FREEPORT – Sycamore’s boys basketball team was right there.
Sycamore traded baskets with St. Francis for two quarters and a good amount of change in Thursday’s Class 3A Freeport Regional semifinal.
But suddenly, St. Francis went on the game’s first real run, hitting a few big baskets at the end of the third quarter on its way to a 48-38 win.
St. Francis (21-7) ended the third on a 9-0 spurt and led, 37-27, when the period ended. After that, there was only so much Sycamore could do.
“We just miscommunicated on some screens and they got some open looks,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. “When they got those open looks they made shots, and we didn’t do a good enough job offensively to get the ball inside like we wanted to.”
The dagger for St. Francis was a 3-pointer by Tim Zettinger that went in as the third-quarter buzzer sounded. The 3 gave St. Francis the game’s first double-digit lead.
“That hurt because we were down I think seven, and with that it took us to a double-digit deficit, so that was tough. If we would have been down seven it might have been a different story,” Sycamore junior forward Ben Niemann said. “It just kind of deflated us a little bit.”
With the loss, Sycamore ends its season at 19-11. Devin Mottet and Scott Nelson each led the Spartans with eight points in the contest. David Compher added seven and Jake Winters finished with five.
Despite the loss, the 2012-13 season showed how far the Sycamore boys basketball program has come in two years. Coming out of the locker room, the Spartans were noticeably dejected, but Niemann mentioned how Sycamore still reached two of the goals – the school’s first regional title since 2004 and a sweep over rival DeKalb.
To Niemann, there’s a lot to look forward to in Sycamore.
“I had a lot of fun, we had a really good group of guys. We just enjoyed each other,” he said. “Like I said, a great group. … It was a great year. Hopefully next year we can do bigger and better things. We had a great group of seniors who did a good job leading our program and everything. They’re definitely going to be missed.”
In Stacy’s second season, he coached over a team that he said worked hard throughout the calendar and did a lot of good things.
“I’m proud of our guys. They played so hard all season long,” Stacy said. “To accomplish what they’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time, I just can’t ask anymore of these guys. They did a great job all season long. I’m just proud to be their coach.”