SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Hinckley-Big Rock, sophomore, guard
The speedy point guard scored 17 points and had three second-quarter steals against Hiawatha to help the Royals jump out to a 23-1 lead in a 63-18 win.
Madden would have been an integral piece for the Royals last season, but a stress fracture limited her to the first four games of the season and the playoffs. Now, she’s one of the most crucial players on a relatively young team.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
DeKalb at Kaneland, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Kaneland will be looking to avenge a 31-17 loss to its conference rival. DeKalb will look to stay undefeated in Northern Illinois Big 12 East play.
Holiday Tournaments this weekend
Sycamore will be going to Harlem, while Genoa-Kingston finishes up the Pecatonica Tournament.
1. DeKalb (10-1, 3-0 NI Big 12 East): The Barbs beat Kaneland, 31-18, in a defensive battle after suffering their first loss to Whitney Young.
2. Kaneland (7-2, 2-1 NI Big 12 East): The Knights hung with DeKalb for most of Tuesday’s tough loss.
3. Sycamore (4-5, 0-3 NI Big 12 East): The young Spartans lost in overtime to Kaneland last week but were impressive taking one of the conference’s top teams to the wire.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (6-5, 4-0 Little Ten): The Royals have had a great start to the conference season.
5. Indian Creek (4-8, 2-3 LTC): Kate Thuestad led a dominating win over Leland-Earlville.
6. Hiawatha (4-6, 1-2 LTC): Two top players had the flu in a huge loss to H-BR.
7. Genoa-Kingston (2-11, 0-3 Big Northern East): Coach Kyle Henkel is working on changing G-K’s culture.
NOTES: DeKalb takes lesson from loss
Before DeKalb beat Kaneland, 31-17, on Tuesday, the Barbs on Saturday suffered their first game of the season to Whitney Young, last season’s undefeated Class 4A state champion, 65-33.
The Barbs benefited from playing a level of competition that will be unparalleled throughout the conference season.
“There was a lot of stuff that we needed to work on because they were really strong in defense,” freshman Brittney Patrick said. “We just needed to get better from that and keep moving on.”
The Barbs know if they want to advance past last season’s Class 4A super-sectional appearance, they’ll have to learn to compete with teams of Whitney Young’s caliber.
“We tried to take something positive from that and keep building on the next game and just get better,” senior Courtney Patrick said.
Knights strong defensively in loss to Barbs
Kaneland only scored 17 points against DeKalb on Tuesday, but the score was close for almost the entire game in the Knights’ first loss of the season. Even in defeat, the Knights showed they’re a team to be reckoned with in conference play.
“[DeKalb] is a great team, and we’re trying to get to their level,” Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. “Hopefully we’re closing the gap. I thought they played great defense. I thought we played pretty well on defense, but we’ve got to hit some more shots.”
H-BR better in conference
The nonconference season has been a rough go for Hinckley-Big Rock. A fluky last-second shot felled them at Stillman Valley after a loss to Byron, and the Royals are 2-5 away from the LTC.
The conference season has been a different story. The Royals have shown they still are the class of the LTC by winning their first three games.
“We just execute everything a little better than we did a few weeks ago,” H-BR coach Greg Burks said. “It starts with good guard play. We’ve got good quickness at the guard spot.”
Part of the Royals’ success early in the conference season has come because of balanced scoring from their starters. Monday’s win against Hiawatha was Jacqueline Madden’s turn to lead the Barbs with 17 points.
“If they stop one person, another person is going to score and step up,” senior Lauren Paver said.
VIEWS: Early season routs might not be repeated
The scores were lopsided.
Hinckley-Big Rock beat Hiawatha, 63-18, on Monday, and DeKalb beat Kaneland, 31-17, on Tuesday.
But there is less disparity between the teams than those scores show, and DeKalb and H-BR need to be wary that, in the future, games against these opponents may not be quite as easy.
Hiawatha was limited because Dani Clark and Ashley Tamraz, who might be the two most important players for the Hawks, both had the flu. Both begged coach Franz Schumacher to let them play, but neither was her normal self, allowing the Royals to coast to an easy win.
When the Royals play the Hawks later in the season, things will be different.
While the H-BR/Hiawatha game was lopsided from the start, Kaneland hung with DeKalb for most of Tuesday’s game. The score was 5-2 in an offensively challenged first quarter. The Barbs kept a small lead throughout, but it was always close until strong play from freshman point guard Brittney Patrick allowed them to pull away in the final minutes.
The teams, though, match up again next week, and previously undefeated Kaneland is better offensively than it showed Tuesday.
While early season success is great, each team has to be careful not to get too carried away with success it has had and realize that a greater challenge is yet to come, even if it is playing the same team.
• Anthony Zilis is a contributor for the Daily Chronicle. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.