguirre hitting a low-post shot and junior Eli Luxton sinking a 3-pointer. Rochelle (0-1, 0-0 Interstate 8) trailed the Golden Warriors 20-7 after the first quarter.

“Sterling has a really good team and they have a lot of players back from last season,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “I was really disappointed with our effort. I can accept a loss against a better team, but I can’t accept a loss when we’re jogging around and we’re getting manhandled physically. We talked before the season about some of our non-negotiables like diving for loose balls and grabbing offensive rebounds. We failed on a lot of those things today.”

The Hubs struggled to move the ball beyond the half-court line during the second quarter, as the Golden Warriors continued to take advantage of poor passing and ball handling from Rochelle. Despite a series of short-range makes from Luxton, who led the Hubs with nine points on Wednesday, Rochelle’s 23 first-half turnovers and overall shooting woes allowed Sterling to dominate the early portion of the game and enter the locker room with a 53-16 halftime lead.

“Sterling has solid athletes who are really physical and they can play good one-on-one defense,” Thompson said. “We were having difficulties getting the ball up the floor and we went several possessions without a shot. There aren’t many ways to win games that way and we have to figure out how we can get the ball out and how we can push the ball up the floor.”

The Hubs found some offensive rhythm in the third quarter, where better dribble penetration and ball movement around the perimeter led to more quality shot attempts. The Golden Warriors held a 69-28 lead entering the fourth quarter, where junior Chandler Cunningham converted back-to-back 3-pointers and a putback at the rim to end the evening with eight points.