ROCHELLE — The Rochelle varsity girls basketball team is less than two weeks away from tipping off the 2018 season against Oregon at home on Nov. 12. The Lady Hubs graduated several experienced players including Morgan Baker and Jacie Wyatt from last year’s team, but head coach Tony Rowan is optimistic about the young talent in his arsenal this season.
“We’re going to have a lot of youth on the floor but the nice thing is that we’ll have experience,” Rowan said. “A lot of our younger kids played with the varsity team over the summer through tournaments and leagues. It’s not going to be all daisies when our games come around but we’re hoping to keep on building from what we did over the summer.”
Rochelle will return senior All-Conference guard Abby Lundquist this winter, and Rowan said he will continue looking for big plays from the four-year varsity standout. Lundquist has led the Lady Hubs, who brought home 12 victories during the 2017 season, in scoring over each of the last two seasons.
“She has been a more vocal leader over these first few days of practice,” Rowan said. “We’re going to ask her to keep on scoring the way she can, and we’re going to ask her to make plays and defend up and down the floor. A lot of the girls look up to her, and we need to keep making sure she’ll be in the right realm for being successful.”
While there aren’t many players returning from the Rochelle frontcourt last season, Rowan said that senior forward Emilee Dueringer will play a more significant role this winter after earning her first varsity minutes last year. Rowan also said that junior forward Gabrielle Harding will be an important player for the Lady Hubs after crediting her work over the summer and fall.
“Emilee earned a lot of minutes toward the end of last season and we’re hoping that will help us out,” Rowan said. “She produced really well at the end of the season. All of the other minutes are gone from last year and we don’t have many returners, but many of the sophomores and freshmen who are going to play up will be huge for us.”
Rowan said the Lady Hubs will need multiple players to handle the ball and attack the basket if the team hopes to be successful on offense this year. Rowan also said he expects to play more zone defense this year, as opposed to the man-to-man defense he used more often last season, with many new players in the fold.
Underclassmen who could rise up and see varsity time this season include sophomores Bella Lodico, Afi Gati and Sofia Lenkaitis as well as freshmen Zoey Tabor, Josie Lundquist, Sylvia Hasz and Lucy Bunger.
“We’re not the tallest team out there but we’re athletic and we’re strong,” Rowan said. “As long as we can attack the basket, we’ll be successful in games. We had a lot of experience on the floor last year and we were able to anticipate and do a lot more defensively. But we have a whole new batch of girls so we’ll be mixing up a lot of zones and man.”