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Sycamore takes step forward in win

SYCAMORE – Even though his team is young, Sycamore coach Brett Goff knows they’re talented and can achieve success right now.

That’s part of what made Friday’s loss to Rochelle so frustrating – had the Spartans simply boxed out and shot better from the free-throw line, he knows they could have won.

Sycamore, though, took a step toward achieving that potential in a 62-39 win over Streator on Tuesday.

“[Boxing out and rebounding] are the two things we worked on in practice, and I think they did that today,” Goff said. “We just came out and executed our offense, and we did well on defense in spurts.”

Sycamore freshmen and sophomores scored 53 of the team’s 62 points in the rout, and the scoring started early.

The Spartans began the game with an 18-2 run, and their lead never dipped below 13 after that point.

By the end of the first quarter, the score was 20-5.

By the end of the second, the Spartans led 40-15 thanks to 11 points from sophomore Bailey Gilbert, who led the Spartans with 17 points, and seven from sophomore Paige Wogen.

The Bulldogs outscored the Spartans in the second half, 24-22.

“We definitely improved a lot from last game,” Gilbert said. “We got out and ran our offense after rebounds and boxed out.”

On Tuesday, the Spartans became even more youthful when Goff called freshman Taiya Hopkins up to varsity. And it doesn’t look as if she’ll be going back down any time soon after an 11-point, five-rebound performance.

Gilbert knows that youth can hamper the Spartans at times, but she also knows they can overcome the difficulties that come with inexperience.

“I think we have to work more as a team when we’re younger, and I think that pays off in the long run,” Gilbert said. “We have to do things as a team instead of having a few really good people.”

The fundamentals have improved early in the season, but Goff knows his team still needs to be more confident and assertive. While this team figures to be a conference contender down the road, he thinks if his young team learns the ins and outs of varsity basketball, it success could come sooner.

“I think we can be a good team this year. I don’t know if the girls believe that or not,” Goff said. “Tonight, we weren’t as aggressive as we need to be, but we’ll get there.”

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