Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss the DeKalb-Sycamore boys basketball rematch.
Jacobson: We finally are at the end of the boys basketball regular season and we close it out with the second edition of Sycamore vs. DeKalb. The first matchup between the rivals brought some fireworks as Sycamore ended its long, 11-game losing streak to the Barbs with an emphatic 55-32 win Jan. 25 at the Northern Illinois Convocation Center.
Today, the stage moves to Sycamore. The Spartans have been up and down since their win over DeKalb, losing their last game at home to Rochelle after a good win at Yorkville, but the Barbs seem to have found their stride of late, winning three of four on the road.
Before we get to predictions, who needs a win in this game more: Sycamore or DeKalb?
Nitz: To me, this is an easy answer. Sycamore. This game is huge for the Spartans, considering they get a share of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title with a victory over the Barbs and a Kaneland loss at Rochelle tonight.
I don’t think Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy will really have much of a hard time getting his team motivated. A conference title would be a nice accomplishment for a program that finished 5-20 two years ago.
Jacobson: I’m going the other way and will tell you why this should mean more to DeKalb. I know Sycamore has a potential conference championship on the line, but all of that is secondary to what happens in the playoffs.
The Barbs finally have found some momentum late in the season and need that to continue if they’re going to have a shot at advancing in their Class 4A regional. Plus, after Sycamore stopped an 11-game losing streak against the Barbs in January, the Spartans are playing with house money in this game.
Steve, what are the three keys for Sycamore if the Spartans are going to sweep the series?
Nitz: You make a good point. I think an obvious key for Sycamore is trying to handle Jake Smith and Andre Harris inside. However, I think Spartans post players Scott Nelson and Ben Niemann certainly will be up to the challenge of doing that. Getting out to a quick lead as Sycamore did in the first meeting and getting the home crowd into the game certainly wouldn’t hurt either.
I’ll turn the question around. What does DeKalb need to do to get a victory and continue its momentum into the postseason?
Jacobson: More than anything, DeKalb needs to play poised and under control, limiting the wasted possessions and careless turnovers that plagued the team early in the season. The Barbs are at their best when four or five players are scoring in double figures, so getting everyone involved offensively is a key.
Prediction time. Who do you have in the final regular-season game?
Nitz: I’m going to go with a Sycamore sweep, although I think it will be a lot closer this time. I’ll say, Spartans 53, Barbs 49.
Are you taking Sycamore for the sweep, or will DeKalb end the regular season on a high note?
Jacobson: I’m jumping back on the Barbs’ bandwagon. Coach Dave Rohlman says he thinks his team is playing its best basketball right now and I love the success the Barbs have had away from home with big wins at Kaneland, LaSalle-Peru and Streator.
DeKalb splits the series with a 50-42 win.