SPOTLIGHT ON ...
Hinckley-Big Rock, junior, forward
Cowan had 17 points in the Royals' 43-36 win over Lisle on Wednesday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
DeKalb hosts MLK Tournament, Saturday and Monday
The Barbs will face some good Class 4A competition, which includes possible regional opponent Belvidere North.
Sycamore at Kaneland, 5:30 p.m. Friday
Spartans and Knights will be the first part of a boys-girls doubleheader.
Little Ten Tournament, Monday-Friday
Hinckley-Big Rock hosts this year's event, with the exception of the Jan. 23 consolation games. There's a shot the Royals and Indian Creek could meet up in the championship.
1. Sycamore (13-4, 4-0 N. Illinois Big 12 East)
Junior Bailey Gilbert is easily one of the best players in the area.
2. DeKalb (12-6, 4-1 NI Big 12 East)
Big game against Kaneland tonight.
3. Kaneland (9-10, 2-1 NI Big 12 East)
Knights have a chance to make a nice statement against the Barbs.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (10-11, 5-2 Little Ten)
Conference title hopes pretty much gone, but Royals have a shot to make a run in the LTC tourney.
5. Indian Creek (11-9, 5-2 LTC)
Timberwolves the No. 4 seed in LTC tourney.
6. Genoa-Kingston (5-13, 1-5 Big Northern East)
Cogs have been in a rough stretch.
7. Hiawatha (2-11, 0-5 LTC)
Hawks play Paw Paw on Monday in the LTC tournament play-in game.
NOTEBOOK: DeKalb looking forward to hosting MLK Day tournament
DeKalb coach Chris Davenport is a big fan of tournaments. So when Barbs athletic director Bryon Houy asked Davenport if he wanted to host a tourney over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, DeKalb's second-year coach jumped at the idea.
"I like running tournaments," Davenport said. "I was involved in the Chuck Dayton Tournament for years, being on the boys side. I still help with it."
This year's event at DeKalb High will take place Saturday and Monday and include eight teams – DeKalb, Metea Valley, Belvidere North, Stevenson, Maine South, Oswego, Glenbard East and Rock Island.
The first four teams make up Pool A with the second four making up Pool B. Each team will play two games each day and face the three other teams in its own pool and another from the opposite pool. The team with the best record wins the title, though there may need to be some tiebreaking procedures.
In the coming years, Davenport said there could be 12 or 16 teams involved with the fieldhouse being utilized.
"I'm excited for it. We've got interest from other people for the future, too," he said. "A lot of people that I contacted, when we decided to start doing it they were already contracted into their nonconference games."
Little Ten Tournament begins Monday: This year's Little Ten Tournament looks to be wide open. Heading into Thursday, top-seeded Newark was unbeaten in conference play.
Hinckley-Big Rock coach Greg Burks, who led the Royals to LTC Tournament championships in 2009-11, said there's a number of teams who could be hoisting the trophy Friday, Jan. 24 in Hinckley.
Burks' Royals are the No. 3 seed and will take on sixth-seeded LaMoille in the quarterfinals Monday at 8 p.m.
"I think there's probably several teams going in with the expectation that they might win it or get into that championship game," Burks said. "Certainly there's a good opportunity for some of those lower-seeded teams to get an upset in the first round.
"That's what concerns me, we open against LaMoille on Monday night, that's a team we had a tough time with in December when we went down to their place."
Indian Creek is the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 Somonauk Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Timberwolves are a team which could find themselves in the final with some solid play.
"There's more teams that have a chance to win it than there have been in a long time," Indian Creek coach Paul Muchmore said. "I think you've got a handful of teams that, if they play well, have a shot at winning it."
VIEWS: Little Ten Tournament a great tradition
Hinckley-Big Rock coach Greg Burks has won two Class 1A state titles, three sectional championships and five straight regional titles.
However, some of Burks' cherished moments in his coaching career come from the Little Ten Tournament.
Each season, the Little Ten interupts regular conference play for a week and the teams go at it for a tournament title. It's a nice change of pace and a long tradition the conference has had. Burks said the girls tournament has been going on since the early 1980s. The boys tournament has been going on since the 1920s.
"One of my favorite memories coaching, I remember one of my first years, this was in the 2002 year when I was an assistant to Larry Peppers, we were the fourth seed in the tournament and ended up winning it on our own floor," Burks said. "That was a great memory."
As a head coach, Burks has had plenty of good moments in the Little Ten Tournament. The Royals won this annual event from 2008-11, Burks' last year as an assistant and his first three seasons as H-BR head coach.
"We just had a great stretch of teams during that time," he said.
Indian Creek is in a different situation, the Timberwolves have not won the tournament on either the boys or girls side since Shabbona and Waterman high schools combined to form Indian Creek in the 1990s.
"It'd be nice to be the first team to win it," Timberwolves coach Paul Muchmore said.
The Little Ten Tournament has some great tradition, and it's an event that I'd like to see some other conferences copy as a nice end to the regular season and warmup to the postseason.
Within the Little Ten, it's not just any old tournament either.
• Steve Nitz is a sports reporter for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @SNitz_DDC.