Jacobson: The DeKalb-Sycamore basketball doubleheader at the Northern Illinois Convocation Center is always one of the most anticipated nights during the high school basketball season.
Let’s start off with the girls game, which will lead off the evening. What do you think are a couple crucial matchups or things to watch?
Nitz: Here’s one thing that catches my eye when looking at this game: DeKalb is a veteran team, a group that made a super-sectional last season. The Barbs have been in these types of games before. The Spartans, on the other hand, don’t have as much experience playing in an atmosphere like tonight’s, when the Convocation Center will have more fans than any NIU basketball game this season. We’ll see how Brett Goff’s young team responds.
In terms of matchups, I’m interested to see how DeKalb’s defense tries to handle sophomore Bailey Gilbert, the Spartans’ leading scorer.
Ross, what jumps out at you when studying this game?
Jacobson: I’m looking forward to the battle of point guards where two of the area’s best freshmen will be matching up for the first time. DeKalb’s Brittney Patrick and Sycamore’s Lauren Goff both should be a lot of fun to watch over the next four years. Patrick already is one of the most athletic guards in the area and can get to the basket with ease. Goff also is capable of attacking the rim, but possesses a steady outside jumper, as well.
Let’s switch over to the boys side where the rivalry has been one-sided over the past five seasons. What does Sycamore have to do to stop an 11-game losing streak to the Barbs?
Nitz: I think the main thing the Spartans have to do is find a way to handle Jake Smith and Andre Harris in the post. Those two are tough to stop when they’re on. DeKalb didn’t fare too well in the Hononegah Martin Luther King tournament, but the 6-foot-6 Smith was one player who stood out for the Barbs. We’ll see if Sycamore posts Scott Nelson and Ben Niemann are up to the challenge.
Jacobson: Maybe it’s because I was always a guard during my playing days, but I’ll go back to the point guard position as one to watch. I think DeKalb sophomore Rudy Lopez will play a big role. If he’s hitting open shots and playing under control, the Barbs offense can be efficient in stretches. For the Barbs, it boils down to turnovers. To have a chance at extending the winning streak, DeKalb needs to keep the number of turnovers closer to 10 rather than 20.
When it’s all said and done, who are you taking in both sides of the doubleheader?
Nitz: I’m going with a split. This DeKalb girls team is loaded, I don’t see the Barbs losing in Northern Illinois Big 12 East play, and they should get a victory tonight. The boys side is a little tougher to pick, but I’ll take Sycamore to win for the first time since 2007.
What do you see? Can the Spartan girls pull off an upset? Do the DeKalb boys win yet again?
Jacobson: I’ll agree with you on the girls side. Sycamore has only one senior on the roster. That makes the Spartans a team to look at in the upcoming years, but I think the Barbs will be too much for Sycamore tonight.
For the boys, I’ll go with history and take the Barbs. A lot of DeKalb’s issues in the first half of the season have come from inconsistency on the offensive end. There should be no lack of focus for DeKalb in this rivalry game and I’ll pick the Barbs to extend the streak.