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SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Sycamore, freshman, guard
Sycamore coach Brett Goff’s only issue with his point guard’s offensive play early in the season was that she wasn’t shooting enough. The coach’s daughter didn’t have that problem in a 49-48 overtime win over Kaneland on Jan. 18, when she finished with 16 points. Goff has been an important defensive presence for the Spartans all season, and her offense is coming along.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Sycamore vs. DeKalb at the NIU Convocation Center, 6 p.m. today
The Spartans haven’t seen anything like the DeKalb defense this season.
Sterling at Kaneland, 4 p.m. Saturday
The Knights will try to bounce back from an overtime loss to Sycamore.
1. DeKalb (19-3, 7-0 NI Big 12 East): Barbs had one of their better defensive games Tuesday, holding United Township to 17 points.
2. Kaneland (12-8, 4-4 NI Big 12 East): The Knights suffered a tough loss to Sycamore last week.
3. Sycamore (9-9, 2-5 NI Big 12 East): The Spartans had a big win over Kaneland to split the season series.
4. Indian Creek (12-13, 4-4 Little Ten): A third-place finish in the LTC tournament with a win over Hinckley-Big Rock was a big step.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (13-12, 6-1 LTC): The Royals rebounded from a loss to Indian Creek with a win over Lisle.
6. Hiawatha (7-13, 1-4 LTC): The Hawks will look to rebound as the final stretch of the regular season approaches.
7. Genoa-Kingston (2-21, 1-8 Big Northern East): The Cogs barely missed out on their second BNC East win in a four-point loss to Marengo on Tuesday.
NOTEBOOK: Indian Creek snaps lengthy streak
Paul Muchmore can’t remember exactly how long it had been since the Indian Creek girls basketball team beat Hinckley-Big Rock. But the Timberwolves coach knows it had been years since their last win against the Royals before Friday’s 26-23 win in the Little Ten Conference tournament’s third-place game ended the streak.
“It’s probably been eight or nine years,” Muchmore said. “It’s been on our minds because we’ve been really beat up by them. It was a nice confidence boost.”
H-BR beat Indian Creek, 48-31, in December, but the Timberwolves have come a long way since then. Indian Creek picked up the win Friday even after starting post player Josie Diehl suffered a head injury early.
“It was nice to see several girls step up in different spots,” Muchmore said.
Hinckley-Big Rock rebounded from a rough loss to Indian Creek last week with a 40-34 win over Lisle on Tuesday.
The Royals trailed by nine late in the third quarter before surging to the win in the fourth.
“We did it by playing well on the defensive side of the floor and by being efficient on the offensive end of the floor,” H-BR coach Greg Burks said. “We didn’t take a lot of shots, but we got good opportunities for the most part, limited turnovers, especially in crunch time, and were good from the free-throw line. At some point in time, if you hope to beat someone of significance down the road, that’s what it’s going to take.”
Johnson making big strides
After missing about half of the 2011-12 season, sophomore Madelyne Johnson has been a key piece for DeKalb this year.
Johnson and Courtney Bemis combine to make a formidable front line. But Johnson, at 6-foot-1, also has been forced to play more on the perimeter with point guard Brittney Patrick out for the past few games.
“This is really her first full year at the varsity level, getting back, so everything she gives us is a plus,” coach Chris Davenport said. “I knew she was good, and I knew what she could do. Her biggest attribute is that she can go inside and outside.”
VIEWS: Conference tourney has detractor, but still fun
The Little Ten Conference tournament is a fun tradition.
A few weeks before the regular season ends, conference teams get together for a week to decide on a champion, although the regular-season title still holds weight.
But the tournament also is polarizing, and Greg Burks admits he wouldn’t be disappointed if it came to an end.
“I don’t know, if they were to do away with it, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings too much,” the Hinckley-Big Rock coach said. “You would just as soon not play [certain teams] three times in a season like happens sometimes.”
Burks does admit that it’s beneficial in a way, because it helps prepare teams for the postseason. But he said he’d enter his team in another tournament if the LTC tournament went away.
Paul Muchmore likes that his team can get used to a tournament setting a few weeks before the state playoffs begin.
“I like tournament-style play, you’ve got to go back to back, you don’t know who your [next-round] opponent’s going to be,” Muchmore said.
While it’s strange to crown a tournament champion a few weeks before the regular season ends, the fact that a conference tournament is still in existence is fun. It gives teams that might not be in the running for the regular-season title a chance to win a championship, and the timing gives teams a chance to recoup for the state playoffs after a tough week of basketball.
As Burks put it, “If you talked to 10 different people, you’d get 10 different opinions on the tournament.”
With few tournaments like it in the area, the LTC tournament stands as a unique tradition that has stood the test of time.
• Anthony Zilis is a contributor to the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.