DeKALB – The DeKalb boys basketball team lost, 72-65, to Harlem on Saturday in the Chuck Dayton Holiday Tournament, but coach Dave Rohlman wasn't overly concerned with the final score.
Throughout his team's 1-9 start, Rohlman pleaded with his players to work hard and do the little things it takes to win. On Saturday, when the Barbs led with 1:25 remaining, he saw almost everything he wanted to see.
“We've asked them for 10 games to play harder,” Rohlman said. “We talked about what winners have to do, and I think they did everything we asked them to do and we played like winners tonight. Unfortunately, they don't get the win.”
After losing, 81-53, last night to Winnebago, when they committed 27 turnovers, the Barbs came out strong and led, 33-32, at the half.
DeKalb (1-10) built up a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter before the Huskies (5-5) came back behind seven quick points from senior Justin Vanwambeke, who scored a game-high 24 points.
The Barbs led, 65-64, with 1:25 left, when 6-foot-7 center Andre Harris, who scored a team-high 17 points, fouled out after lowering his shoulder into a screener in the backcourt.
After Harlem made two free throws, DeKalb committed three turnovers and wouldn't score again with their big man out.
“We were playing well, everyone was talking, there was some energy on our team, but it was just a tough one coming down the stretch,” said forward Jake Carpenter, who scored 14 points. “We missed a couple of shots, and a couple of turnovers killed us. It just didn't go our way.”
Rohlman didn't want the Barbs to hang their heads, and they didn't.
After listening to a short talk from their head coach, the Barbs came out of the locker room with a positive outlook.
“It's been difficult throughout the season. We've had some ups and downs, some difficulties,” Harris said. “[Saturday] was a big difference. Today, we played as a team. We worked hard all fourth quarters. It just didn't go our way at the end.”
On Friday, the Barbs didn't handle the ball well, they didn't play well against Winnebago's press and they let the game get away from them.
None of those faults were present on Saturday.
“I'm blown away, to be honest, by our transformation tonight from last night,” Rohlman said. “How we played together, how other guys stepped up … I think what we do is we build on what we did tonight.”