ROCHELLE — Junior Zoey Tabor delivered a big-time moment for the Lady Hub varsity basketball team when Rochelle tried for its first win over Kaneland in seven years on Saturday.
With the Knights leading 32-30 and less than a minute in regulation, Tabor sprinted down the court after an inbounds pass and found a driving lane behind the Kaneland defense, converting a game-tying layup at the 38-second mark that ultimately sent the Interstate 8 Conference contest into overtime. Rochelle then held the Knights scoreless over the entire overtime period, sealing a 37-32 victory and the varsity team’s first win against Kaneland since 2014.
“We really prepared for what Kaneland was going to bring us,” Tabor said. “We worked really hard during the week to clean up our offense… We knew we had to stay in front of them, jam them up and not let them cut to the basket… We worked on our shooting during the week and seeing what we had on the floor. It was an awesome experience being in an overtime game.”
Rochelle outscored Kaneland 5-0 in the overtime period, with all five points coming on free throws. Senior Sofia Lenkaitis made a pair of free throws to put the Lady Hubs ahead 34-32 early in the period before Tabor converted two more to make it a two-possession game with less than a minute to play. Rochelle forced 17 Kaneland turnovers on Saturday and held Knight forward Kylie Holubecki, who had a game-high 11 points, to zero points during overtime.
“We’ve had some really good practices recently and we feel we’ve taken some steps forward,” said junior Josie Lundquist, who scored eight points for the Lady Hubs. “We knew they could cut to the basket really well and they were going to play with so much intensity every possession. Our defense had to be on point and we couldn’t be beat to the basket because that would be an automatic two points… We haven’t had a win like this in the three years I’ve been here.”
Rochelle and Kaneland stuck together throughout the game, with neither team taking a lead larger than six points. Lundquist and senior forward Afi Gati sparked the Lady Hubs early, scoring eight first-quarter points and helping Rochelle take a 12-8 lead. Lundquist hit Rochelle’s only 3-pointer of the afternoon in the second quarter, where Kaneland slipped ahead 16-15.
Senior forward Elise Hayenga gave Rochelle a boost early in the second half, sinking a pair of shots under the basket for four third-quarter points. Tabor made three second-half shots and scored eight of her team-high 10 points over the final two quarters and overtime. While free throws allowed Rochelle to seal the win in overtime, those same shots doomed Kaneland in regulation, as the Knights missed 15 free throws including five in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Hubs (1-1) will play their next game at Sandwich on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.