Tyler Carlson, senior, Kaneland
Carlson scored 21 points to lead the Knights in Kaneland's 54-51 loss to Geneva at the United Center. He also sank a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to temporarily tie the game.
WHAT TO WATCH
DeKalb at Rochelle, 7 p.m. Friday
Barbs get back into conference play with roadtrip to Rochelle.
Genoa-Kingston at Sycamore, 7 p.m. Saturday
Cogs and Spartans play in non-conference matchup that could be preview of regional play.
1. Sycamore (9-3, 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) – Spartans are favorites in NI Big 12 East as 2014 begins.
2. Kaneland (7-4, 1-1 NI Big 12) – Tough loss, but cool experience playing Geneva at United Center.
3. Genoa-Kingston (9-4, 3-0 Big Northern Conference East) – Cogs look to get back on track with games against Stillman Valley and Sycamore
4. Indian Creek (8-4, 2-0 Little Ten) – Timberwolves restart Little Ten play on road Friday.
5. DeKalb (5-9, 0-2 NI Big 12) – Barbs don't play any home games in January.
6. Hinckley-Big Rock (4-9, 1-1 LTC) – Phillips developing into go-to scorer.
7. Hiawatha (1-6, 0-2 LTC) – Hawks still looking for first conference victory.
On the road: DeKalb may want to get used to roadtrips in the month of January. After playing all 10 of its December games at its home gymnasium, the Barbs will hit the road for each of its 10 January contests.
It's yet another turn in a bipolar schedule the Barbs will play this season. To start the season, DeKalb played four November games on the road at the Rockford Boylan tournament before hosting its first two Northern Illinois Big 12 East matchups, three non-conference games and the Chuck Dayton tournament in December.
"There's different things you do on the road," DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman said. "It'll certainly test our character a little bit being on the road for an entire month."
In February, DeKalb will again be at home for four consecutive games before finishing the regular season at Kaneland and going to Belvidere North for regional play.
"It's the most unique schedule I've seen in nine years as a head coach," Rohlman said.
Sycamore on a roll: Sycamore had a number of positive takeaways from its winter tournament at Marengo. The Spartans rebounded from an opening six-point loss to Richmond-Burton, which won the tournament, to win its last four games.
"We saw some different things and go against some teams we don't normally see, which was nice," Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. "It forces us to kind of improve on things we don't do well."
Among those different things were a 1-2-2 press from Richmond-Burton and a matchup 2-3 zone played by Wauconda.
With five games in a short span, Sycamore was also able to utilize its deep roster, even with a couple players missing due to Christmas obligations.
"We were able to play basically 11-12 people every game. If someone's struggling we have some guys who are able to step up," Stacy said. "Foul trouble doesn't hurt us as much because we have some depth."
VIEWS: Genoa-Kingston – Sycamore game is good for everyone
When Sycamore and Genoa-Kingston's school districts canceled Tuesday's classes, it put one of the best non-conference games of the season into doubt.
G-K and Sycamore were scheduled to play on Tuesday night in a matchup pitting two of the area's best teams. But that quickly went out the window with this week's frigid temperatures.
Many times non-conference games wouldn't be rescheduled midway through the season as athletic directors are already dealing with a tight timeframe and need to find mututal off days. But after a couple tries, Sycamore and G-K got it done, rescheduling the game for Saturday night.
And both teams will be better for it.
"We don't want to lose a game just because these high school kids only get one chance to go through high school," Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. "We want to do everything we can to get every game and maximize our schedule."
Following a bit of a layoff after each team's tournaments over Christmas break, both will play conference games this week to shake off the rust before Saturday's contest.
Usually non-conference games don't carry a lot of meaning or significance. They can be essentially scrimmages to work on different things or games against bigger schools to challenge a team and get them out of their comfort zone. But the outcomes don't really carry consequence.
However, with this game being a potential preview of postseason play - both the Spartans and Cogs were placed in the same Class 3A regional - there is something to play for. Other than the potential top spot in my power rankings, of course.
Let's just hope the cold and snow hold off long enough for us – and both school's great student sections – to get to the gym on Saturday. It will be well worth the wait.
• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.