MORRIS — With less than six seconds remaining in the Hub varsity basketball matchup against Morris on Wednesday, Rochelle was forced to improvise as the team looked for one final shot.
The Hubs attempted to run a set for junior Tanner Lager to score on an inside layup, but the Redskins successfully defended the play. Senior Garrett Burdin then inbounded the ball from the baseline to junior Noah Brown, who handed the ball back to Burdin as the clock nearly expired. Stepping back and firing from beyond the 3-point line, Burdin connected on the shot as the buzzer sounded, lifting Rochelle over Morris 54-51 and improving the team’s record to 7-6.
“We were trying to get something at the rim,” head coach Tim Thompson said. “We told the kids that if we didn’t score at the basket, we’d have to improvise. Garrett passed the ball to Noah and ran toward him for a hand-off. Garrett caught the ball around the volleyball line and he ended up juking the defender and stepping back for the shot. As soon as he shot the ball, I heard him say, ‘game time,’ and I knew from looking at the shot that the ball was going in.”
The buzzer-beating triple from Burdin, who led Rochelle with 13 points on Wednesday, sealed a come-from-behind effort after Morris build a double-digit advantage during the third quarter. The Redskins caught fire from 3-point range early, knocking down five triples in the first quarter to take an 18-10 lead. But the Hubs locked in on defense as the game progressed, holding Morris to only five fourth-quarter points and tying the game with roughly 30 seconds left.
“We were a little weary after Tuesday night and Morris came out strong,” Thompson said. “They shot 65 percent from 3-point range in the first half and we knew they wouldn’t be able to maintain that. We tightened up our defense in the second half and we did enough to make things more difficult for them. We forced some big turnovers in the fourth quarter and grabbed some loose balls to tighten the game up. We did enough to get back in the game.”
Brown scored 10 points and led the Hubs with four steals in the win, while Burdin and junior Ryan Simmons each added three steals on the defensive end. Junior Zach Sanford chipped in seven points for the Hubs, who will play their season finale at Ottawa on Saturday, March 13.