The high school boys basketball season certainly wasn’t short on close games and surprising results. Hinckley-Big Rock was the area’s most consistent team and won its second consecutive Little Ten title while Sycamore continued a dramatic two-year turnaround with a regional championship. Kaneland also came away with the Northern Illinois Big 12 East crown.
Here are the top 10 games the Daily Chronicle covered this season.
10. Hiawatha 44, Leland-Earlville 43, on Dec. 7, 2012
Hiawatha endured a tough season, but got off to a good start in its Little Ten Conference opener. On its home court, the Hawks rallied in the fourth quarter for a one-point win. A driving layup from senior Ed Canchola and a short jumper by senior Dakotah Quimby catalyzed a 5-0 run in the final two minutes.
9. Hinckley-Big Rock 51, Genoa-Kingston 40, on Jan. 8, 2013
Two of the most electric backcourts in the area squared off in this nonconference game in early January. Forward Zach Michels had 11 big points for the Royals, who locked down defensively and came away with a big win on the road. Adam Price led the Cogs with 12 points.
8. Sycamore 55, DeKalb 32, on Jan. 25, 2013
Sycamore entered the annual rivalry game at Northern Illinois’s Convocation Center with an 11-game losing streak against the Barbs. However, the Spartans would quickly prove that this year would be different. Sycamore started the game on a 9-0 run and never trailed. The Spartans led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter and emphatically ended the losing streak.
7. DeKalb 50, Kaneland 45, on Feb. 8
The Barbs struggled for most of the season, but hit a groove late in the year. The Barbs got balanced scoring throughout their lineup and made free throws down the stretch to seal the win. It was DeKalb’s first win in more than a month and the Barbs spoiled Kaneland’s chance to grab the conference title.
6. Sycamore 54, DeKalb 49 on Feb. 22, 2013
The second game of the season between the two rivals would prove to be a much closer affair. Sycamore again started well at the start, sprinting to an 8-0 run, but this time DeKalb wouldn’t let the Spartans pull away. The Barbs kept things close and took a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Sycamore responded. The Spartans went on a 12-2 run and won their second consecutive game over DeKalb.
5. Hinckley-Big Rock 64, Indian Creek 60, on Jan. 15, 2013
The last two undefeated teams in the Little Ten met in Hinckley for sole possession of the conference lead. H-BR led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter before Indian Creek rallied.
The Timberwolves comeback started with consecutive four-point plays from Jaron Todd and Indian Creek slowly chipped away in the fourth quarter.
They got within two, but Mitch Ruh sank two free throws in the final seconds to clinch the home win for H-BR.
4. Sycamore 51, Hampshire 44, in Class 3A Burlington Central Regional finals
The Spartans hadn’t won a regional championship since 2004, but were coming off one of their best performances of the season with a 20-point win over Rochelle. A back-and-forth affair seemed to be slipping away from Sycamore as Hampshire took an eight-point lead in the third quarter. But Scott Nelson scored eight consecutive points and the Spartans used a 15-0 run to take the lead for good. Sycamore went 9-for-10 from the line and won its first postseason trophy in nine seasons.
3. Indian Creek 58, Newark 57 (OT), in Little Ten Conference Tournament semifinals
More than 32 minutes were necessary to decide who would face H-BR in the tournament finals. Indian Creek built an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Newark stormed back. Down two on the final possession, Newark’s Brett Anderson launched a 3-pointer that came up short but fell into the hands of teammate Jack Clausel who put it back up for a layup as time expired.
Indian Creek rallied in overtime and Garrison Govig hit one of two free throws with 9.6 seconds left for the game-winning point.
2. Kaneland 43, Sycamore 42 on Jan. 22, 2013
Drew David missed the first meeting between the two teams, but certainly made his impact felt in the second matchup. Sycamore led for most of the second half, but didn’t make a field goal in the final four minutes. Still the Spartans held a two-point lead in the final 30 seconds as Kaneland called a timeout with possession.
The play was designed for Matt Limbrunner inside, but with the Spartans denying the post, David took a pass near the top of the arc, pumpfaked past a defender and drained a 3-pointer as time expired for the win.
1. Hinckley-Big Rock 58, Mooseheart 51 on Dec. 5, 2012
More than 30 minutes before the game started, everyone could tell this was going to be something more than just another nonconference regular-season game. The H-BR gym sold out as the administration had to turn people away who wanted to see two great small-school teams.
The two schools also happened to be involved in a little bit of controversy surrounding the eligibility of three Mooseheart players.
Mooseheart’s South Sudanese players were allowed to play and the game more than lived up to its billing. Mooseheart led by as many as 10 in the fourth quarter, but the Royals rallied with a 13-0 run to end the game. Jared Madden had 14 of his 22 points down the stretch and the Royals made an early-season statement.