Girls Basketball: Defense ignites second-half rally against Plano

Sophomore Kendyl Darby drives past Plano defender Mikayla Walls during the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball game against the Reapers on Tuesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Henkel scores 21 second-half points as Rochelle wins home finale 49-41

ROCHELLE — A difficult first half didn’t deter Alivia Henkel and the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team from giving maximum effort over the final two quarters Tuesday evening, when the purple and white found themselves trailing by nine points against the Plano Reapers.

With Henkel leading the charge, Rochelle took control of the game on the defensive end, jumping into passing lanes and forcing numerous Plano turnovers that resulted in easy layups on the other end. The junior guard scored all 21 of her points in the second half, helping the Lady Hubs erase a third-quarter deficit and outlast the Reapers 49-41. Henkel made six third-quarter field goals for the Lady Hubs (8-21, 6-7 Interstate 8) in the win Tuesday night.

“I knew we had to come out strong during the second half because we had a rough first half,” Henkel said. “I wanted to come out and give my all and drive the ball more than I did in the first half. Our team came out with a lot more energy in the second half. We had kind of a bad attitude in the locker room after the first half, but we had a good talk and we came out ready to win.”

Sophomore Kendyl Darby spearheaded the charge for the Rochelle offense during the first quarter, using her dribble-drive and strong handles to beat two Plano defenders and finish a pair of layups at the rim. Darby finished with eight points for the Lady Hubs, who trailed 7-5 after the first quarter before taking the lead on a 3-pointer from senior Torrin Nantz, who converted three triples in the game including two in the second quarter. Nantz totaled 10 points in the win.

Plano closed the first half on a 5-0 run to surge ahead 19-14 at halftime. The Reapers leaned on forward Mikayla Walls, who led Plano with 22 points and nine made field goals in the game. Back-to-back layups from Walls during the third quarter gave the Reapers their largest lead of the game and forced a Rochelle timeout. It was then that the Lady Hubs cranked up the pressure on defense, forcing backcourt turnovers as well as turnovers in the half-court setting.

“I’m so glad that we won tonight because it’s our last home game of the season,” Henkel said. “We’ve worked so hard this season and I’m looking forward to finishing strong at the regional.”

Rochelle held a 34-29 lead entering the fourth quarter, where Henkel sank three close-range shots and went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch to help the Lady Hubs seal the Interstate 8 Conference win. Sophomore Abby Metzger finished with six points and made two field goals, while senior Bailey Jackson and junior Kennedy Adamski each had two points.