Boys basketball: Rochelle pressure, tempo end Woodstock’s season 73-56

Hubs advance to Friday’s regional title game

Woodstock’s Trent Butler drives at Rochelle’s Carson Lewis during Wednesday’s IHSA 3A regional semifinal at Rockford Boylan.

ROCKFORD – Rochelle’s full-court press and aggressive man-to-man defense prevented the Woodstock Blue Streaks from finding much offensive rhythm during Wednesday evening’s Class 3A Boylan Regional semifinal between the No. 3 and No. 5 seeds.

The third-seeded Blue Streaks entered the postseason on a seven-game winning streak, but Woodstock fell behind early and was unable to keep pace with the fifth-seeded Hubs, who arrived at Boylan on a six-game losing streak. Max Beard led the Blue Streaks with 16 points, while Sam Chapman and Trent Butler each added 13 as Woodstock’s season ended with a 73-56 loss to Rochelle.

The Blue Streaks (20-11) struggled against the full-court pressure early, falling behind 19-12 after the opening quarter.

“We knew the pace was going to be high,” Woodstock coach Ryan Starnes said. “We were ready for that, and we expected that. I thought that we scouted them well, but we struggled with some of the basics of our scouting report and taking away their strengths. We talked a lot about rebounding being important, and they beat us up pretty good. When we had a good defensive possession, they seemed to get the offensive rebounds, and it trickled down from there.”

Although the Hubs (11-21) made only three 3-pointers in the game, they excelled with pushing the pace and beating Woodstock down the floor for layups and close shots around the rim. The Hubs also capitalized on turnovers by the Blue Streaks, which allowed Rochelle to command a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter. A buzzer-beating 3 from Woodstock’s Anthony Grzetic made the score 39-32 at halftime.

“It’s hard to simulate that kind of press, and it usually takes a few minutes to get your bearings and understand how fast they play,” Starnes said. “I thought we slowed our minds down a little after those first couple of minutes and we were able to get into some of our offense, but they hit us pretty hard early on, and that’s a credit to them.

“I’m so proud of our seniors. They gave everything they had for four years. They were also great role models for our juniors.”

A pair of third-quarter 3s from Chapman helped Woodstock remain within striking distance. The Blue Streaks remained behind 52-44 entering the fourth quarter, where turnovers and missed shots enabled the Hubs to balloon their lead back into double figures.

Rochelle received a strong close-out effort from guard Elijah Harley, who led all players with 20 points and scored 10 in the final quarter to help the Hubs advance to the regional championship game, where Rochelle will take on the second-seeded Freeport Pretzels at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Our seniors showed up on time and they competed every day,” Starnes said. “Those are the lessons that our kids who are coming back need to take from these senior players.”

Spencer Cullum totaled 11 points, and Grzetic chipped in three points to round out the scoring for the Blue Streaks.

Woodstock’s Anthony Grzetic (23) avoids the outstretched hand of Rochelle’s Elijah Harley during Wednesday’s 3A regional semifinal at Rockford Boylan.