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Barbs gelling before postseason

Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
DeKalb’s Jace Kitchen grabs a rebound in the second quarter Feb. 14 against Morris. The Barbs face Belvidere North at 7 p.m. today in an IHSA Class 4A Belvidere North Regional quarterfinal game.

DeKALB – DeKalb junior point guard Rudy Lopez thinks the Barbs have just started to gel in the second half of the season.

Lopez is the only player in DeKalb’s starting lineup who was a regular starter this season.

Naturally, it took some time for the team to get used to playing together.

“I knew later on we would gel together, because I played with these guys when we were younger,” Lopez said. “It was a little difficult at first but then we got the hang of it.”

DeKalb (12-17) heads into tonight’s IHSA Class 4A Belvidere North Regional as the No. 4 seed.

The Barbs will take on the fifth-seeded hosts at 7 p.m., with the winner taking on top-seeded Huntley at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Following a 6-13 start, the Barbs won six out of their final 10 games heading into regional competition.

DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman has settled on a starting lineup of Lopez playing the point, Patrick Aves and Jace Kitchen on the wings and Dre Brown and Luke Davis III at the forward spots. The Barbs also consistently play nine to 10 guys and have gotten help from players like Micah Fagerstrom, Ethan Conroy and Michael Pollack.

“In the games we’ve been successful, I think our resevers have played well since Christmas time,” Rohlman said. “At least since the Martin Luther King Tournament (in Rockton) in January.”

Aves was a varsity player last season, but Davis, Kitchen and Brown are getting their first varsity experience. Rohlman said Brown is playing basketball for the first time since middle school. But Rohlman added that Brown has been a good surprise this season, while Kitchen, a junior, has been shooting the ball well late in the season.

“First half of the season we were kind of new with each other with a couple younger kids coming up,” Kitchen said. “The older kids, we haven’t really played together so this is the first time. So after you get a half season under, you kind of figure out who can do what and it’s just helpful.”

The one mainstay from a year ago, Lopez, has shown some maturity from his sophomore season a year ago, according to Rohlman. He’ll be an important Cog for the Barbs if they want to make a run at Belvidere North.

“He’s got a year under his belt. He’s got a lot more guys to play with this year. I think that takes some pressure off him,” Rohlman said. “There are times he can score and there are times where he can run the offense and just lead the team.”

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