DeKALB – Plenty has changed on the defensive end of the court for the DeKalb girls basketball team this season after losing a pair of Daily Chronicle All-Area guards, Courtney Patrick and Rachel Torres, and a 6-foot-2 center, Courtney Bemis.
But for one quarter against Yorkville on Friday, the Barbs looked every bit the defensive stalwart they were over the previous few seasons, at least on the scoreboard.
The young Barbs led 17-0 after the first quarter of Saturday’s doubleheader with the boys team before Yorkville found its groove in a 61-46 DeKalb win.
“We were a step ahead – we knew what they were going to throw at us,” junior Maddy Johnson said. “We did pretty well. It’s our first conference game. We set the bar and I think we know where we’re at now.”
After struggling for the first few games of the season, Johnson continued her strong run of play, scoring 10 of her 23 points in the first quarter.
“I think I have (hit my stride),” said Johnson, who added 10 rebounds and three blocks. “We’ve clicked as a team. It was kind of getting used to each other at the beginning of the season, and I feel like we’re finally there.”
The Foxes (3-2, 0-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) played the Barbs (4-1, 1-0) point-for-point for the rest of the game, but they couldn’t mount more than a feeble comeback attempt. Brittney Patrick scored eight points for the Barbs, and Paige Wogen and Jasmine Malloy had six apiece.
Despite the win, Davenport sees plenty to improve upon defensively after the Barbs set a high bar for themselves during the past few seasons.
“In the first quarter, I thought we were active for the most part,” Davenport said. “Then they played us even for the last three quarters, which I wasn’t happy about. ... Varsity minutes, it’s a different speed. We’re still young, and I think that’s part of the problem.”
The DeKalb boys team is just as young, and coach Dave Rohlman thought the Barbs’ youth was evident in a 66-58 loss to the Foxes.
“I thought our inexperienced showed tonight at times,” Rohlman said. “We panicked, we just refused to get the basketball inside and we tried to shoot our way out. That’s not going to work against most teams. We’ve got guys who can shoot the ball, but day-in and day-out, when you’ve got guys shooting 3s, and they’re shooting layups, it’s not going to be a good result for us.”
The Barbs (2-3, 0-1 NI Big 12 East) hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and led 15-12. DeKalb took a 24-21 lead in the second after sophomore Ethan Conroy hit a 3-pointer before heading into the half tied at 25.
But Yorkville (3-2, 1-0) began the third quarter with a 13-2 run to take a 38-27 lead. Junior point guard Rudy Lopez scored 15 of his team-high 20 points during the game’s last 11 minutes as the Barbs closed to within four, but it wasn’t enough. DeKalb couldn’t overcome the slow start to the half.
“It was just bad defense, really bad defense,” Lopez said. “That killed us in the third quarter.”
The DeKalb roster is loaded with juniors and a few sophomores, so the Barbs have gone through growing pains throughout the early part of the season, even after winning two games at the Boylan Tournament.
“It’s just going to take us a little bit longer,” Rohlman said. “I thought we were very fundamentally sound and played good defense when we made our run to get back into it, but we just couldn’t sustain it tonight. ... With guys who are younger and have less experience, that’s going to happen from time to time.”