Lady Zs rely on defense, Thomas, top North Judson
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The crowds are back for Rochester High School home basketball games. Lexy Thomas appreciates what the crowds provide.
Against North Judson at the RHS gym Thursday, she gave a sneak preview of what she hopes she can provide for the home crowds for the rest of the season.
Thomas scored 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Emma Howdeshell made eight of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter as the Rochester girls basketball team pulled away to beat visiting North Judson 49-35 in the season opener for both teams.
Howdeshell finished with 12 points, and Millie Scorsone scored eight of her nine in the second half.
Sophia Frasure led North Judson with 10 points, all in the second half. Morgan Hensley added nine.
Rochester committed 24 turnovers but forced 29. North Judson also made just 7 of 17 free throws and did not record a field goal in the final 3:50.
Rochester coach Brian Jennings has set a goal of allowing 37 points or fewer in every game. Their defense mainly consisted of face-guarding Frasure, who averaged 11 points per game last year and is North Judson’s leading returning scorer.
“As long as we keep our communication up,” Jennings said. “I think the biggest thing we noticed tonight is everybody is on the same page. Now every once in awhile, we missed a few assignments, and they found out we can’t miss those assignments. So I think we’re going to stay aggressive in it and I think we can expand on it a little bit more.”
Rochester led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter after a Kennedy Jackson post finish after a high-low pass from Sydney Haughs.
But Jocilynn Radtke answered with a 3-pointer to make it 35-20.
It was 39-24 after a Thomas putback, but North Judson went on a 9-0 run. Hensley had a basket down low and then turned a nifty lefty half-hook off the left block into a 3-point play. A Frasure layup in the post and two Frasure free throws made it 39-33.
Howdeshell split a pair of free throws, but then North Judson would slice the lead down to 40-35 on two Frasure free throws with 1:36 left.
Rochester then finished with a 9-0 run. Seven of the points came on Howdeshell free throws.
“I think that we had a lot that were unforced turnovers, and then I think Rochester’s defense gave us something we haven’t seen before,” North Judson first-year coach Bayley Goodman said. “You know, we haven’t played another team. We’re just going against our JV. So I think playing against another varsity kinda sped us a lot more than what we were expecting.”
Said Thomas: “We like to make the other team uncomfortable. That’s our motto.”
Rochester went on a 9-0 run covering the first and second quarters to take a 16-7 lead. Haughs scored on a putback with 47 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Lady Zs their first lead at 9-7.
“Just a great, great night,” Jennings said of Haughs. “She comes off the bench and gets the ball in the corner and hits a quick 3. And I thought her defensive effort was just phenomenal. Came up with some loose balls, made some nice passes. … This one came down to some really good role players step up and do their job tonight, and they need to be recognized. I thought Syd Haughs did a great job across the board tonight.”
A Scorsone free throw, a Howdeshell transition layup off a Kennedy Jackson assist – Jennings called Jackson a “driving force” off the bench – and a Thomas putback led to a North Judson timeout.
Gabby Boyd missed two free throws, and Thomas scored on another putback to push the lead to 16-7.
“Oh, God, this year we get fans,” Thomas said. “Bless the Lord for that. … For basketball, it was really good because in basketball, you need the cheer of the fans and your teammates to get you going and get it flowing, and that is exactly what happened here tonight.”
The lead was 16-9 at halftime and reached double digits for the first time at 22-11 in the third quarter when Haughs found Jackson for a transition layup.
A Kallie Watson 3-pointer off the dribble made it 27-15, and two Thomas free throws extended the lead to 14.
The lead reached 16 by the end of three quarters on two Scorsone baskets in the final 30 seconds.
Rochester also won the JV game 31-15 in Phil Bowers’ coaching debut.
Rylee Clevenger led Rochester with 10 points, Lilith Eaton and Ella McCarter had five each, Cydnie Lamb and Audrey Bolinger had four each, and Savanah Eccles had three.
Rochester 49, North Judson 35
NORTH JUDSON (35) (0-1)
Olivia Burkett 3 0-2 6, Gabby Boyd 1 0-4 2, Sophia Frasure 2 6-6 10, Hanna Chaffins 0 0-0 0, Morgan Hensley 4 1-3 9, Kennedy Baxter 1 0-0 3, Jocilynn Radtke 2 0-2 5
TEAM: 13 7-17 35
ROCHESTER (49) (1-0)
Kami Burkett 0 0-0 0, Emma Howdeshell 2 8-10 12, Rily Holloway 0 0-0 0, Lexy Thomas 6 2-3 14, Millie Scorsone 4 1-2 9, Kallie Watson 1 0-0 3, Sydney Haughs 2 0-1 5, Maddie Heinzmann 0 0-0 0, Lilith Eaton 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Jackson 3 0-0 6
TEAM: 18 11-16 49
Three-point field goals:
North Judson 2 (Radtke, Baxter),
Rochester 2 (Haughs, Watson)
Total fouls: North Judson 19, Rochester 14
Turnovers: North Judson 29, Rochester 24
Score by quarters
North Judson 7 2 8 18 – 35
Rochester 9 7 17 16 – 49
JV: Rochester 31, North Judson 15