IC struggles after winter break Indian Creek held a 9-1 record in the middle of December, but the Timberwolves have struggled to get many wins since winter break.
That doesn’t concern Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz, who was impressed with his team’s effort in a 64-60 loss at Little Ten Conference rival Hinckley-Big Rock. The loss was Indian Creek’s first in conference, dropping them into a tie for second place with Newark.
“We’ll be all right,” Piekarz said. “You can look at our losses and say, ‘Oh you know our record,’ but we’re going to fine ... as long as we complete like that.”
An important player down the stretch for Indian Creek will be forward Jake Bjorneby, who can provide the Timberwolves with another post presence to complement Garrison Govig.
Bjorneby led Indian Creek with 16 points and was a big reason the Timberwolves were able to hang in against the Royals in the second half.
Depth helping Kaneland
The Knights have been one of the area’s hottest teams since a poor start left Kaneland in an early hole in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.
Kaneland is 5-0 in 2013 and that comes immediately after a fourth-place finish at the Plano Christmas Classic.
Although the Knights can have trouble getting points at times – as shown in a 34-32 win over LaSalle-Peru on Saturday – Mat Limbrunner and John Pruett have given Kaneland two solid scoring options.
VIEWS: Royals could be on path to state berth
I’ve watched Hinckley-Big Rock play twice this season, in arguably the Royals’ two most important games of the year.
Everybody remembers the game against Mooseheart in early December. On the heels of a judge’s decision to allow three of Mooseheart’s Sudanese players to temporarily compete in a couple games before another IHSA ruling, H-BR put aside the distractions and came away with a 58-51 comeback victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
Although there were a few empty seats at Hinckley’s gym for the their Little Ten Conference game against Indian Creek last week, the Royals’ 64-60 win was equally important.
H-BR led by double digits in the third quarter before seeing the lead slip to four late in the fourth quarter. Yet the Royals held on with a few key defensive stops and clutch free-throw shooting during the final minute.
H-BR has yet to lose to a Class 1A school this season with their only defeats coming to Aurora Christian (2A), Seneca (2A) and Kaneland (3A). H-BR even avenged its early-season loss to Seneca with a 17-point win against the Fighting Irish at the Plano Christmas Classic.
They have been battle-tested to the point where the win over Indian Creek didn’t result in a big celebration.
The road to a sectional championship and possible berth in the state finals won’t be easy for H-BR. The Royals will likely have to face Mooseheart in the regional round while Chicago Hope Academy, which knocked H-BR out of last year’s playoffs in the sectional semifinals, is a possible sectional opponent again.
But the early results look good for H-BR and the school’s first trip to the state finals since 1984 might be in order.
• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.
Michael Bayler, Hinckley-Big Rock, senior forward
Bayler had 15 points in the Royals' win over Indian Creek last week. His offensive rebound off a missed free throw helped seal the victory with under a minute to play.
What to watch for
North Boone at Genoa-Kingston, 7 p.m., Friday
G-K looks to continue its strong season with another win over Big Northern Conference foe North Boone.
Sycamore vs. DeKalb, 8 p.m. Friday The Spartans will try to end an 11-game losing streak against their rivals.
1. Hinckley-Big Rock (16-3, 4-0 Little Ten Conference) Royals remained undefeated in conference with big win over Indian Creek. 2. Kaneland (10-6, 4-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) Knights beat Sycamore at home for big NI Big 12 win. 3. Sycamore (10-7, 2-2 NI Big 12 East) Close loss for Spartans on the road at Kaneland. 4. Genoa-Kingston (11-6, 3-2 Big Northern Conference East) Cogs look to move up conference standings. 5. Indian Creek (10-8, 4-1 LTC) T’wolves bounce back with win over Leland-Earlville. 6. DeKalb (4-17, 2-3 NI Big 12 East) Barbs went 0-4 at weekend tournament. 7. Hiawatha (3-11, 1-3 LTC) Hawks fall to LaMoille in most recent conference game.