DeKALB – DeKalb girls basketball coach Chris Davenport holds his team to a high standard, demanding consistent defensive toughness and mental acuity for 32 minutes each game.
So despite the fact that the Barbs notched pair of wins as hosts of their Martin Luther King Tournament on Saturday, a 44-39 overtime win over Metea Valley followed by a 50-39 win over Belvidere North, Davenport said after the nightcap that he knows his team must improve before the final two tournament games.
“We got two wins, that was the positive,” Davenport said. “I don't think we played our best today, but we found a way to get through it and win. We're not that far from the regional tournament, and like I told them in there, we've just got to win. We're going to have to play better on Monday to get two wins.”
Of course, DeKalb (15-6) has to deal with the challenge of having a short bench – only eight players suited up on Saturday.
Even so, the Barbs came out of the gates with an early lead against the Blue Thunder (6-11) in their third game in two days. After scoring 22 earlier in the day, Madelyne Johnson scored four quick points and the Barbs led 8-4 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Paige Wogen almost single-handedly stretched the DeKalb lead by sinking two 3-pointers and stealing a pass for an easy layup in the first five minutes of the quarter, giving DeKalb an 18-10 lead. After suffering through a cold stretch, the junior sharp-shooter sank seven shots from behind the arc in the Barbs' three games on Friday and Saturday.
“My shot's getting better because I've been struggling for these past few games,” Wogen said. “I've been really working on them in practice and I've been starting to hit them now.”
DeKalb stretched its lead to 12 in the third quarter, and six Barbs scored in the fourth to fight off a comeback bid from the Blue Thunder. Johnson and Wogen each finished with 11 points to lead DeKalb, Brittney Patrick had eight and Ashlei Lopez scored six.
“We're all tired, and we all stayed here for the whole day, so we just have to work harder,” Patrick said. “I think we're getting a little better. We worked more on man (defense) today, and we just did what we had to do.”
DeKalb finishes pool play on Monday at 1:30 against Stevenson, which beat Belvidere North 68-28 before notching a 48-28 win over Metea Valley on Saturday. The Barbs will then play Maine South at 7:30.
Davenport knows his players need to learn from a few rough stretches on Saturday if they want to compete with a couple of high-caliber opponents on Monday.
“We've just got to get mentally tougher,” Davenport said. “It was a long day, obviously in high school basketball you don't play two games in one day often, but that's not an excuse. You've got to keep fighting and you lose focus of what you've got to do. We get tired and lose focus of our job. It's mental fatigue is all it is.”
Other tournament scores: Oswego 42, Glenbard East 33; Maine South 47, Rock Island 45; Stevenson 68, Belvidere North 28; Rock Island 72, Oswego 42; Maine South 44, Glenbard East 39; Stevenson 48, Metea Valley 44