For Sycamore’s David Compher, the short distance from Northern Illinois’ Huskie Stadium to the Convocation Center might as well have been miles upon miles.
While the Spartans have controlled the DeKalb-Sycamore rivalry on the gridiron, the Barbs had been equally as dominant on the hard court, winning the past 11 matchups over the past five years.
Nobody on Sycamore’s roster had beaten the Barbs in hoops. Not Compher. Not junior co-captain Devin Mottet. Not second-year coach Andrew Stacy.
But the script that had become so familiar in this basketball rivalry was flipped Friday night, and Sycamore did it with an emphatic 55-32 win.
“You don’t want to say this is the biggest game of the year, but it is,” Compher said. “To win this and not only for our community, and for our team, this means so much to us. To do this as a senior, it’s incredible.”
This game played out eerily similar to Sycamore’s 19-point football win over the Barbs. The Spartans jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and were never challenged. DeKalb had trouble executing offensively and were held without a field goal for the first 10 minutes of the game.
By the time Kyle Buzzard hit a three-pointer to put Sycamore up, 49-19, equaling the Spartans’ offensive output from the September football game, the only drama that remained was when the inevitable “just like football” chant would come from the Sycamore student section. It happened with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
For Compher, who beat DeKalb in football all three occasions he played on the varsity team, Friday’s victory represented one of the final athletic accomplishments to cross off his high-school bucket list.
“This was definitely on my list,” Compher said. “I’ll never forget this. I’ll never forget tonight.”
In a 30-second span, Compher scored eight consecutive points, hitting a three, sprinting the floor for a three-point play in transition, and then forcing a steal and getting a layup on the other end to make it a 20-point Spartan lead.
Compher doesn’t know where he’ll be going to college yet, but he says NIU is a possibility. If he ends up on the DeKalb campus, Compher will now be able to look at both stadiums with fond memories.
But when asked which victory during his senior year meant more, he couldn’t decide.
“I can’t say. They’re both pretty sweet,” Compher said. “Tonight’s definitely pretty sweet considering it’s been 11 straight for them. This is pretty nice.”
• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him Twitter @RossJacobson.