Girls basketball: Plano ends season with Class 3A regional quarterfinal loss to Rochelle

Plano’s Josie Larson looks to drive around Rochelle’s Sydney Tabor during a Class 3A Rochelle Regional quarterfinal, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

ROCHELLE – Plano saw its season come to a close during its IHSA Class 3A regional quarterfinal contest against Rochelle on Saturday evening.

Although a 9-0 run early in the second quarter allowed Plano to hold a brief lead, the No. 8 seeded Reapers largely struggled against the ball pressure and three-quarter-court press of the No. 6 seeded Hubs. Rochelle successfully contained standout Plano guard Josie Larson and controlled the second half to hand the Reapers a season-ending 52-33 loss. The Hubs will advance to take on No. 2 seed Rockford Boylan in the semifinals on Monday night.

“I thought the way the game played out was similar to the way our whole season played out,” Plano head coach Tristan Spivey said. “We competed really hard and there were moments where we looked really good and we were hitting shots, but there were also moments where we were throwing the ball around everywhere. We had a lot of unforced errors tonight and it felt at times like we were throwing the game away. Rochelle was in our face the whole game.”

Rochelle (13-17) smothered Plano (15-17) in the first quarter, limiting the Reapers to only four points on two made field goals. While the Hubs were without leading scorer Alivia Henkel, Rochelle received double-digit scoring contributions from three different players on Saturday. Senior guard Kara Martinez led all players with 16 points, while sophomore guard Jaydin Dickey and junior forward Kendyl Darby each had 11.

An aggressive Larson brought the Reapers back during the second quarter, with the senior guard converting a pair of close-range shots while sinking a pair of free throws. Junior forward Nylah Mathews drained two 3-pointers for the Plano offense, hitting her first during the second quarter to help the Reapers stay within striking distance. Plano remained behind after three quarters, with Rochelle holding a 35-28 advantage after sinking seven third-quarter free throws.

But crucial turnovers and missed shots doomed the Reapers in the fourth and final quarter, where the Hubs outscored Plano 17-5 to clinch their regional quarterfinal victory. Larson, who recently eclipsed 1,000 career points for the Reapers, overcame a late injury and finished with a team-best 13 points to lead Plano in the loss. Mathews and sophomore guard Jadyn Long each tallied six points, while Irene Isitt and Luniah Gilford each scored four points.

“I’ve said all season that our issues have been our turnovers, our ball handling and staying poised,” Spivey said. “Those issues are really hard to correct during the season, so I think those are issues that we can nail down and figure out during the spring and during summer ball. This year was a success because the bonds our girls created were amazing and they stuck together for the whole year. I think those things are going to motivate our girls in the spring and summer.”