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Barbs hope late-season success continues in regional quarterfinal

Dave Rohlman’s DeKalb Barbs caught a little bit of fire at the end of the regular season.

Though DeKalb stands at just 7-22 entering tonight’s Class 4A Rockford East Regional quarterfinal against Belvidere North, the Barbs have won three of their last five contests.

While DeKalb, seeded fifth, has to get by the fourth-seeded Blue Thunder (8-20), and then beat top-seeded Rockford Jefferson in the semis and either No. 2 Rockford East or No. 3 Huntley Friday night in order to take home a regional championship, the Barbs are certainly playing well at the right time.

The main thing Rohlman points to is turnovers. DeKalb is averaging 22-23 turnovers per game on the season, but that hasn’t been the case during the current streak.

“We have finally limited our turnovers,” he said. “In all those (late season) wins we’ve had 12 or 13 turnovers. And I think our defensive focus has been better. Those are the two big things.”

One reason for the Barbs’ success down the stretch could be sophomore point guard Rudy Lopez. Rohlman said the play of Lopez, who’s averaging nine points per game, has been steady. The sophomore said his confidence has been raised as the season’s gone on, and pointed to a number of things the Barbs have done well at the end of the year.

“Defense, lack of turnovers, talking to each other,” Lopez said. “Sharing the ball, moving the ball on offense. Running our plays very well.”

While DeKalb may be playing much better lately, Rohlman knows it’s a tough regional, and said any of the top three seeds could have gotten the top spot. Jefferson was seeded first with a record of 17-12. East finished tied for second in the NIC-10 at 16-10, while Huntley had a final regular-season record of 17-8.

“I think it’s a tough regional. Jefferson got the one seed but Huntley’s very good and Rockford East is extremely fast,” Rohlman said. “It’s a pretty loaded regional.”

Burlington Central regional wide open: To Genoa-Kingston coach Corey Jenkins, every team in the Class 3A Burlington Central regional has a shot at taking home the crown. Jenkins’ Cogs are the No. 5 seed, but are 16-10 on the season. G-K faces Burlington Central in the first round. The Rockets beat the Cogs twice this season.

Hampshire (22-5) got the top seed. Sycamore (17-10) is seeded second while Rochelle has the third seed.

“One through five can win this thing, we feel,” Jenkins said. “Being a small school we got a low seed with a good record.”

Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy echoed Jenkins’ sentiments. Stacy’s Spartans lost to Rochelle, their semifinal opponent, 71-64, on Feb. 15., but defeated Rochelle by 18 back in December.

“Honestly, I think all five teams, if they’re playing well and things go their way, have a chance to win it, which makes it a lot of fun,” Stacy said. “There’s not going to be any easy games. Everything’s going to be a battle and whoever wins the regional will definitely earn it because I think all five teams are capable on any given night of beating anyone that they face.”

Kaneland is seeded third at the IMSA Regional. The Knights take on sixth-seeded IMSA tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

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