Girls Basketball: Defensive effort highlights loss to LaSalle-Peru

Junior Kara Martinez dribbles around LaSalle-Peru's Taylor Martyn during the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball game against the Cavaliers on Tuesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Henkel, Darby reach double figures in 55-44 defeat

ROCHELLE — Head coach Ryan McQuade was thrilled with the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team’s defensive effort during Tuesday’s Interstate 8 matchup against LaSalle-Peru. 

Junior Sydney Tabor spent most of the evening guarding Cavalier standout Brooklyn Ficek, holding the talented scorer to only two points as the Lady Hubs hung tough with LaSalle-Peru throughout the first half. While Rochelle battled valiantly on the defensive end, the Lady Hubs were unable to string together enough made shots to overcome a third-quarter deficit, falling 55-44. Rochelle (5-16, 3-4 Interstate 8) faces Newark on the road Thursday evening at 7 p.m.

“That was the best game I’ve seen Sydney play at this level,” McQuade said. “The effort from Sydney and from all of our girls on defense put us in a position to win tonight. Unfortunately, they were able to hit shots at the end of the game when they needed to. I really liked the way we played tonight and LaSalle-Peru has a lot of talented scorers. I’m not disappointed at all.”

The Lady Hubs found success with their pick-and-roll offense early, with junior forward Kennedy Adamski screening and scoring on a pair of layups at the rim. Junior Alivia Henkel continued to be the catalyst for the Rochelle offense, knocking down mid-range shots and attacking the rim with her speed and athleticism to convert three first-quarter field goals. Henkel finished with a team-high 21 points for the Lady Hubs, who led the Cavaliers 15-14 after the first quarter.

“Our confidence has grown over the last few games and that’s something we didn’t really see at the beginning of the season,” McQuade said. “We’re starting to see the girls play with more confidence and if we can continue to build on that newfound confidence, I like our chances against nearly every team on our schedule as we move toward the end of the season.”

LaSalle-Peru found most of its first-half offense from the perimeter, where guard Taylor Martyn sank four of her five 3-pointers in the game, with nearly all of them coming from the corners. The Cavaliers snuck ahead 27-24 entering the third quarter, where LaSalle-Peru received an unexpected spark from guard Jasmine Garman, who knocked down two triples and recorded 16 of her team-leading 20 points in the game during the second half to ignite the Cavalier attack.

“The next step for us will be winning tight games,” McQuade said. “Newark has been extremely competitive and going to their place will be tough, but I like how we’re playing right now.”

Down 37-30 entering the fourth quarter, the Lady Hubs found open looks from the 3-point line and the mid-range area, but were unable to sink enough shots to stay within range of the Cavaliers, who earned their first double-digit lead of the night midway through the fourth quarter. A last-ditch effort from Henkel and sophomore Kendyl Darby, who made two 3-pointers on Tuesday and scored five of her 11 points in the fourth quarter, wasn’t enough for Rochelle.