Girls basketball: Rock Falls tops Genoa-Kingston in defensive slugfest

Rock Falls' Claire Bickett has the ball tipped away by Genoa-Kingston's Regan Creadon (right) during their game Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, at Genoa-Kingston High School.

GENOA – With the postseason fast approaching, Rock Falls senior forward Claire Bickett said the Rockets’ defensive performance in a 35-30 Big Northern Conference win over Genoa-Kingston on Friday couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Anything can happen this time of year,” Bickett said. “You want to kind of lock in defensively because everyone says defense wins championships. So that’s what we need to focus on.”

The Rockets (9-21, 3-5 BNC) held the Cogs (9-15, 1-5) to 13 second-half points, with 10 points coming in a two-minute stretch in the third and fourth quarters.

Freshman Presley Meyer sparked that run, hitting a couple of 3-pointers to narrow the Rock Falls lead to 28-25 at the end of the third. She opened the fourth with a layup after Ally Poegel got a steal and fed the ball ahead to her, drawing the Cogs back to within one.

“[Meyer is] our motor,” G-K coach Brendan Royalty said. “When she gets going, it’s fun to watch. She gives it her all every night, night in and night out. When she’s making shots she gets really into it and it’s fun to watch her play.”

Presley, a 5-foot-5 freshman guard, also had a game-best nine rebounds with her team-best 10 points. But after her explosion, the Cogs would manage one field goal over the last 7:41 of the game.

Rock Falls scored five straight to push the lead to 33-27, capped by Bickett’s first 3-pointer on her way to a game-best 15 points.

“For our team to be able to take that punch and answer back was huge,” Rockets coach Dan Herrera said. “We have some senior leadership, and they did an exceptional job tonight. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Sydney Hansen sank a 3-pointer for the Cogs, cutting the Rockets lead down to 33-30 with 5:15 left. But neither team would score again until Denali Stonitsch sank a free throw to push the lead back to four with 34 seconds left.

Neither team led by more than three in the first quarter. But Rock Falls scored the first six points of the second quarter, four by Bickett, to take a 17-9 lead. But the Cogs rolled off eight straight, including four by freshman Arielle Rich off the bench, to knot the score.

The teams kept trading runs, with Rock Falls ripping off 11 straight in the second and third quarters for a 28-17 lead, then the Cogs’ final 10-point run that took only 2:11 of game time.

While the Cogs don’t have a senior on their roster, the Rockets have four in their starting lineup. Herrera said that leadership was key.

“We answered their runs and we got stops when we needed them,” Herrera said. “They had some big runs there, and we were forced to make those stops or else the momentum could change. Thankfully we kind of controlled the defense a little bit there and got some really good offensive possessions as well.”

Taylor Reyna had five points and eight rebounds for the Rockets. Elizabeth Lombardo scored eight.

G-K was without Lizzie Davis, a 5-10 sophomore who hurt her leg against Plano on Wednesday. Without Davis and going against a Rock Falls team with the 5-11 BIckett, 5-9 Reyna and 5-11 Nicolette Udell in the starting lineup, Royalty switched the Cogs to a zone for the first time.

“We practiced the zone one day, and that was our first time playing zone all year,” Royalty said. “So I think it was successful. We just have to build and grow from it. ... Last 2 1/2 quarters we gave up 16 points, so no complaints there.”

Ally Poegel had seven points and five rebounds for the Cogs, who shot 12 of 46 from the floor.

“We moved the ball, we got some good shots but they just weren’t falling tonight,” Royalty said. “We’ll learn from it, move forward.”


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