BELVIDERE – It’s hard to find a better stretch of basketball than the one DeKalb played Monday night.
Trailing by six at halftime of the Class 4A Belvidere North Regional quarterfinal against the host Blue Thunder, the Barbs scored 30 points in the third quarter on their way to an 82-71 win.
“Halftime we’re sitting there, ‘Wow this could be the last game.’ We had to pick it up or else we could have been done,” DeKalb junior guard Jace Kitchen said. “Everyone realized that and we brought a lot of energy.”
The fourth-seeded Barbs (13-17) will play top-seeded Huntley in today’s semifinals. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
DeKalb ended the first half on a 5-0 run to cut the Belvidere North lead, which the Blue Thunder built on the strength of strong 3-point shooting. Belvidere North’s shooters caught fire in the first quarter, hitting four 3-pointers, and added another 3 in the second.
Barbs coach Dave Rohlman said his team was more aggressive on defense against the Blue Thunder sharp-shooters in the second half.
“I thought we were too far from those guys. Even though we talked about it the last couple of days, we still had guys that, when the ball went inside, would turn around and dig instead of cover up, so we couldn’t get back to the shooters in time,” Rohlman said. “We finally stopped moving from them and just went out and covered them. I thought we bothered the shooters a lot better.”
As DeKalb built the lead after halftime – a Kitchen 3 with about 10 seconds remaining in the third gave the Barbs a nine-point lead, DeKalb was able to move the ball around and find the open man. The Barbs’ held a comfortable lead throughout the final period.
“The extra pass,” Kitchen said. “We had the wide-open shooter, it was big,”
Kitchen had 21 points for DeKalb. Sophomore point guard Rudy Lopez led the Barbs with 23. The Barbs got plenty of production from their bench, with sophomore guard Michael Pollack finishing with 16 points and fellow sophomore Ethan Conroy adding 10. Senior guard Patrick Aves hit two big 3s in the second half and finished with six points.
“We flashed [Pollack] to the high post and he got a couple of real good looks there, which is a shot that’s certainly in his repertoire,” Rohlman said.