DeKalb coach Chris Davenport has called the Montini Christmas Tournament the best holiday tournament in the state.
Last week's field was littered with some of the best teams in northern Illinois. Three of the four squads which made up last year's Class 4A final four competed in Lombard.
It was the host Broncos, who took third in Class 3A last season, who came away with the title after a 66-63 win over Rolling Meadows.
Davenport's Barbs got off to a rough start, dropping their first two games against Neuqua Valley and Proviso West before rebounding with wins over Plainfield East and St. Joseph. The Barbs took home the fifth-place consolation title.
DeKalb's second-year coach said the tournament taught his team that, in order to run with some of the top squads in the state, his team needs to play a full game.
"Just the level you need to play at to compete with good teams. Like the Neuqua Valley game, we competed for a quarter and a half, we were right with them," Davenport said. "But it's got to be sustained. They played four quarters like that, not a quarter and a half."
Timberwolves find success with man defense: Indian Creek took second place in the Amboy Tournament, heading to the championship game for only the second time in a tourney coach Paul Muchmore said Indian Creek has been at for more than 15 years. The Timberwolves suffered a 50-42 loss to the hosts in the final.
Muchmore gave a lot of credit for his team's finish to a man-to-man defense the T'wolves have featured this year. He said it was especially good in pool play wins over Plano and Ottawa Marquette.
"They played hard, they got after it, dove after loose balls," Muchmore said. "It was just effort. execution and effort, I guess. Man's not easy to play, you've got to put the effort in."
VIEWS: There's a lot to look forward to in Sycamore
I didn't expect to be putting Sycamore at the top of the power rankings.
However, the Spartans have stood at the top spot for both editions of the Insider so far, and for good reason.
Sycamore is 9-4, possessing the best record in the area. The Spartans have beaten DeKalb, and have a legit go-to player in junior Bailey Gilbert, who seemed to be unstoppable at the Oswego East Tournament.
Brett Goff's young team is putting things together, and this is looking like a team which has a good shot at making a nice run in Class 3A come postseason time.
The Spartans caught my eye with their win over DeKalb back in December, and were impressive once again last weekend, taking second place at Oswego East – a tourney filled with a number of Class 4A schools.
"The girls just played with no fear and ended up playing two very good games together," Goff said. "Really showed what we're capable of doing which I think was very reassuring to the coaches and the girls."
There's a bright future for this team, which starts three sophomores and a junior. There could also be some good things ahead in the winter of 2014. The Spartans should have the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title in their sights, and will most likely have to beat DeKalb again to clinch the championship outright.
A regional which will includes Kaneland, Plano, Rochelle and Sandwich is definitely winnable.
Goff should have a lot to look forward to.
"I think these girls have matured a lot quicker than I thought they might," he said. "They've really showed the good leadership on the floor. Off the floor I think it's a very tight-knit group."
• Steve Nitz is a sports reporter for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Sycamore, junior, wing
Gilbert was on fire at the Oswego East Tournament, where she was named the tournament MVP following the Spartans' second-place finish.
In a win over West Chicago, Gilbert set a tournament record with 10 3-pointers on her way to 34 points.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Genoa-Kingston at Sycamore, 7 p.m. tonight
Spartans will provide a nice test for the Cogs, who are now in Class 3A.
Rockford Boylan at DeKalb, 2:30 p.m., Saturday
Barbs hope to build on strong finish at Montini tournament.
1. Sycamore (9-4, 2-0 NI Big 12 East)
Very nice showing at the Oswego East Tournament, which featured a number of Class 4A schools.
2. DeKalb (9-5, 1-1 NI Big 12 East)
After slow start at Montini Tournament, DeKalb rebounded to win its final two games.
3. Kaneland (8-8, 1-1 NI Big 12 East)
Knights claimed ninth place at Dixon Holiday Tournament.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (7-8, 3-0 LTC)
5. Indian Creek (8-7, 3-1 LTC)
Josie Diehl, Samantha Mosley and Alexis Van Wyhe selected to all-tournament tam at Amboy.
6. Genoa-Kingston (5-9, 1-2 BNC East)
Cogs coming off long break heading into tonight's game against Sycamore.
7. Hiawatha (2-9, 0-4 LTC)
When the Hawks take the floor against Christian Liberty Jan. 7, it will be for the first time in over three weeks.