Girls Basketball: Eastland smothers Rochelle in Forreston tourney opener

Sophomore Zoey Tabor dribbles against Eastland's Jenna Green during Rochelle's game against the Cougars on Thursday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Lady Hubs struggle to score as Cougars win 52-20

FORRESTON — The Rochelle girls basketball team’s inexperienced backcourt was immediately put to the test when the Lady Hubs tipped off the Forreston Thanksgiving Tournament against 2018-19 IHSA 1A State Championship runner-up Eastland on Thursday.

The Cougars showed their full-court pressure right away, forcing several Rochelle turnovers in the first half and scoring easy baskets in the process. Eastland held an enormous lead at halftime, and while the Lady Hubs found some offense in the second half, the Cougars coasted to a 52-20 win over Rochelle. The Lady Hubs (0-1) will play two games this weekend.

“It was definitely rough,” head coach Tony Rowan said. “We need to have more fight and we can’t be taking steps backward on the court when we need to be moving the ball forward. That’s going to be the biggest thing for us.”

Sophomore Lucy Bunger scored Rochelle’s first basket of the season on a short layup under the basket that stopped an 8-0 Eastland run to start the game. The Lady Hubs made only two field goals in the first quarter, with the second coming from sophomore Zoey Tabor, who led Rochelle with four points in the opening quarter. The Cougars led 15-6 before limiting the Lady Hubs to only two free throws in the second quarter.

“We need to find the open girl,” Rowan said. “We had girls in the right spots where we could have good passing lanes, but we were trying to make 40-foot passes instead of 10-foot passes. Those are plays we don’t make in practice and hopefully in any more games. We need to see the right read and make the right choice with the ball.”

Eastland entered the third quarter leading 32-8, and the Cougars continuing applying pressure by grabbing offensive rebounds and making perimeter shots. While sophomore forward Abi Luxton stepped up with six points for Rochelle, the Lady Hubs found themselves trailing 50-16 and on a running clock for the remainder of the game. Rochelle will continue tournament play against Forreston and Stockton this weekend.

“A lot of our late-game offense came through spacing,” Rowan said. “As soon as we see the space on the floor and make the right read, the game will get easier for us. Right now, the game is a little fast for us and we need to get better.”

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