ROCHELLE — The Lady Hubs were playing for more than just one victory when Rochelle took on the Plano Reapers at home for an Interstate 8 Conference basketball game Thursday evening.
With several players wearing blue headbands and garments in support of teammate Bella Lodico, the Lady Hubs went down to the wire before ultimately edging out the Reapers 50-47 and snapping their 15-game losing streak. In a show of sportsmanship, Plano players also wore blue on Thursday, and team captains presented Lodico with flowers and a card for her mother Tricia, who’s currently battling cancer, before tipping off the conference battle.
“It felt really great to know that I can rely on my teammates and the community to support me and my family,” Lodico said. “We’re always looking out for each other… They said before the game that not only were they playing for me, but they were playing for my mom, and that really stuck with me. I think that’s something that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Fittingly, Lodico was the player who sparked the Rochelle offense in the first quarter, scoring six straight points on an old-fashioned 3-point play and a 3-pointer from the left elbow to tie the game 15-15 entering the second quarter. Despite Plano’s Maddie Jule making three triples and totaling 15 first-half points, the Lady Hubs (4-24, 1-12 Interstate 8) held a 25-23 lead.
“I feel like we took a step forward tonight,” Lodico said. “We’re going to have more confidence as we prepare for our next game. We know we can play together, and we know we can take the energy we have on our home court and bring it with us on the road.”
Behind two 3-pointers from Sam House, who led the Lady Hubs with 13 points in the victory, Rochelle remained slightly ahead throughout the third quarter. The Lady Hubs shut down Plano forward Kyla Waller, who finished with only seven points on three field goals. Rochelle led the Reapers 37-34 entering the fourth quarter, where Jule scored just two points for Plano.
“It feels good to get this win, especially because this was for Bella’s mom,” House said. “We did our best to work as a team, and even though we were on a 15-game losing streak, we stayed together. I just had to concentrate and think about my team. We’re very proud of this win.”
Junior forward Afi Gati stepped up during a critical sequence in the fourth quarter, chasing down three offensive rebounds resulting in a corner 3-pointer from sophomore Josie Lundquist, who recorded 12 points in the game. Lundquist’s triple put Rochelle up 45-41, and a free throw from Sofia Lenkaitis, who had 10 points on Thursday, extended the Lady Hub lead.
Plano nearly rallied to steal the lead away in the final minute, converting two field goals back-to-back and making it a 46-45 game with 46.4 seconds remaining. The Reapers fouled to stay alive, but Lundquist and Lenkaitis each knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
The Rochelle girls basketball team trailed by only two points heading into the fourth quarter of its Interstate 8 Conference game against the Morris Redskins on Tuesday.
The Lady Hubs held Morris to four third-quarter points, and the girls entered the fourth quarter trailing 27-25. The Redskins were too strong in the end, however, outscoring Rochelle 15-7 over the final eight minutes and winning 42-32. The Lady Hubs dropped to 3-24 overall and 0-12 in the conference.
Sophomore Josie Lundquist led Rochelle with 11 points and six rebounds in the loss, while Sam House added eight points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Lucy Bunger scored six points, and Afi Gati grabbed five rebounds. Morris led the Lady Hubs 23-17 at halftime.