YORKVILLE – While he may have enjoyed going against a rowdy Yorkville student section, Sycamore point guard Jake Winters was more than happy to quiet them down.
That’s just what he and his teammates did. Sycamore (10-3, 3-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) came from 11 points down late in the third quarter to beat the Foxes, 58-55, on Friday night in Yorkville. Senior guard Cooper Vinz led the way with 13 points, including three 3-pointers.
“This is why we play,” Winters said of the atmosphere. “It was crazy to have a big, wild fan section. I know we get the same when we’re at home.”
Early on, the Spartans struggled against the defensive pressure of Yorkville and committed several bad turnovers. It didn’t help that senior forward Ben Niemann was relegated to the bench with two quick fouls.
The Foxes took a 33-27 lead into halftime and extended it to 45-34 with under a minute left in the third quarter. When they needed it most, senior forward Devin Mottet came through for the Spartans with five straight points to finish out the quarter.
“Once we finally were able to get the ball inside to Devin, that kind of helped us,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. “That’s kind of our go-to, when we get the ball inside and work inside-out.”
The run continued as Sycamore continued to drop the ball down low, and after a kick-out 3 from Vinz, the game was tied at 45.
The Spartans had all the momentum, and the 11-0 run had Yorkville rattled.
“Making the run going into the fourth quarter was definitely huge,” said Winters, who put his imprint on the game with seven points and three steals. “It was a huge confidence-booster for us.”
Sycamore continued to dominate the paint, and late free throws gave them the slight edge. Kyle Domark’s last-gasp effort went wide left and secured the Spartan’s win.
It was the seniors who got the job done. Winters led the charge as the point guard, and Mottet and Niemann took control down low. Mottet finished with 12 points while Niemann snared 11 rebounds.
“We’re fortunate enough to have a lot of seniors,” Stacy said. “One thing nice about having an experienced team is they find ways to win. It’s not always pretty, but they’re relentless and they don’t give up.”
Sycamore girls edge Yorkville: It was much of the same from the girls team in the first game of the boys-girls double-header. Down five with less than three minutes to go in regulation, Sycamore (11-4, 3-0 NI Big 12 East) fought back to claim a 59-54 overtime win. The late deficit was unfamiliar to the Spartans, but head coach Brett Goff liked his team’s resilience.
“I’m proud of the way my team fought back,” Goff said. “We haven’t been put in too many of those situations this year, but it’s nice to see we can respond the way we did.”
After struggling much of the game from the free-throw line, Sycamore came up big in the crucial moments. Sophomore guard Lauren Goff, who finished with 15 points, hit 3 of 4 in overtime to ice the game.
But maybe the biggest contribution came from junior guard Bailey Gilbert. Despite Yorkville’s best efforts to keep the ball out of her hands, she found open spots and knocked down jump shots from all over the court en route to 17 points.
“Bailey’s been on fire for what seems like the whole season,” Goff said, “and that’s a tribute to her.”
While admittedly not playing their best game, Sycamore played gritty defense down the stretch to seize victory. Yorkville point guard Corrine Rowe scored 14 points, but she was locked down late in the game before fouling out.
“We’ve matured a lot over the years, and we just trusted ourselves,” Gilbert said. “We got to where we needed to be, and we made plays.”