ROCHELLE — The 2018-19 season was a wild ride for the Rochelle varsity boys basketball team and head coach Tim Thompson. But the Hubs peaked at the right moment, and Thompson will look to build off the program’s successes this year as the team rebuilds for next season.
Rochelle finished with an overall record of 15-17, winning one regional game over Freeport while taking No. 1 seed Rock Falls to the final seconds in a tough semifinal loss. The Hubs recorded two separate five-game winning streaks this season while also totaling one six-game losing streak.
“I thought we had a nice season and I thought we battled through a ton of adversity,” Thompson said. “Our juniors came together and started playing better basketball when Johnny [Beck] was out, and right around the end of Christmas break, I thought the kids were playing some really nice basketball. But then Seth [Gould] went down, so we had to battle through a lot of adversity and our kids had to figure out what their roles were.”
The Hubs will lose five senior players to graduation including forward Johnny Beck, who led Rochelle with 21.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. Seniors Kaleb Ackland (7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game) and Noah Knight (3.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game) also played significant roles on both ends of the floor.
“The senior class did a really nice job this season,” Thompson said. “Kaleb was a warrior all year long and he was our best offensive rebounder. Noah was a leader the moment he stepped into our program, and he never complained once about his role… Johnny was one of the most skilled players I’ve coached in my 20 years here, and he’s so good at blocking shots that he changed many games for us.”
Rochelle could potentially return four starters next season including juniors Seth Gould (10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game), Austin Brown (6.2 points and 4.0 assists per game), Landan Martin (9.2 points and 1.6 steals per game) and sophomore Garrett Burdin (10.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game). The Hubs finished 13-16 overall at the sophomore level while going 15-12 at the freshman level.
“I thought the juniors came into their own by the end of the year,” Thompson said. “It was a struggle for some of those guys early on, but as they played more quality minutes, I thought their performances improved… Those guys are going to be the primary focus of our core next year.”