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Big first quarter propels Barbs to victory

DeKALB – DeKalb girls basketball coach Chris Davenport wants to make it clear that he’s not a psychologist. He’s been trying to get his players to shoot with greater confidence throughout the season, but he can’t analyze their thinking in great detail.

What he can do is make them shoot, and he can make them shoot some more, which he did throughout the Barbs’ nine-day break that ended Tuesday. The Barbs played shooting games, they did conditioning drills combined with shooting drills, and they mixed in shooting to other types of drills.

Admittedly, Davenport also mixed in a little psychology.

“It’s just constant re-assurance that I have confidence in them,” Davenport said. “That’s about the best I can do as far as getting in their head.”

The Barbs shot with confidence early in their 43-17 win over Morris on Thursday.

DeKalb (18-3, 7-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) made six of nine first-quarter shots on their way to a 20-2 lead, with every player but one seeing time.

“We normally play down to the level of our competition,” said sophomore Madelyne Johnson, who led the Barbs with 11 points. “Coming out in the first quarter so strong, we know we’re going to be that way the whole game, and that’s just what we did.”

The going became a little tougher in the second quarter, when the Barbs outscored the Redskins, (4-15, 0-7 NI Big 12 East) 4-0, but DeKalb coasted in the second half.

The Barbs know they’re an elite defensive team. While that can always improve, they realize pushing their offensive output is the next step in the process of making themselves into a state contender.

“To improve our confidence, we need to shoot more in practice, which coach has been doing,” Johnson said. “I feel like that’s the only way we’re going to be able to do it.”

While their defense has carried them, they know their offensive production has to improve.

“We know that we’re a pretty solid defensive team,” junior Courtney Bemis said, “so we just want to shift more of our focus to the offensive end, where we’re struggling more.”

DeKalb sits in the drivers’ seat in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East with an undefeated record after beating second-place Yorkville on Tuesday.

But the Barbs have bigger goals.

“We need to get better, I know that,” Johnson said. “Our long-term goal is to get to state. We just need to push hard every day and get our confidence.”

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