The Insider: Boys Basketball

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

(Continued from Page 2)

Spartans’ Winters takes on bigger role
Jake Winters took over as Sycamore’s starting point guard at the end of November, but had a little more responsibility on his hands Friday night against Burlington Central.

With senior David Compher, one of Sycamore’s other main ballhandlers, sitting out because of an ejection in the Spartans’ previous game against Rock Falls (IHSA rules stipulate players and coaches must sit one additional game after being ejected from a game), Winters took on a bigger role in Sycamore’s 59-53 win.

The junior point guard put up 11 points, including a big corner 3-pointer with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to put Sycamore up, 49-44.

“That one was big,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. “They were making a little bit of a run and it took it from a two-point game to a five-point game. He’s capable of doing that. He has some poor shot selection at times, but he made up for it.”

Winters even walked out of the locker room with Sycamore’s team MVP belt.

“He’s not going to be a guy who goes out there and scores 20,” Stacy said. “But he can run a team and make good decisions on the floor.”

Cogs’ offense still developing

With just more than a month to go in the regular season, Genoa-Kingston coach Corey Jenkins doesn’t think his team has played up to its potential yet.

Jenkins likes how his defense is able to pressure with its guards, and said the team added some nice depth by bringing sophomore Griffin McNeal up to varsity.

Jenkins said G-K needs to step up on offense if the Cogs are to hit a stride.

“I don’t think we’ve reached our capabilities yet. We’ve pressed a little bit offensively the past couple weeks,” he said. “Once we get over that hump, and start playing the game where things come a little more smoothly, we’ll see what happens with this team.”

• Steve Nitz contributed to this report.

VIEWS: Player of Year race far from decided

Last week I wrote about five things to watch as the second half of the high school basketball season develops. This week I’ll dive a little deeper into the last of those storylines: the race for Daily Chronicle Player of the Year.

Except in the rare years where a dominant area team features a clear superstar player, the Player of the Year is always the most contested and discussed item among our staff near the end of the season.

Here’s a mid-season look at my top five (in alphabetical order) right now.

Bernie Conley, senior guard, Hinckley-Big Rock: The Daily Chronicle Boys Soccer Player of the Year is making a solid case to be the first male athlete to win the player of the year award for two different sports in a single school year.

Conley is a dual threat to score on the offensive end, possessing a nice perimeter jumper along with speed and quickness to get to the rim.

The Royals have been tested against a number of tough teams in the first half of the season, garnering wins over Genoa-Kingston and Mooseheart. H-BR looks to be the area’s best team, something that favors Conley’s candidacy if the Royals continue to consistently win games.

Jared Madden, senior guard, Hinckley-Big Rock: You can almost duplicate the above paragraphs about Conley and accurately describe Madden. Conley’s backcourt running mate carries the same kind of offensive repertoire and is one of the reasons H-BR showcases solid defense on a consistent basis.

The Royals are undefeated in the Little Ten Conference and could be looking at back-to-back conference championships.

Devin Mottet, junior wing, Sycamore: The Spartans’ leading scorer has Sycamore off to a surprisingly fast start in the wide-open Northern Illinois Big 12 East.

Mottet is Sycamore’s main threat offensively and can score in a variety of ways, including putbacks off offensive rebounds.

If the Spartans can shake their recent skid and continue to contend in the NI Big 12 East, Mottet should be a viable candidate late in the year.

Jaron Todd, senior wing, Indian Creek: Todd is one of the area’s best shooters from the outside. He provides a nice complement to Indian Creek junior center Garrison Govig, who often is the focal point of the Timberwolves’ offense.

Indian Creek hasn’t had much success outside of the Little Ten, but could still be a contender for the conference title if H-BR falters in the second half of league play.

The field: This might be the betting favorite right now because of how up-and-down most of the area’s teams have been this season, along with the lack of a truly dominant player.

Last year DeKalb’s late-season surge to a conference crown helped Brian Sisler win the award. The same could happen for the Barbs’ Andre Harris or Rudy Lopez.

Govig has put up some of the area’s best single-game stat lines this year and Genoa-Kingston freshman Tommy Lucca has come up big in a couple clutch situations for the Cogs.

It’ll certainly be interesting to watch the race develop as the playoffs inch closer.

• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at rjacobson@shawmedia.com or follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson

Spotlight on...
Adam Price, Genoa-Kingston, senior forward
Price scored a career-high 29 points, leading G-K to a comeback victory over Richmond-Burton on Friday. The win put the Cogs above .500 in the Big Northern Conference East Division.

What to watch for
Kaneland at LaSalle-Peru, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Kaneland looks to continue its hot streak and gets a nice test on the road in a crossover Northern Illinois Big 12 contest.

DeKalb at Hononegah Invitational, Saturday and Monday
The Barbs will have a couple of non-conference games to prepare for the second half of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference schedule.

Power rankings
1. Hinckley-Big Rock (14-3, 3-0 Little Ten Conference) Royals remain perfect in Little Ten with overtime win.
2. Kaneland (9-6, 4-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) Kaneland keeps conference lead with another win.
3. Sycamore (10-7, 2-2 NI Big 12 East) Spartans cure late-game woes against Burlington Central.
4. Genoa-Kingston (11-6, 3-2 Big Northern Conference East) Cogs rally past Richmond-Burton at home.
5. Indian Creek (10-7, 4-0 LTC) Snapped losing streak with dominant win against LaMoille.
6. DeKalb (4-13, 2-3 NI Big 12 East) Loss to Morris makes Barbs' path to NI Big 12 title even tougher
7. Hiawatha (3-11, 1-2 LTC) Hawks overmatched by Paw Paw at home.

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