Boys Basketball Insider

SPOTLIGHT ON...

Eric Phillips, senior, Hinckley-Big Rock

Phillips scored a Plano tournament-record 44 points in a triple-overtime loss to Sandwich. The previous record of 42 had been set earlier in the day.

WHAT TO WATCH

Kaneland vs. Geneva at United Center, 2 p.m. Saturday

The Knights get a rare chance to play in a professional stadium when they take on Geneva in a non-conference matchup.

Marengo at Genoa-Kingston, 7:15 p.m. Saturday

The Cogs get back into conference play and look to put their struggles at the Plano tournament behind them.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Sycamore (9-3, 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) – Spartans rebound from tough loss to Richmond-Burton.

2. Kaneland (7-3, 1-1 NI Big 12) – Knights have won three in a row.

3. Genoa-Kingston (9-4, 3-0 Big Northern Conference East) – Cogs struggled with shooting at Plano.

4. Indian Creek (5-7, 2-0 Little Ten) – Timberwolves dominated H-BR at Plano.

5. DeKalb (5-9, 0-2 NI Big 12) – Barbs gained lots of experience at Dayton tournament.

6. Hinckley-Big Rock (4-9, 1-1 LTC) – Up-and-down tournament at Plano for Royals.

7. Hiawatha (1-6, 0-2 LTC) – Hawks had long holiday break

NOTEBOOK

Last year DeKalb's size inside did a lot for the Barbs defensively. Teams were more hesitant to attack the paint.

This year, with Andre Harris and Jake Smith graduated, DeKalb often goes with a smaller, quicker lineup that is more dependent on having solid perimeter defense. Guards like Ethan Conroy and Pat Aves have also shown they aren't afraid to step in front and draw offensive fouls.

"Ethan provides some great defense for us, he took three charges the other night in a loss," DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman said. "He understands the game very well and maybe, again, getting used to the pace of it, but mentally clearly a varsity basketball player."

Royals dealing with lack of depth: Hinckley-Big Rock coach Bill Sambrookes already had the tough task of replacing five starters heading into this season.

On top of that, the returner who earned the most minutes on last year's team, Tom Sanders, did not come out this season due to back problems he suffered during soccer. Recently, senior Andy VanLanduyt suffered a torn ACL during an indoor soccer game in what Sambrookes called a freak accident.

Right now, the Royals only have nine active players.

"It's hard to simulate some of the things in games in practice, because we just don't have the bodies to do that," Sambrookes said. "So, we're a little limited as far as that. But we've got to work through that, that's just an obstacle. Shouldn't be an excuse."

VIEWS: Plano tournament a mixed bag for local teams

With three teams ranked in the top 11 of the Plano Christmas Classic bracket, expectations were high for our local teams.

But after the conclusion of the tournament on Monday, it's safe to say not many expected Kaneland's ninth-place finish to be the highlight.

Hinckley-Big Rock, Indian Creek, Kaneland and Genoa-Kingston went a combined 7-9 over the week-long tournament. Each team got behind the proverbial eight ball early with losses in their first game.

However, there were positives for every team coming out of the Plano tournament that annually gives teams a good barometer of where they're at heading into the second half of the season.

Kaneland lost a tough game to Newark at the outset, but then rebounded to win its next three games of the tournament, including a couple close matches against Dixon and Mendota.

Indian Creek only went 2-2, but played maybe its best game of the season in a 61-37 win over H-BR in the final game of the tournament. We'll see if that spurs any momentum heading into Little Ten play.

Genoa-Kingston fought shooting woes all tournament, but still led Kaneland at halftime and came out on the right side of a one-point game against Forreston.

H-BR's Eric Phillips set a tournament record with his 44-point effort against Sandwich in a three-overtime loss.

The Plano tournament isn't the most important moment of a team's season, but it can still help push a team in one direction or the other.

Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at rjacobson@shawmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.