Highs in the 70s: Rochester breaks out offensively, beats No. 6 North Judson in season opener
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
NORTH JUDSON –- Emma Howdeshell was furious with herself. Then she got her atonement.
The sophomore point guard on the Rochester girls basketball team, Howdeshell could have given her team a four-point lead had she hit the second of two free throws with 11.8 seconds left and RHS leading 66-63 against host North Judson Thursday.
That would have given the Lady Zs a four-point lead. Given that it would have taken North Judson two possessions and they had no timeouts left, that might have salted away a win.
But Howdeshell missed her free throw, and North Judson’s Sophia Frasure hit the game-tying 3-pointer with just under five seconds left to force overtime.
But with RHS trailing 71-70 in overtime, Howdeshell hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:52 left, and that triggered a game-ending 9-2 run as the Class 2A, No. 19 Lady Zs prevailed over the Class 2A, No. 6 Lady Jays 79-73.
Howdeshell scored a career-high 16 points and was one of four RHS players in double figures. Lexy Thomas also had 16, and Kaitlin Rogers and Kennedy Jackson had 14 each.
RHS survived without Rogers and Thomas in the overtime after both fouled out in regulation. Emily Hughes and Mercedes Brown also missed the game for health reasons.
Millie Scorsone scored four of her eight points in overtime, including a post turnaround that made it 75-71. Sydney Haughs also sunk four free throws in the overtime.
“The sophomores are growing up,” RHS coach Brian Jennings said. “They’re maturing. They’re confident on the floor. I was concerned when Lexy and Kaitlin went out because those are our two main leaders, and I think we had some other kids step up in that overtime and lead. I thought Millie came in and was doing a great job leading. Kennedy on the offensive end did what we needed her to do. And then I told Syd Haughs … about the middle of the fourth quarter (and) we’re having some people get in foul trouble, and she’s kinda sitting on the end of the bench, and she hasn’t got in much, and I told her, ‘Syd, you’ve got to be ready down here. Make sure you’re stretched and loose because you’re going to go in and hit a game-winner.’ I’m going to call those free throws at the end of the game a game-winner.”
Lilliann Frasure scored a game-high 24 points for North Judson, but she did not score in overtime. Abby Chambers added 18, Sophia Frasure had 15, and Olivia Burkett had 11.
North Judson still had a chance trailing 75-73 after Howdeshell missed two more free throws with 27.1 seconds left in overtime. But Burkett missed, and Haughs scored her first career varsity points on two free throws with 19.1 seconds left.
After RHS’ Kami Burkett deflected a pass that Haughs picked off, Haughs sunk two more free throws with 14.3 seconds left to complete the scoring.
“It was a really good start game for us,” Howdeshell said. “And I’m excited for the rest of the season. Really excited.”
The 79 points were the most RHS has scored in a game since an 81-80 loss in overtime to Kankakee Valley in January 2014. The 79 points allowed by North Judson were the most they have allowed in a game since an 86-38 loss to Oregon-Davis in the 2016 sectional.
RHS jumped out to leads of 9-0 and 11-2. In the second quarter, Lilliann Frasure outscored the entire RHS team 13-8. She hit two straight 3-pointers to give the Lady Jays their first lead at 24-22 with 4:54 left in the half and later added two free throws to give Judson a four-point lead.
A Jackson bucket in the post and a Rogers transition layup off a Howdeshell hit-ahead assist tied the game before Olivia Burkett and Lilliann Frasure scored to restore a four-point lead.
North Judson led 31-28 at halftime, and neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way until Haughs’ late free throw spree in overtime.
Howdeshell gave RHS a 63-62 lead with a spin dribble move with 1:03 left. Sophia Frasire tied the game with a free throw with 44.1 seconds left.
Jackson made two free throws to put RHS ahead 65-63 with 27.7 seconds left. The possession arrow on a held ball with 13.1 seconds left gave RHS the ball, and Howdeshell was immediately fouled.
“You don’t even know how mad I was,” Howdeshell said of the missed free throw. “Well, for the 3-pointer, I didn’t even realize it was going to go in honestly. I was just really hoping for the best.”
Said Jennings: “Emma wants the ball at crunch time. She’s got to learn to manage it a little bit more, but I thought tonight she wants the ball, and we’ve got to have that person that wants the ball, and she’s such a good ballhandler and so quick that she can make some things happen. She wants that big shot, and I was glad she stepped up and knocked it down tonight.”
Kim Batten hit a pair of 3-pointers and added six for the Lady Zs.
North Judson has won at least 20 games each of the last four seasons while never allowing more than 38 points per game. North Judson coach Chris Newbauer called the Lady Zs’ bigs “tremendous.” But he also said their help-side defense betrayed them.
“We take pride on the defensive end,” Newbauer said. “We’ve given up less than 40 points on defense the last five years. I can count the amount of times we’ve given up more than 70 – I think once. That’s not good enough, plain simple.”
North Judson won the JV game 43-32. Emma Sells led RHS with 13 points, and Kallie Watson added seven. Savannah Eccles had four, Lilly Watson had three, Elizabeth Weaver had three and Haughs had two.
Rochester 79, North Judson 73 (OT, Thursday)
ROCHESTER (79) (1-0)
Kami Burkett 0 0-0 0, Emma Howdeshell 5 3-8 16, Kaitlin Rogers 6 0-0 14, Kennedy Jackson 6 2-4 14, Lexy Thomas 6 4-4 16, Kallie Watson 0 1-2 1, Kim Batten 2 0-0 6, Sydney Haughs 0 4-4 4, Millie Scorsone 4 0-0 8
TEAM: 29 14-22 79
NORTH JUDSON (73) (0-1)
Lilliann Frasure 8 6-7 24, Adalynn Harper 0 3-4 3, Olivia Burkett 5 1-4 11, Sophia Frasure 5 2-3 15, Abby Chambers 6 5-15 18, Gabby Boyd 0 0-0 0, Laci Garbison 1 0-0 2, Morgan Hensley 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 25 17-33 73
Three-point field goals:
Rochester 7 (Howdeshell 3, Rogers 2, Batten 2),
North Judson 6 (S. Frasure 3, L. Frasure 2, Chambers)
Total fouls: Rochester 24, North Judson 19
Fouled out: Rogers (RHS), 1:31, fourth; Thomas, 1:18, fourth; Harper (NJSP), :19.1, OT; S. Frasure (NJSP), :14.3, OT
Turnovers: Rochester 27, North Judson 18
Score by quarters
Rochester 20 8 19 19 13 – 79
North Judson 14 17 16 19 7 – 73
JV: North Judson 43, Rochester 32