Girls Basketball: Lady Hubs battle Sandwich on Senior Night

The Rochelle Lady Hub basketball team recognized its five senior players before tipping off Friday's game against Sandwich. Above from left to right are Bailey Jackson, Torrin Nantz, Miraya Montes, Francesca Williams and Maleah Pointer. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle recognizes five senior players, falls just short in 35-34 loss

ROCHELLE — Friday’s Senior Night varsity basketball contest between the Rochelle Lady Hubs and the Sandwich Indians was a physical battle down to the final seconds of regulation.

Junior Alivia Henkel swished two free throws with 15.6 seconds remaining in the game to tie the score and force Sandwich to run one more out-of-bounds play. The Indians were able to find guard Hannah Treptow, who pushed the ball down the floor before losing possession inside the painted area. A mad scramble for the ball resulted in a foul on Sandwich forward Kaylin Herren, who missed her first free throw and made her second to give the Indians a one-point lead.

With 5.6 seconds left in regulation, Henkel received the inbounds pass, but a triple team from Sandwich shut down Rochelle’s final play of the evening, with the Indians outlasting the Lady Hubs 35-34 in an extremely physical and defensive contest that included 42 personal fouls and three players fouling out. Henkel led Rochelle (7-21, 5-7 Interstate 8) with 12 points in the game.

“Our message to the girls during practice yesterday was that this game was going to be a battle,” head coach Ryan McQuade said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight and we knew we had to be physical because they have some really physical basketball players. I thought we matched their level of physicality, but it was unfortunate that we couldn’t find a shot at the end.”

The Lady Hubs celebrated their five senior players including Torrin Nantz, Francesca Williams, Maleah Pointer, Bailey Jackson and Miraya Montes before the game. All five seniors took the floor to start the game and set the tone defensively, holding Sandwich to only two first-quarter field goals. Sophomore Kendyl Darby scored all five Rochelle points in the opening quarter, as both teams fought feverishly in the half court to prevent the other team from reaching the rim.

“I’m so proud of our seniors and this night was about them,” McQuade said. “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to win this game, but we were right there at the end. Our seniors came out and played so hard, particularly on the defensive end, and they kept us in the game over those first few minutes. Sandwich was looking for a good start and we didn’t allow that to happen.”

The Indians took a 6-5 lead into the second quarter, where both teams managed just two field goals each, as Rochelle’s full-court press wore down the Sandwich offense while the Indians jumped into passing lanes and forced several turnovers from the Lady Hubs. Behind seven points from guard Alexis Sexton, Sandwich remained ahead of Rochelle 11-10 at halftime.

The physicality of the evening reached another level during the second half, where the two teams combined for 28 fouls as well as multiple blocked shots and tie-ups that resulted in jump balls. Sandwich leaned on 6-foot-1 forward Claire Allen, who was held scoreless in the first half but scored all 10 of her points in the second half before fouling out and receiving a technical foul midway through the fourth quarter. Herren and Darby also fouled out in the fourth quarter.

“I couldn’t fault the effort from our girls tonight,” McQuade said. “We held Sandwich to 35 points and we should be able to win a game like that. Unfortunately, there were some key moments including missed free throws and turnovers here and there that were determining factors.”

A pair of putback layups from Allen allowed the Indians to remain ahead 19-16 entering the fourth quarter, where Treptow knifed through the Lady Hub defense for a layup and knocked down a 3-pointer to give Sandwich a 30-21 lead, its largest lead of the evening. Rochelle refused to back down, however, with Nantz scoring seven fourth-quarter points and going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line over the final minutes to keep the Lady Hubs in the game.

The Lady Hubs, who entered the double bonus early in the fourth quarter, went 11-for-18 on free throws alone in the quarter to claw back into the game, bringing Sandwich within two points before Henkel’s free throws in the final seconds tied the score at 34-34. Darby finished with 10 points and sophomore Abby Metzger added three fourth-quarter points for Rochelle in the loss.