Ashley Tamraz, Hiawatha, senior guard
Tamraz and teammate Dani Clark are back after having the flu last week, and the senior scored 11 points and hit two big free throws to give the Hawks a 32-31 win over Christian Liberty on Monday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR...
DeKalb at Naperville North / Benet Tournament, today
DeKalb advanced to the championship bracket by sweeping pool play last week.
Kaneland at Ottawa Tournament, today and Saturday
The Knights will try to rebound from a rough few weeks, when they picked up their first four losses.
1. DeKalb (14-1, 4-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) – Another win over Kaneland shows the Barbs are the dominant team in the area and won't give up this spot any time soon.
2. Kaneland (8-4, 2-2 NI Big 12 East) – The Knights had a tough week, losing their second game to DeKalb after losing twice at the Ottawa Tournament.
3. Sycamore (5-6, 0-3 NI Big 12 East) – The Spartans had a successful run in the Harlem Tournament before falling in the championship game.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (6-5, 4-0 Little Ten Conference) – The Royals are off to a hot start in conference play.
5. Hiawatha (6-7, 1-2 LTC) – The Hawks are back to being healthy and have won two straight games.
6. Indian Creek (4-8, 2-3 LTC) – The Timberwolves have progressed this season, but had a tough loss to H-BR last week.
7. Genoa-Kingston (2-12, 0-3 Big Northern Conference East) – Cogs lost in overtime to Rockford Christian Life on Monday.
Kate Thuestad is back after a season off, and she's formed a tough tandem in the post with Samantha Mosley.
The pair will only get better. Thuestad is still working her way back into form after electing to concentrate on volleyball last winter.
“She's starting to shoot better,” coach Paul Muchmore said. “Her offense took awhile to get going, but she's such a hard worker that it's starting to come around … She's a really good defender, she's really strong at rebounding, and she gives us another person who can handle the ball.”
Mosley had a concussion that kept her out for a week, but she's working her way back and could make the T-Wolves a tough team to beat in the Little Ten Conference down the stretch.
“She started out really well,” Muchmore said. “She's huge for us, she can run the floor … She's been doing a really nice job of scoring in transition.”
Hawks healthy again and playing well
Hiawatha is back.
The Hawks struggled when Ashley Tamraz and Dani Clark had the flu, culminating in a 63-18 loss to Hinckley-Big Rock. But Tamraz and Clark are back in the fold, and the Hawks are back to playing solid basketball, beating Christian Liberty and Harvest Christian.
“We're starting to get back with everyone feeling better,” Hiawatha coach Franz Schumacher. “Our defense has really picked up. We've worked on our press a little bit, and that's been kind of nice … I've been happy with that.”
Hiawatha will get another shot at H-BR next weekend in the Prophetstown Tournament.
“We're pretty excited,” Schumacher said. “We're feeling pretty good. We plan on competing.”
The Northern Illinois Big 12 has some catching up to do.
With two dominant defensive performances in wins over previously undefeated Kaneland in the last two weeks, DeKalb moved to 4-0 in the conference. Their slow and deliberate style doesn't make for high-flying, exciting games, but it's proved to be extremely effective.
With size inside, strong guard play and lots of youth, the Barbs may go undefeated this conference season and will be tough to beat for years to come.
But that doesn't take away the fact that the Knights have plenty of talent, and playing a top team in Class 4A should prove beneficial down the stretch. When they hit the Class 3A playoffs, they'll only be better after their losses to the Barbs, when they defended well but were forced to look at their flaws.
As for Sycamore, it'll be very difficult for them to compete against DeKalb this year. But for a young, talented group of Spartans, playing against such a good team will help players like sophomore Bailey Gilbert, freshman Lauren Goff and sophomore Paige Wogen among others. The Spartans may be able to compete with DeKalb in future seasons.
Sycamore and Kaneland may not measure up with the Barbs during the 2012-13 season, but playing against the best team in the area will help them beat the best down the road.