Spartans show resilience in win Sycamore’s win over DeKalb on Friday was a milestone for the program, snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Barbs.
But it also showed resiliency from a team that has had its share of heartbreak this season. Just three days before the rivalry game at Northern Illinois University’s Convocation Center, Sycamore lost to Kaneland, 43-42, on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Drew David. It was a game they controlled throughout and would’ve won with a couple of made free throws down the stretch.
“We talked about how we could sulk and pout or we could choose to come to work the next day... and play well,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. “They decided to take the bull by the horns and play hard and not worry about things in the past. They’ve always played their tails off.”
Hiawatha prevails with five
Every time Hiawatha coach Danny Klein called a timeout late in Monday’s Little Ten Conference tournament win over LaMoille, he’d ask the same question.
“Does anybody need a break?” he’d ask.
In turn, his players would shake their heads.
Klein learned during school Monday that two starters would miss Monday’s game. With three players already ineligible, Klein was left with only five varsity players, so he called up two junior varsity players to sit on the bench.
Only one starter caught a breather the entire game because of foul trouble.
“I told [the starters], obviously, play aggressively and play hard like you normally would, but if it’s questionable, if it’s a layup, give it to them,” Klein said. “I can’t risk players getting into foul trouble. We were able to avoid that thank God.”
• Anthony Zilis contributed to this report.
VIEWS: Knights could be primed for playoff run
Before the Kaneland boys basketball team even played a game this season, the Knights had already been dealt two big losses.
The first came in late August when junior wing Thomas Williams transferred from Kaneland after his family was forced to move to Texas. Williams averaged about 12 points and 4.5 rebounds last season as a sophomore and was an all-Northern Illinois Big 12 East first team selection.
The second came came near the end of football season when point guard and football quarterback Drew David suffered a wrist injury in the second half of the football regular season. It hindered his play in the football postseason and forced the junior to miss several games at the beginning of basketball season.
As expected the Knights struggled at the start, going 1-4 in their five contests, and losing an early conference game to Sycamore.
But it all turned around right when David returned to the court. In his debut against DeKalb, David nailed a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play to give the Knights the lead, forced a steal and nailed a couple of free throws to seal the win.
Since then, the Knights haven’t lost a conference game and are undefeated in January. David’s heroics played out again with a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Knights a 43-42 win over Sycamore and now Kaneland has a firm hold on the conference title.
Their rough start might preclude the Knights from getting a top postseason seed, but, outside of Hinckley-Big Rock, Kaneland looks like the area’s best bet to make a playoff run.
• 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.
Scott Nelson, Sycamore, senior center
Nelson led the Spartans with 16 points in a 55-32 win over DeKalb. The victory snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Barbs.
What to watch for
Kaneland at Yorkville, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Kaneland will try to keep its lead in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East standings.
Genoa-Kingston at Burlington Central, 7 p.m. Saturday The Cogs look to avenge an early-season loss to the Rockets when they go on the road Saturday.
1. Hinckley-Big Rock (17-3, 5-0 Little Ten Conference) Royals advance to Little Ten Conference tournament finals. 2. Kaneland (12-6, 5-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) Knights cruised past Sterling for crossover win. 3. Sycamore (11-9, 2-4 NI Big 12 East) Sycamore ends losing streak vs. DeKalb with emphatic win. 4. Genoa-Kingston (11-6, 3-2 Big Northern Conference East) Cogs get good win at home over Byron. 5. Indian Creek (12-8, 5-1 LTC) T'Wolves looking for big win against Newark in Little Ten tournament. 6. Hiawatha (5-16, 1-3 LTC) Hiawatha edges LaMoille in first round of LTC tournament. 7. DeKalb (4-18, 2-4 NI Big 12 East) Barbs dealt big loss at hands of rival Sycamore.