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DeKALB – A lot of the faces and names have changed, but DeKalb was looking forward to Saturday night.
The Barbs met up with old friends and partners in history in Milwaukee Madison High School for a non-conference contest on Saturday, a game the Barbs won easily, 59-40.
One year ago, the two teams met in Milwaukee and the game drew national attention when DeKalb guard Darius McNeal purposely missed two free throws after a technical foul was assessed to Milwaukee guard Johntell Franklin.
Franklin’s mother died earlier that day and Franklin, who wasn’t expected to be at the game, wasn’t in the official scorer’s book, so he was given a technical foul when he entered the game. In an act of sportsmanship, McNeal missed the resulting two free throws, shooting the ball very short of the rim both times.
McNeal and Franklin have since graduated and Madison coach Aaron Womack no longer works at the school. But that didn't stop the Barbs and Knights from engaging in their traditional postgame pizza, conversations and fellowship.
"It's nice to see those guys again, especially with everything as crazy as it was last February after our game and how everything broke so it's good to see these guys," DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman said.
DeKalb (19-6) guard Pat Rourke was reminded of last year as soon as he saw Madison (2-13) take the floor.
"It just brings back a lot of memories from last year with all of the free throw stuff," Rourke said. "That's cool. But when it comes down to it, it's just another game."
The Barbs were coming off an emotional victory over Geneva on a buzzer-beater on Friday night and less than 24 hours later had to find a way to keep up some level of emotion for Saturday's game.
"It's a little emotionally draining going through a tough game like that [Friday] and then come to another tough game," Rourke said. "We had no scouting report on them because they're hours away.
"My heart didn't stop pounding until like 10:30 [Friday] night. I'm not even joking, that was crazy."
Rourke wasn't the only one who felt that way.
"I was up early this morning," Rohlman said. "Some of the kids talked about that. They couldn't sleep last night and they wanted to get back at it and get this game underway."
The Barbs handled it well, taking an early 18-5 lead after the first quarter and not looking back. DeKalb utilized an inside-outside game with Jordan Threloff (21 points) leading the way. Four DeKalb players combined to hit five three-pointers and the Barbs got to play their entire bench.
Craig Lane scored six points, Anthony Baker added five and Tyrel Williams and Brandon Banks added two apiece.
"We've got to get those guys some playing time because they deserve it," Rohlman said. "They've worked very hard in practice. They come every day and don't complain and we want to get them playing time and I was happy we could do that tonight."