ROCHELLE — Senior Abby Luxton felt her confidence growing throughout the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team’s nonconference matchup against Mendota on Monday. The 6-foot-1 forward’s excitement showed during the third quarter, when she beat a Trojan defender off the dribble and finished a layup through contact as her teammates cheered from the bench.
Luxton’s tough shot capped off a season-high 23-point scoring performance on Monday, when the Lady Hubs dominated the second half to defeat the Trojans 61-22. Rochelle (9-12, 2-4 Interstate 8) looked for Luxton early and often, with the senior forward using her superior size and length to convert several close-range shots against a much smaller Mendota frontcourt.
“I really feel confident enough to shoot the ball now and we’re reading each other much better on the floor,” Luxton said. “Our confidence levels are really high right now and it’s important that we continue playing as a team. I thought my rebounding was what allowed me to score most of my points tonight. We just focused on running our offense and it worked really well.”
The Lady Hubs emerged with a 19-9 lead after the first quarter, with seniors Lucy Bunger and Jordin Dickey each knocking down 3-pointers while Luxton converted four layups around the basket. Rochelle continued to feed Luxton the basketball inside during the second quarter, where the senior forward sunk four more shots under the basket while making 1-of-2 free throws to end the first half with 17 points. The Lady Hubs led Mendota 35-17 at the half.
“I was working on my shooting before the game and the most important thing for me before every game is having the right mindset,” Luxton said. “I focus on having the mindset that I can make shots and the ball will go through the basket and I think that mindset carries over into the game. Having that mindset helps me stay confidence throughout every game.”
The Trojans had no answers for the Lady Hub defense in the second half, scoring only five points and going the entire fourth quarter without a single point. While Rochelle flustered Mendota with its full-court pressure, Luxton anchored the half-court defense in the paint, blocking several Trojan shot attempts and closing out possessions with defensive rebounds.
“I think my main responsibility on defense is being a big body out there,” Luxton said. “I think some girls are intimidated by me and they don’t want to drive to the hoop. I want girls to take shots they aren’t very comfortable with and I feel confident that I can block shots.”
The Lady Hubs led Mendota 47-22 entering the fourth quarter, where sophomore Sydney Tabor shined with multiple aggressive drives to the basket. Tabor converted a pair of layups and went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line to finish with 10 points in the win. Freshman Abby Metzger also put home a pair of layups in the fourth quarter for four points off the bench.