Seniors Thomas, Burkett shine in final home game as Rochester beats Manchester
Holloway hits 4 treys, adds 13
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The seniors on the Rochester girls basketball team were hurting before Saturday’s game with Manchester, but for at least one more night, they were happy and healthy.
Lexy Thomas scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Rily Holloway hit four 3-pointers and scored 13 points to lead the Lady Zs to a 56-40 win over the Lady Squires at the RHS gym.
Thomas and Kami Burkett are Rochester’s two seniors, and they were honored on senior night. Thomas, a 5-10 post player, missed Thursday’s 42-40 win over Goshen with a hip injury that has lingered since volleyball season. Burkett, a 5-8 point guard, played just a week after suffering a torn left ACL against Tippecanoe Valley. Wearing a large black brace on the knee, she made a 3-pointer in the second quarter and also defended Manchester freshman point guard Brookelynn Buzzard.
Rochester coach Brian Jennings acknowledged Burkett’s ACL injury after the Goshen game and said she would miss the remainder of the regular season and try to play in the sectional, which begins Feb. 1.
But after seeing her practice on Friday, Jennings inserted her into the starting lineup.
“The other night against Goshen, we didn’t have our two seniors,” Jennings said. “And I thought we came out a little timid, a little unsure of ourselves. But as the game went on, we saw those underclassmen get their confidence back a little bit. Pulling out a two-point win there without Lex and without Kamrynn, it really built them back up. And then Friday, in practice, when Lex came out and they knew Kamrynn was going to be able to play again, it was really a nice sight to see. Everybody relaxed. We had our confidence back. And we had basically our team back in full for the first time in awhile.
“I literally went to the office and got a chair and just sat and watched because it was so nice.”
As for Thomas, her point total was just two short of her career high of 21, which was set against NorthWood earlier this season.
“Just the guards, they were feeding us and seeing us, and Millie (Scorsone), her great passes across the lane, and Kennedy (Jackson), just getting it in and kicking it out and re-posting and stuff like that, we’ve been working on that a lot. It’s just being able to read the floor. Everybody’s been good at that, reading the floor and seeing what’s open and seeing us posting.”
Ainsley West led Manchester with 12 points, and Buzzard added 11. Manchester fell to 3-17 overall and 3-5 in the Three Rivers Conference.
Rochester (15-7, 5-3 TRC) opened with a 13-2 run and never trailed. Thomas outscored the entire Manchester team 8-5 in the first quarter.
Burkett’s 3-pointer 15 seconds into the second quarter made it 22-5.
“Seeing Kami come out and playing, her face made my face light up,” Thomas said. “She had the biggest smile and stuff. And she was like, ‘I’m going to come out and give it my all, and if I fall, just keep going because I’ll get back up eventually.’ And I was like, ‘OK, Kam, we’ve got this.’”
Manchester pulled within 26-14 at halftime and would get as close as 39-31 in the fourth quarter before Rochester would go on an 11-0 run.
Sydney Haughs started the run with a jumper from the left elbow. Thomas scored on an up-and-under banker and again on a layup off a Millie Scorsone assist.
“We just fed the bog dog, and she ate tonight,” Jennings said of Thomas.
Watson fed Scorsone in the post, and Holloway dropped in a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 50-31.
Rochester led by as many as 21 in the fourth quarter.
Rochester also had a 33-23 rebounding advantage.
“When you dig yourself a hole, it’s hard to get out of, and we tried, and at different points of the game, we went on runs. … And for the rest of the game, we basically played even with them,” Manchester first-year coach Allie Kauffman said. “So you change that first quarter, and it’s a different ballgame.”
This was the teams’ first meeting since Rochester beat Manchester in last year’s sectional final. Rochester has won four of the last five meetings.
Rochester is 5-1 in January, and while the team’s health status varies from game to game, a man-to-man defense that has held every opponent to 45 points or fewer and the hot shooting of Holloway have been constants.
Holloway has made 14 of 25 3-point tries in her last four games. She has scored in double figures in all four games, which is the longest streak of her career.
