DeKALB – For the first time this season, all was right in the world of DeKalb basketball.
Entering Friday’s game against Yorkville, the Barbs finally had momentum after beating Kaneland and LaSalle-Peru after a winless January.
“We were just feeling it,” DeKalb center Jake Smith said. “I thought we were going to come out and manhandle [Yorkville].”
That didn’t happen.
After leading early in the third quarter, the Barbs ended up losing, 50-43, to a team they already had defeated this season.
“Honestly, I’m in shock,” coach Dave Rohlman said. “Typically, I’ll wait to the next morning to watch film, but I’m going to have to watch this tonight, because I don’t understand what happened.”
In a low-scoring first half, Smith scored six points to help whittle down an early deficit, and the Barbs (6-21, 3-6 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) went into the half trailing, 21-20.
Andre Harris scored and set up Rudy Lopez early in the second half, and it looked like the Barbs might continue to roll through the latter part of the conference season.
But Yorkville forward Taylor Carter scored six of seven Yorkville (11-14, 4-5 NI Big 12) points, twice beating defenders on back-door cuts off of inbound passes for open layups. Carter scored a game-high 19 points, much of which came on open layups.
“After a while, we started to panic, and we got out of position a little bit,” Rohlman said. “We just didn’t adjust throughout the game tonight, and the last couple of games, we’ve been doing that.”
After taking the lead, DeKalb didn’t score for the next 7:28, and by the time Harris finally knocked down a jumper with 6:47 to go in the fourth quarter, Yorkville led, 36-26. Harris scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Barbs.
“We came out sluggish and we lowered our heads a little bit,” Harris said. “They came out and scored a couple of buckets, and after that, it was a downfall.”
After falling out of contention in the conference race early, the Barbs were starting to gain some momentum heading into the postseason.
Now, they’ll have to gain their swagger back before they play Belvidere North in the regional quarter-final on Feb. 25.
“After the past two games, we thought we could go to regionals, win regionals,” Smith said. “Now, this takes a big toll out of it.”
Luckily, the Barbs have a game today against Yorkville before they play Sycamore next Friday. If they win those two games, Harris thinks they’ll be right back where they were before Friday’s surprising loss.
“We came into the game pretty confident,” Harris said. “We have a game [today]. We just need to make sure we practice really hard next week and go into the game against Sycamore with a ‘W’ and then start regionals.”