Girls Basketball: Rochelle defense stifles Richmond-Burton

Senior Alivia Henkel scored a team-high 24 points during the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team's win over Richmond-Burton on Wednesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Henkel scores 24 points as Lady Hubs win season opener 50-15

OREGON — The Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team smothered Richmond-Burton with its defensive pressure and intensity on Wednesday, when the purple and white dominated the Rockets 50-15 to start the Oregon Tipoff Tournament and the 2023-24 season with a victory. It’s the first win at RTHS for head coach Jon Gehm, who took over the program earlier this year.

Senior Alivia Henkel scored a team-high 24 points for the Lady Hubs, who opened the game on a 9-2 run during the first quarter. Richmond-Burton struggled mightily against the energetic Rochelle defense, which forced a myriad of full-court and half-court turnovers that allowed the Lady Hubs to enter transition, where Henkel did most of her damage on the offensive end.

“Our energy is really great and we have a really strong bond,” Henkel said. “We’ve been working on our zone defense and it’s all about ball pressure and working hard. I thought we did that tonight. Coach [Jon] Gehm has brought a lot of energy and he’s encouraged all of us to work really hard. He’s teaching up to bring the energy in practice and I think that’s amazing.”

The Lady Hubs held a 12-5 lead entering the second quarter, where Henkel converted five field goals as Rochelle began to pull away from the Rockets. Senior Kara Martinez added a pair of transition layups, while junior Abby Metzger scored on two low-post shots to provide a boost for the Lady Hub offense. Rochelle entered the locker room with a 30-8 halftime advantage.

“We made great passes and we played with great energy,” Henkel said. “It felt good to be back on the court, especially after my injury, and it was a really exciting win. We’re all motivated to work on our shooting and I think we can expand our offensive game and grow as a team. We all know each other really well and I think we can improve on everything we did last year.”

Junior Kendyl Darby drained a 3-pointer to spark the Rochelle offense during the third quarter, where Henkel added three more field goals and senior Kennedy Adamski put home a pair of close-range shots to keep the Lady Hubs well ahead of the Rockets. The Lady Hubs clinched their tournament-opening win with a pair of fourth-quarter field goals from junior Payton Cesarone, who drilled a corner 3-pointer to cap off a five-point effort during Wednesday’s win.

Martinez finished with eight points for the Lady Hubs (1-0, 0-0 Interstate 8), who will face off against Rockford Christian on Thursday to conclude the pool round. Adamski and Metzger each recorded four points, while senior Loretta Atkinson chipped in two first-quarter points.