DeKALB – Just a few weeks ago, the DeKalb boys basketball team was riding a three-game losing streak to start the Northern Illinois Big 12 East season, and the young Barbs looked like they might need another year to contend with the conference’s best.
Now, they’re right up with the conference’s premier teams.
While they couldn’t extend their five-game winning streak in a 50-47 loss to Morris on Friday, the Barbs hung right with the conference leaders on Friday and even had a chance to take the lead.
“We played well, but we should have beaten that team,” junior Rudy Lopez said. “[The progression] shows. We were on a losing streak for awhile, then we got on this five-game winning streak … We’ve played good defense, we’ve run the offense really well. But obviously we didn’t get the victory.”
Even though they had a chance to beat Morris (15-5, 6-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East), coach Dave Rohlman didn’t think the Barbs played up to the standard they’ve set over the last few weeks.
The Barbs (11-14, 3-4 NI Big 12 East) have stormed through the latter part of the conference schedule, beating Kaneland and Sycamore, which is otherwise undefeated in the conference, before topping Galesburg on Sunday. But after Dre Brown scored the first eight DeKalb points to give the Barbs an 8-2 lead on Friday, Rohlman didn’t think the Barbs passed the ball inside nearly enough, and Morris went on a 14-3 run.
“We did not throw the ball to [center] Luke Davis in the first half at all,” Rohlman said. “That’s obviously a conscious effort every game, and I didn’t think our offense functioned from inside-out. Early on, we made the extra pass, and Dre Brown gets four baskets early in the first quarter. We were sharing the basketball, but the ball is designed to go inside, and I just didn’t think we got it inside.”
Lopez scored a game-high 16 points, driving to the basket several times to score when the DeKalb offense stalled. The Barbs were down one with the ball with 10 seconds left, but they turned the ball over before Morris hit two free throws.
DeKalb missed a half-court shot and a 3-pointer with time running out, ending their longest winning streak of the season.
A few weeks ago, the Barbs’ conference title hopes were non-existent, but with a win on Friday, the previously unthinkable could have become much more realistic.
After the loss put them three games behind Morris and Sycamore, the Barbs will have to settle for merely peaking at the right time as they finish out the final four games of the season.
“This isn’t going to define us,” Rohlman said. “We’re playing very well and we’ve made great strides forward. This is a little setback, I don’t think this is a monster setback, and we’ll get after it tomorrow and Monday in practice, then we have Yorkville on Tuesday. That’s what we talked about, is being ready for Tuesday night, and we’ll take the things that we didn’t do well here and make sure to improve them before the playoffs.”