For the fourth time in four years, Genoa-Kingston was forced to adjust to a new coach with Kyle Henkel at the helm this season.
The Cogs had a rough start adjusting to a new system, but they’ve made progress. The Cogs are now playing opponents close, like they did in their 40-37 overtime loss Tuesday to Rockford Christian.
“I thought we played well throughout the whole game,” Henkel said. “We’re finally starting to compete in more games than we did at the start of the year. It’s kind of a breath of fresh air for us.” The next step for G-K is to learn to close out those tight games.
“We just had mental mistakes down the stretch because of the way our season started,” Henkel said. “We weren’t used to being in close games, so we’re still learning how to handle ourselves in those situations.”
Aase returns strong: Sycamore freshman Kayley Aase was out for three months with an ankle injury, but the 6-footer scored 12 points in her first game back Friday for the Spartans against Morris.
“It was tough coming back in after three months, but it got better,” Aase said. “For being off that long, I feel like I did pretty well.”
Aase will combine with fellow freshman forward Taiya Hopkins, who has succeeded on varsity in Aase’s stead, to make the Spartans a tough team inside for years to come.
“She’s a nice target for us inside and she knows how to finish,” Sycamore coach Brett Goff said. “She gets rebounds for us, which we desperately need at times because we’re so undersized.”
VIEWS: Barbs to benefit from tough nonconference schedule
Former DeKalb coach Ben Bates knew he had to schedule tough nonconference games if he wanted his team to be a state contender.
DeKalb is in a different class than their NI Big 12 foes, both literally and figuratively.
As coach of the only Class 4A team in the conference, Bates scheduled games against some of the best teams in the state, including defending Class 4A champion Whitney Young and defending Class 3A champion Montini.
“We’re a 4A school in a 3A conference, so we have to play as many 4A teams as we can,” current coach Chris Davenport said. “That’s important. It’s nothing against any team in our conference.”
Both games were losses, but it doesn’t matter.
Davenport and the Barbs clearly see themselves as a state contender. They aspire to make it back to the super-sectional, and maybe even make it further.
DeKalb is the best team in the area. A few years down the road, they may have a tough competitor in Sycamore, but right now, they reign supreme in DeKalb County and the NI Big 12.
But the Barbs aspire to be one of the best teams in Illinois. The only way they’ll get there is by testing themselves against the best.
Win or lose, Davenport will have no regrets about his team’s schedule this year.
Anthony Zilis is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Bria Foley, Genoa-Kingston, junior, guard
Foley missed the entire 2011-12 season after tearing her ACL, and she wasn’t cleared to play until the end of the summer.
The junior has been slowly working her way back into form, and she’s become a big part of a G-K team that is slowly becoming competitive. Foley led the Cogs with 11 points in Tuesday’s 40-37 overtime loss to Rockford Christian.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Rochelle at Sycamore, 7 p.m., Tuesday Sycamore can show just how much they’ve improved this season after losing to Rochelle early in conference play.
Indian Creek, Hiawatha and Hinckley-Big Rock at the Little Ten Conference Tournament, Monday through Friday at Serena All three schools will head to the annual midseason conference tournament.
1. DeKalb (16-3, 5-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) The Barbs beat Rochelle on Friday before losing to defending Class 3A champs Montini in overtime Saturday.
2. Kaneland (11-6, 3-3 NI Big 12 East) Kaneland had a big win Wednesday in overtime against Rochelle in NI Big 12 action.
3. Sycamore (6-7, 1-3 NI Big 12 East) The Spartans won their first conference game with a decisive win Friday over Morris.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (10-10, 5-2 Little Ten Conference) The Royals kept up their strong LTC run with a win Monday against LaMoille.
5. Hiawatha (7-12, 1-4 LTC) The Hawks lost to Harvard, 39-32, on Tuesday.
6. Indian Creek (9-10, 3-3 LTC) The Timberwolves had a big win Tuesday over Mooseheart.
7. Genoa-Kingston (2-16, 0-3 Big Northern Conference East) The Cogs have been competitive as of late.