DIXON — A fast start allowed the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team to gain the early lead over Rockford Christian during the opening round of the KSB Dixon Holiday Classic.
Rochelle’s pick-and-roll offense proved successful during the first quarter, with four different players knocking down shots to give the Lady Hubs a 13-10 lead. But the Royal Lions wore Rochelle down as the game progressed, utilizing their three-quarter-court press defense and transition attack to dominate the second half and take down the Lady Hubs 49-35.
“I thought we came out strong and we were hot to begin the game,” head coach Ryan McQuade said. “I thought we took our foot off the pedal and we allowed Rockford Christian to get back into the game. We allowed them to be the aggressors on both ends of the floor and when that happens, it’s tough to stop the momentum from continuing to spiral downward.”
Senior Adriannah Davis-Carter converted a pair of mid-range jumpers to give Rochelle an offensive boost in the first quarter, while junior Torrin Nantz made two 3-pointers in the first half to stretch the floor for the Lady Hubs. Nantz’s second triple was Rochelle’s only basket of the second quarter, however, with the Royal Lions sneaking ahead 17-16 at halftime.
“We looked like we had been off for a while because of the holiday,” McQuade said. “I thought our defense looked sharp toward the beginning of the game, but I thought we grew tired as the game went on and we started to get heavy legs. That’s when we started to allow those cuts into the lane and when that happens, the other team’s able to get some easy looks at the rim.”
With senior guard Tess Combs leading the attack, Rockford Christian upped the pace during the third quarter, scoring on several transition layups and forcing multiple Rochelle turnovers in the three-quarter-court press defense. The Royal Lions led 32-22 entering the fourth quarter, where senior forward Abby Luxton shined for the Lady Hubs, hitting three shots including an old-fashioned 3-point play for seven of her team-leading 15 points in the game.
“I’m hoping this game continues to catapult Abby’s confidence,” McQuade said. “She’s becoming more and more confident offensively and that’s what we need from her. We didn’t score as many points as we’d like, but I didn’t think our offense was the issue today.”
Nantz and Davis-Carter each finished with six points for Rochelle (6-10, 1-3 Interstate 8), while freshman Kendyl Darby chipped in four points during the fourth quarter.