DeKALB – The DeKalb girls basketball team’s 2012-13 season came to an end more quickly than they thought.
The Barbs, who made a supersectional appearance in 2012, had their sights set on another long state run. But this time around, DeKalb didn’t hoist up a sectional plaque, and didn’t even pick up a postseason win.
Facing a tough draw in the Class 4A Belvidere North Regional semifinals, the Barbs suffered a 50-46 loss to Huntley. The Red Raiders, on the other hand, would go on to take fourth place in Class 4A.
“[The feeling] doesn’t go away,” Barbs sophomore Madelyne Johnson said. “We had expectations to go farther than that, so that’s definitely in the back of our mind this year.”
And there’s certainly a good chance the Barbs and Red Raiders, both will have strong squads once again, and will run into each other come February. By sheer proximity, both teams should be lined up in the same Class 4A sectional, if not the same regional.
“I’m sure we’ll be in their regional again, and I’m sure they’ll be out for blood just like we will be,” Johnson said.
The Red Raiders return four of five starters from last year’s team, including sisters Ali and Sam Andrews. Both averaged 15.7 points a game last year, and Sam has already committed to Truman State basketball for next seaon. Huntley is a team which will expect to go back to state this season. If they do run into DeKalb, the Barbs admit that Huntley will be the favorite this time.
“They’ve got everybody back, we don’t,” Davenport said.
DeKalb is hoping to win 20 games for the fourth year in a row and claim the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title for the fourth straight season as well. Johnson and Brittney Patrick, both mid-major Division I prospects, will play a big part in that.
However, DeKalb loses guards Rachel Torres, last year’s Daily Chronicle Player of the Year, and Courtney Patrick. Forward Courtney Bemis, a Miami of Ohio volleyball recruit, also did not come out for the team.
However, Johnson and Brittney Patrick have another year of experience under their belts, and the Barbs have added Sycamore transfer Paige Wogen, who will help stretch opposing defenses with her 3-point shooting and make it tough for teams to play a zone against DeKalb. Davenport said Johnson, a center, was his team’s best 3-point shooter a year ago.
“[Wogen] will be open and if I do get the ball I can kick it back right out to her. I feel like [double teams] will still come,” Johnson said. “That’s what I expect to see this season. Hopefully, her being out there will help it out a lot.”
As usual, DeKalb has a number of Class 4A teams on its schedule in preparation for the postseason. The Montini Christmas Tournament the Barbs will play in includes teams like Marian Catholic, the defending Class 4A champion, Rolling Meadows, the runner-up, as well as the host Broncos, who have won three out of the past four 3A titles and took third last season.
One thing DeKalb will have to get used to this season are the new rules designed to curb defensive hand-checking. DeKalb has always been a physical team, Davenport said, dating back to the Debbie Whitman days. However, this season the Barbs are going to have to make adjustments, just like every other team in the state.
“We’re working every day to get better in practice, hands-off stuff, disciplining, so we’re not actually fouling,” Patrick said.
Davenport said it may take until January for his team to get used to the new style of officiating. He noted that it’s a mindset, and that he’s confident his team will get there.
Should the Barbs learn to play with less physicality and play up to their potential this season, you can certainly look for a rematch with Huntley somewhere down the road in the postseason.
“It’s going to take time,” Davenport said. “We’re very young and we’re adjusting to the new style of officiating, which is what everybody is adjusting to.”