The past 11 times the boys basketball teams from DeKalb and Sycamore have met, the Barbs were the team celebrating a win on the court.
Since the 2008 season, DeKalb has gotten the upper hand on the Spartans twice each year – three times in 2010, when the Barbs beat Sycamore twice in the regular season and in the semifinals of the Class 3A Kaneland Regional.
Of course, none of the players from either team has been in high school since the streak started, but don’t think it isn’t on their minds.
The Barbs enter tonight’s contest at 4-17 and 2-3 in Northern Illinois Big 12 East play, but DeKalb center Jake Smith said the game is for bragging rights.
“It’s really important. We’re having a rough year this year, but if we [beat] Sycamore, then it all goes down the drain,” he said. “Sycamore’s the game, and we’ve got to win.”
After a string of rough seasons, the Spartans look like they’re on the right track, coming into tonight’s game at 10-8 and 2-3 in conference play after losing to Kaneland at the buzzer Tuesday.
The Spartans certainly have heard about their lack of success against the Barbs in recent years.
“I actually think it gets us more motivated, ready to come out and play,” Sycamore center Scott Nelson said.
To second-year Spartans coach Andrew Stacy, this game is important and not necessarily because of the rivalry.
“It will be big just because it’s a conference win and we need as many conference wins as we can right now,” he said “Everyone’s going to dwell upon, well it’s 10, 11 times in a row they’ve beaten us. These guys haven’t been part of the last nine,10,11 games. We’re just going to go out and try and treat us as normal as possible with our routine, just try and emphasize that it is a conference game, just happens to be at the Convo Center, and try and downplay it a little bit.”
Stacy did add that downplaying a game like this is easier said than done.
“There’s an elephant in the room,” he said. “They know the atmosphere and what it’s like on Friday night.”
Both teams held a practice there this week to get used to playing on a different court, which has different shooting backgrounds and is 10 feet longer than the normal high school floor.
“One of the things we do when we get over there is we run some full-court drills because what we find is our kids end up thinking, ‘Well, I’ve run this far, and then I look down and I’m 10 feet, or 5 feet short of where I’m supposed to be on the wings and things,’ “ DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman said. “Those are things we have to get used to.”
One thing Stacy tells his team is to just cherish the experience of playing in a college arena, something most high school kids don’t get the chance to do each season.
“It’s once a year and they should enjoy it,” he said. “It’s something they should remember the rest of their lives.”