The biggest reason Sycamore has gotten off to a 14-5 start and has a Northern Illinois Big 12 East title in its sights is the play of junior Bailey Gilbert. One of the biggest improvements for Gilbert, a 2013 Daily Chronicle first-team all-area selection, has been her 3-point shooting.
Gilbert, who averages 17 points per game, is shooting a whopping 44 percent from beyond the arc.
"It's her consistency from the 3-point line and her ability to get to the free-throw line," Sycamore coach Brett Goff said. "She wasn't getting those easy points last year from the free-throw-line."
When Gilbert does get to the line, she's shooting nearly 80 percent, according to Goff, and her mid-range game has also improved.
"She's really a triple threat now," Goff said.
DeKalb MLK Tourney could get bigger: The DeKalb Martin Luther King Tournament ended with a three-way tie, and Maine South won the title based on free-throw percentage.
In the future, the tournament may not come down to tiebreakers. DeKalb coach Chris Davenport said the hope is to get the tournament to 16 teams and use a bracket format, with the school's fieldhouse being utilized.
This year's field had eight teams, and Davenport said there were schools who wanted to be included but were already committed to nonconference games.
"I don't think we're going to have a problem doing it," Davenport said. "We might even get to the point where we tell people they can't come."
Maine South coach Mark Smith hadn't been to the new DeKalb High, and was impressed by the facility.
"When we got the offer to come out here, the opportunity to come, we jumped at it," he said. "Outside of it being finals week for our girls it's been a good tournament for us."
H-BR starting to click: It's been an up-and-down year for Hinckley-Big Rock, who sat at 11-11 heading into Thursday's Little Ten Tournament semifinal against Serena.
However, the Royals played a tough nonconference schedule and had won four games in a row heading into Thursday.
H-BR hosts a regional that's very winnable, and Greg Burks hopes his team will have some momentum come postseason time. The Royals have won seven consecutive regional championships.
"In the last couple years, we've been that team that if a favored team saw that they could match up against us, hopefully they were looking at it and not looking forward to playing us," Burks said. "Hopefully, year in and year out you can be that team. You can be a team that plays a disciplined-enough and solid-enough game that a more talented team doesn't want to play you."
VIEWS: Should be an exciting postseason in DeKalb County
Outside of Hinckley-Big Rock's run to a Class 1A sectional final, there wasn't much to write home about for the area's girls basketball teams last February.
Not counting H-BR, area teams won only three games last postseason as most programs headed home early.
This year, I don't see that being the case, as a number of teams post solid chances to take home regional championships.
Let's start with Class 1A, where Indian Creek should go into the Earlville Regional as a favorite. The IHSA split up the T'wolves and H-BR, who met for a regional championship last season, and the Royals have an excellent shot at winning their own regional this year. A regional crown would be the Royals' eighth straight.
The area's most impressive team so far this year has been Sycamore, and the Spartans should have the top seed at the Class 3A Plano Regional. DeKalb may be the area's most talented team, yet the Barbs may have the toughest time getting a regional plaque due to the fact they are in the same regional with Huntley in Class 4A.
But, DeKalb certainly has a shot against the Red Raiders.
All in all, there won't be too many early exits for area teams this season.
Instead, we should see a few more teams cutting down the nets.
• Steve Nitz is a sports reporter for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SNitz_DDC.
SPOTLIGHT ON ...
DeKalb, junior, forward
Johnson was named to the all-tournament team at DeKalb's MLK Tournament.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Sycamore at Kaneland, 5:30 p.m. today
Spartans control their own destiny in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East, and look to remain unbeaten in league play.
Indian Creek at Serena, 6:45 p.m. Thursday
Timberwolves face a tough test to close out Little Ten play.
1. Sycamore (14-5, 5-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East)
Spartans with two league games before showdown with DeKalb at the Convo.
2. DeKalb (16-7, 5-1 NI Big 12 East)
Barbs had a strong showing at their MLK Tournament.
3. Kaneland (9-11, 2-2 NI Big 12 East)
Knights can cause some havoc in the NI Big 12 East with a win over Sycamore Friday.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (11-12, 5-2 Little Ten Conference)
Tough nonconference schedule has helped the Royals in LTC play.
5. Indian Creek (12-10, 5-2 LTC)
Timberwolves with a good shot to win the Earlville Regional in February.
6. Genoa-Kingston (5-13, 1-5 Big Northern East)
Cogs have struggled in conference play.
7. Hiawatha (2-13, 0-5 LTC)
Hawks fell to Paw Paw in LTC Tournament play-in game.