When Dundee-Crown went on a run in the deciding game of the first DeKalb girls basketball shootout last weekend, Sycamore girls basketball coach Adam Wickness saw his team respond in the way he’d hoped, as the Spartans claimed a 38-33 victory to win the tournament Saturday.
Wickness said Dundee-Crown went on a run by employing effective pick-and-roll looks on offense, but the Spartans adjusted to shut down the Chargers. Wickness was encouraged to see the defensive adjustments given the little time the current roster has had to work on pick-and-roll defense in the offseason.
“I was really impressed with how they responded,” Wickness said.
That they did so without two-time defending area girls basketball player of the year Kylie Feuerbach was another point that reflected the depth of the roster.
The Spartans, after going through pool play an undefeated 3-0 against Minooka, Prairie Ridge and Lockport, beat Hononegah (44-37) and then Dundee-Crown to win the tournament.
Coach Wickness expects to play between 20-25 games this summer, with two games a week guaranteed in Geneva’s summer league.
He made note of the play of rising sophomores Ella Shipley, JaKiya Thompson and Faith Feuerbach. Sycamore also was without varsity starter from last season Faith Klemm for Saturday, meaning even more young and less experienced varsity players had to step in for the semis and finals.
Rising freshman Evyn Carrier, a 6-foot-3 forward, stepped in and saw significant time, while others, such as rising sophomore guards Jessie Campbell and Ainsley Pettit contributed.
“We’ll probably be deeper than we’ve ever been, at least in the time I’ve been here,” Wickness said.
Rising sophomore Ella Shipley, impressed not only her coach, but also wowed Barbs coach Tyler Bantz, who noted how improved she looked.
Bantz was pleased with the level of competition, just as he was excited for the turnout at the event.
“We had to order some extra pizzas a couple times,” Bantz said.
The Barbs are playing at programs like Neuqua Valley, East Aurora, McHenry and Ottawa this summer, and Bantz said he expects plenty of Class 4A competition at each of the first three of those schools.
“I like hosting stuff here. We have our MLK shootout here. I was just talking to our AD [Peter Goff] ... he suggested maybe even doing a summer league, just because we have the facilities,” Bantz said. “It’s easier for our girls to get here, and we might as well use the facilities that we have, maybe make a bit of money for our program going forward.”
The Barbs lost their three pool games Friday before splitting Saturday, defeating Ottawa, 27-25, and falling to Marian, 27-26.
“We’re missing a couple players from last year that got good minutes just due to some personal stuff. On Saturday, we had three different freshmen play with us. At Neuqua (Monday), we’ll have three or four different freshmen playing with us.”
With several main varsity returners from last year’s team back, Bantz is looking toward several players to provide much of the punch through the summer.
“Obviously, we have returners like Ashley [Nelson], Flo[rence Omodayo], and Sanaa [Finner] and those girls. It’s a good mix,” Bantz said.
Scheduling tough summer competition has been a point of emphasis for the Barbs, who will begin their first season in the DuPuge Valley Conference against much larger schools than the schedule provided by the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference.
“We don’t take it easy on ourselves over the summer, that’s for sure, especially going into the new conference,” Bantz said.