Boys basketball: L-P holds off Rochelle, pulls away in fourth quarter

Senior Josh Senica provides spark in final eight minutes, finishes with 27 points

La Salle-Peru senior Josh Senica

LA SALLE – After letting an 18-point halftime lead get trimmed down to four by the end of the third quarter, the La Salle-Peru boys basketball team needed a spark.

Senior Josh Senica provided it in the Cavaliers’ 73-52 win against Rochelle on Friday.

With the Cavaliers leading by five with 5:03 left, Senica scored on four straight possessions – hitting a pair of 3-pointers, scoring in the post and getting a putback – to push the lead to 13 points.

“My guy was off me, and I shot a 3,” Senica said. “He was off again, so I decided to shoot another one. Everything was starting to click, and I was feeling good. We got a little momentum for the team and got a little cushion.”

The Cavs cruised from there, and Sencia put the exclamation point on the Interstate 8 Conference win over Rochelle with a fast-break dunk in the final minute.

“I think the first half we played really well,” L-P coach John Senica said. “The second half we came out and were kind of sluggish. We kind of took our foot off the pedal, and I think we kind of settled for things, and our intensity wasn’t there. We started picking it back up in the fourth quarter.

“I think it was Josh [that sparked us]. He had a couple big buckets, big 3s for us. He started to take control. That’s what I think really started to turn it around. And we picked up the defensive intensity.”

The Cavs had a strong first quarter after the Hubs had two quick layups pushing the ball up the court after rebounds to take a 4-0 lead.

On senior night, an all-senior starting lineup got things started for the Cavs.

Seth Adams hit a pull-up jumper, Brendan Boudreau scored on back-to-back second-chance opportunities to tie it and Bobby Baldin knocked down a corner 3 for L-P’s first lead of the night at 9-8.

The Cavs led the rest of the way.

“I think we came out with a lot of intensity,” John Senica said. “It was senior night. We started a couple seniors who haven’t started yet this year. I think that gave everybody a boost. I was impressed with those guys and the way they started the game.”

L-P led 16-10 after the first quarter and pushed it to 42-24 by halftime as the Cavs scored on 11 of 15 possessions in the second quarter.

The Hubs opened the third quarter on a 14-2 run to get back into it and trailed just 48-44 going to the fourth before L-P extended the lead back out.

“We started going into more of our motion offense and getting more post touches,” Josh Senica said about how the Cavs pulled away. “We started hitting our shots and everything was coming back together. It gave us a little confidence and that was all we needed.”

Josh Senica finished with a game-high 27 points and 18 rebounds for L-P (17-7, 5-2), while Adams contributed 17 points. Eli Luxton had 21 points for Rochelle (10-18, 3-6).

“The senior group we have has been dedicated since freshman year,” John Senica said. “I’ve coached a lot of these guys since fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth grade and they put a lot of time into it. They mean a lot to the program. They’re really good leaders showing the underclassmen what it takes and that you have to put the time in.”

Along with senior night, it also was Hall of Honor night. L-P will inducted seven individuals and two teams into the hall at a ceremony Saturday. The group was recognized at halftime Friday.