ROCHELLE — The Lady Hubs were less than five minutes away from sending seniors Lilly Portzen and Gabby Harding out with a win when the Rochelle girls hosted Morris for their annual Senior Night basketball game on Friday.
Dominant defense and solid scoring performances from Josie Lundquist and Sam House helped the Lady Hubs build a seven-point halftime advantage and remain ahead five points after three quarters. Morris didn’t lead for the majority of the contest, but the Redskins rallied behind Alexis Johnson and Mackenzie Lind, who combined for 13 fourth-quarter points as Morris erased its deficit and escaped Rochelle with a 40-35 win. The Lady Hubs are now 3-14.
“Gabby’s a very vocal player whether she’s on the court or off the court,” head coach Tony Rowan said. “I’m very proud of her. She had a very bad injury on the first day of summer, but she came to everything she could. We talk about having leadership characteristics in our program, and she has them... Lilly’s a very positive player and she always tries to put a smile on our faces. She strives to improve herself and her teammates.”
Rochelle has faced the three-quarter court press many times this season, but the Lady Hubs were the players getting active defensively early in the game. Morris guards had trouble getting the ball over the half-court line, and the Redskins mustered only one field goal in the first quarter, which Rochelle led 6-4 entering the second quarter. All six points came from Lundquist, who finished the night with a team-best 12 points.
“The girls were great in the first half,” Rowan said. “We worked on our press today and we’ve seen a lot of different presses throughout the season. We knew how to run the press simply from knowing how other teams ran the press against us.”
Six different Lady Hubs scored points in the second quarter including House, who was dynamite in the mid-range area all evening long. Sophomore Abby Luxton made two putback layups over Morris defenders in the quarter, allowing Rochelle to build an 18-11 lead at halftime. House canned four mid-range jumpers in the second half, finishing the game with 10 points.
Johnson gave the Redskins their first lead of the game, knocking down a 3-pointer from the top of the line that put Morris ahead 29-27 with about four minutes remaining. Lind added two layups, including one on an inbounds pass, that helped the Redskins remain ahead 36-33 with 45.6 seconds to play. Johnson sunk three free throws in the final minute of the fourth quarter, where Morris outscored Rochelle 19-9. Johnson led all scorers with 13 points.
“They spaced the floor well and took good shots,” Rowan said. “When we rotate slow, it opens up shooting lanes for them, and they started taking those lanes in the fourth quarter.”