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Barbs progressing while winning

(Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
DeKalb sophomore Madelyne Johnson puts up a shot between Naperville North defenders Chloe O’Dekirk (left) and Lauren LoLordo in the first quarter of DeKalb’s 49-30 victory over Naperville North in the Lady War Hawk Thanksgiving Tournament Friday at West Aurora High School.

AURORA – It was easy to see the glimpses of what the DeKalb girls basketball team can be at the end of the season in the Barbs’ 49-30 victory over Naperville North in the Warhawk Tournament on Friday morning.

There was the 15-0 spurt midway through the first half, buoyed by an offense with multiple threats. There were the back-to-back layups for sophomore Madelyne Johnson, each time coming on the other end of a nifty pass from senior Rachel Torres.

And unsurprisingly, the Barbs’ trademark defense was in full effect, holding Naperville North to only eight field goals and 23 percent shooting from the field.

But with a young team featuring two underclassmen in the starting lineup, there still are areas for improvement, DeKalb’s first-year coach Chris Davenport said.

“It’s progression,” Davenport said. “We talk every day about getting better every day, whether it’s practice or a game. It’s going to take a little time.”

Davenport takes over for coach Ben Bates after DeKalb advanced to the Class 4A Elgin Super-Sectional last year, winning the program’s first sectional championship since 2006. He was an assistant coach on last season’s team and has worked at the high school for nine years, making the transition much smoother than most coaching changes.

“He was on the bench last year, he was around last year, so we already knew what he was like,” Torres said. “It’s a lot easier because he was with us over the summer. It’s been easy for me.”

One of the bigger adjustments for the Barbs (4-0) will be Davenport’s new offense. The more up-tempo style suits DeKalb’s athletic roster, but the Barbs turned the ball over 20 times Friday.

“We’re not as structured,” Davenport said. “We also spread the floor and it’s more freelance, read-and-react type stuff ... because I have some very good athletes.”

Yet it was evident that DeKalb won’t miss a beat defensively in its man-to-man defense, even with two new starters.

Davenport said this team is physically stronger than last year’s squad, having lifted weights over the summer and fall sessions.

The Barbs forced 21 turnovers and contested shots consistently. Freshman point guard Brittney Patrick had consecutive steals resulting in layups near the end of the fourth quarter, and Davenport called her “a freak athlete.”

“We work a lot on our defense,” senior guard Courtney Patrick said. “The first week of practice it was defense, defense, defense.”

Johnson led the Barbs with 14 points while Brittney Patrick had 11. Torres added 10 in the victory.

There’s a ways to go for a DeKalb team that has state tournament aspirations this season. But winning while learning isn’t the worst way to start off the season.

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