ROCHELLE — Replacing an all-time scoring leader won’t be easy for the Lady Hubs, but Rochelle head coach Tony Rowan is confident that returning members of the varsity girls basketball team will be ready to step up as the program tips off the 2019-20 season.
The Lady Hubs hosted their first practice of the winter season on Monday as the girls gear up for their season-opener at the Forreston Thanksgiving Tournament in roughly two weeks. Rochelle will need its returning varsity players to contribute across the board after the departure of three-time All-Conference guard Abby Lundquist, who finished her high school career as the school’s single-season and career scoring record holder.
“These girls are excited to be here,” Rowan said. “They’re very coachable and they all want to learn… The experience factor was huge for the girls last season, and to have sophomore players returning with a full year of varsity experience, they’ll know the intensity and the physicality of the varsity game. They’ve trained a lot this summer so they can make an impact this season.”
Sophomore Zoey Tabor returns to lead the Rochelle backcourt, while sophomore Josie Lundquist will see an increased role as she continues following the path forged by her older sister. Sophomore Lucy Bunger and juniors Bella Lodico, Sofia Lenkaitis and Afi Gati all earned experience as varsity players this past season. Rowan also said that sophomore Abigail Luxton, who played for the freshman team last winter, will see varsity minutes this year.
“There’s no way to replace Abby and her legacy as a player and a leader of this program will continue to live on,” Rowan said. “Zoey’s going to hopefully step up from a scoring standpoint and Lucy has put a lot of hours in over the last year and a half to play these varsity minutes and make an impact. Abigail has done a phenomenal job from last season to where we are now and she’s probably going to be one of our varsity starters.”
Rochelle will make its Interstate 8 Conference debut against the Kaneland Knights on Dec. 3 and the Lady Hubs are scheduled to face Stillman Valley for their home opener on Dec. 9. The varsity program has greater expectations after finishing 7-24 overall this past season.
“It will be interesting to see how we fare with so many newcomers to the program and having to face a couple of monsters in Sycamore and Kaneland,” Rowan said. “We may not win as many games but I expect us to be able to compete in every single one.”