“She’s got her shooting stroke down, and it’s really helped open the inside game for us,” Jennings said.
Rochester also took the JV game 46-34. Ella McCarter led Rochester with 12 points, and Rylee Clevenger had 11. Sarah Strasser added nine, Mia Howdeshell had five, Audrey Bolinger had four, and Cydnie Lamb had one.
Lady Z notes
Rochester travels to Northfield for their regular season finale Thursday. Northfield has won the last six meetings, including a 74-38 rout at the RHS gym last year. Northfield is 7-1 in the TRC and can clinch a share of the TRC title. Rochester can wrap up fourth place in the conference with a win. Ironically, archrival Tippecanoe Valley will be rooting for the Lady Zs as they are also 7-1 heading into their game just down Indiana 15 against Manchester. Sophomore post player Hannah Holmes scored 22 points for Northfield in a 48-35 win over Whitko Saturday, and she could be matched up on Thomas.
“They have had our number for the last three years,” Jennings said. “I mean, we haven’t even been close to them in three years. If there was a team that we could have played early in the season as opposed to late in the season, I think Northfield’s the team. They just seem to keep getting better and better.”
Rochester drew No. 10 Pioneer in a Class 2A, Sectional 37 quarterfinal at Lewis Cass. Game time is 6 p.m. Tuesday. Pioneer’s Ashlynn Brooke leads the state in scoring (25.7 ppg) and is second in the state in 3-pointers with 80. Senior teammate Hailey Cripe (18.7 ppg) has already broken the school record for scoring and passed the 1,600 mark in a 57-42 win at Winamac Tuesday.
Pioneer is seeking their fourth straight sectional title but their first in Class 2A after moving up per the IHSAA Success Factor. Rochester is in search of their third straight sectional title.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Jennings said. “It’s one thing to be a favorite going into a sectional like they are, but to be able to back it up … They’re the defending 1A state championship, and they’re moving up to 2A, but sure, they still got probably the best 1-2 combination of any team in the state. It’s just going to be hard to stop.”
Rochester 56, Manchester 40
MANCHESTER (40) (3-17, 3-5)
Aliala Atienza 0 0-0 0, Brookelynn Buzzard 3 2-4 11, Keilan Creager 1 3-3 5, Ainsley West 5 2-3 12, Makenzy Meyer 1 2-2 4, Trinity Akins 0 0-0 0, Maddy Miller 1 0-0 2, Kim Schroll 0 1-2 1, Molly Schanepp 1 0-0 2, Gracie Lauer 1 0-1 2, Olivia Neal 0 1-2 1
TEAM: 13 11-17 40
ROCHESTER (56) (15-7, 5-3)
Kami Burkett 1 0-0 3, Rily Holloway 4 1-3 13, Kallie Watson 2 0-1 5, Lexy Thomas 9 1-3 19, Millie Scorsone 1 2-4 4, Darah Strasser 0 0-0 0, Audrey Bolinger 0 0-0 0, Ella McCarter 0 0-0 0, Rylee Clevenger 0 0-0 0, Sydney Haughs 2 0-0 5, Lilith Eaton 0 2-2 2, Savanah Eccles 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Jackson 1 3-4 5, Elizabeth Weaver 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 20 9-17 56
Three-point field goals:
Manchester 3 (Buzzard 3),
Rochester 7 (Holloway 4, Haughs, Watson, Burkett)
Total fouls: Manchester 16, Rochester 17
Turnovers: Manchester 18, Rochester 13
Score by quarters
Manchester 5 9 15 11 – 40
Rochester 19 7 13 17 – 56
JV: Rochester 46, Manchester 34
Watch Full Game Here:
Rochester girls basketball seniors Lexy Thomas, left, and Kami Burkett, right, pose for a photo with coach Brian Jennings, middle, before Saturday’s game with Manchester at the RHS gym. Thomas scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Burkett returned to the starting lineup one week after tearing her ACL in the Lady Zs’ 56-40 win. (photo provided by Dee Brown)