ROCHELLE — What could’ve descended into a blowout quickly evolved into a competitive finish when the Rochelle varsity girls basketball team squared off with Sterling on Friday.
Only senior guard Abby Lundquist was able to score in the third quarter for Rochelle, as the Golden Warriors rallied around their perimeter defense to enter the fourth quarter leading 38-22. However, Rochelle’s young guards including freshmen Josie Lundquist and Zoey Tabor turned the tables on Sterling, forcing multiple turnovers in the final minutes to bring the Golden Warriors within six points.
But the early deficit was too deep for the Lady Hubs, and despite 22 second-half points from Abby Lundquist, who finished with a game-high 27 points, Rochelle fell by a final score of 51-40 to drop to 3-6 overall.
“The girls were taking more chances and we really wanted to pack them in defensively,” head coach Tony Rowan said. “We played a zone all game, and as we transitioned into our man-to-man defense, the girls really took advantage of them. We aren’t able to play man against a team like Sterling but in the future, we’ll probably mix up our defensive alignments more than we did tonight.”
Rochelle came out looking to keep Sterling’s bigger forwards including Josi Borum and Gretchen Gould, who combined for 19 points, from making plays around the basket. But the Golden Warriors countered by pressuring Lundquist when she had the ball, limiting her open shot attempts and forcing other Lady Hub players to score. Freshman Lucy Bunger made a put-back shot late in the first quarter, but Rochelle trailed 14-6 after one quarter.
“They have a lot of great post players who they can pound inside,” Rowan said. “We wanted to give as much help as we could to the inside and we were going to take our chances on those long shots… We’ll roll with the punches when we take away what we’re capable of taking away.”
Sterling stymied Lundquist in the first half, holding her to one point in the second quarter. Senior Makenna Ferrari knocked down an open 3-pointer to give the Lady Hubs a boost, and although both Josie Lundquist and Bunger made key layups, Rochelle found itself down 25-14 at halftime.
But the Golden Warriors weren’t able to keep Abby Lundquist down for long. With the Lady Hubs using more screens and running Lundquist off the ball, the senior found her rhythm, scoring all eight of Rochelle’s points in the third quarter before adding 14 in the fourth quarter, more than any Sterling player scored all game. Tabor and freshman Sylvia Hasz each chipped in two points in the fourth quarter.
“We tried taking the ball out of her hands at times and we were getting her screens,” Rowan said. “Teams lock in on her when she comes off ball screens, and we were finding different ways to create space for her.”