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Basketball

Boys basketball: Gagnepain, McConkey combine for 45 as Sycamore bests Rochelle

Gagnepain, McConkey combine for 45 points

Lukas Overhaug (10) looks in to teammate Xavier Gagnepain in the post as Austin Brown (31) guards the ball.
Lukas Overhaug (10) looks in to teammate Xavier Gagnepain in the post as Austin Brown (31) guards the ball.

SYCAMORE — Faced with a similar situation to what they faced in a Friday loss, Sycamore responded with offensive execution and defensive stops to end its home Strombom Tournament with a 67-51 win over Rochelle.

Grant McConkey led all scorers with 23 points and contributed five assists, while Xavier Gagnepain posted a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead Sycamore (2-2)

"I think everyone realized that we weren't trying to go into our day break and go into next week going 1-3," Gagnepain said. "We at least wanted to finish with a .500 record. We just needed to step up and make big plays and that's what the team did."

The Hubs (1-3) had pulled within three points late in the third quarter, but McConkey went on his own 6-0 run to stretch the lead back to seven, and the Spartans finished the quarter up six. Jackson Johnson drove and pulled up for a short jumper in the lane to put Sycamore up 51-45 heading into the fourth.

Lukas Overhaug assisted to Gagnepain for an easy bucket for the first Spartans points of the fourth quarter, then Matthew Reuscher added a free throw and Overhaug put in a layup as Sycamore's lead ballooned to 11, 56-45.

“He’s (Gagnepain) a gamer, just wants to go out rebound, block shots and finish around the basket," Sycamore coach Drew Stacy said. "Glad he’s on our side, because he makes the game look easy at times.”

McConkey then had a hand in Sycamore's next 10 points, scoring six unanswered points by himself and assisting two Gagnepain layups.

“I thought it would take a couple weeks to at least get used to, because I was playing varsity summer but not everybody was there in the summer," Gagnepain said. "In the summer I wasn’t doing near as well as I’m doing now. I think it was just I had to step up because some players were out early.”

The Spartans came out of the gates hot, scoring 21 points for a 12-point lead after a quarter. Gagnepain spurred the run on the boards, finding teammates for open for easy buckets around the rim, and scoring when given the chance.

“Grant’s the best athlete on the floor almost every time he steps on the floor," Rochelle coach Tim Thompson said. "We had a hard time containing him. Xavier was fantastic in the block area the whole night.”

The Hubs couldn't get going from beyond the 3-point arc as the offense stalled late.

“Brown, (Landen) Martin, (Seth) Gould and (Garrett) Burdin all played tons of varsity minutes last year and they’ve just got to continue to get better," Thompson said.

By the numbers: Sycamore's Lukas Overhaug had nine points and five rebounds. Jackson Johnson had six rebounds and two blocked shots. Austin Brown led the Hubs with 14 points, but endured foul trouble. Landen Martin added 10 points for the Hubs, Seth Gould had nine and Zack Sanford added eight.

Beyond the stats: Sycamore's Hunter Alexander's defensive pressure in the fourth quarter forced several sloppy Hubs possessions that led to buckets for the Spartans as they stretched their lead in the fourth quarter.

They said it: “He’s Alexander) a really smart player," Stacy said. "He’ll get in a passing lane and it might not end up in a steal for him, but he’ll get in there enough and a guy will force a travel because the guys’ not open or force a pass that gets tipped out of bounds, pushing people farther away from the basket. He’s really real smart at denying a good shooter the basketball.”

Up next: Sycamore hosts Rock Falls Tuesday.

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