June 09, 2023
Sports - DeKalb County

Sports - DeKalb County

Kabba, Bulldogs run over Sycamore

BATAVIA — As the final minutes ran off the clock Friday night, Sycamore senior star Tom Hensley sat on the sidelines with his shoes off, ripping the tape off his ankle.

For three quarters, Hensley had sucked up the pain, hobbling from place to place after an early-game injury. But as the Spartans let another second-half lead slip away, there was nothing else the senior safety could do in the Spartans’ 47-22 loss at Batavia.

“We’ve played really good halfs of games,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “We talk about playing 48 minutes, but maybe our math isn’t too good.”

For four straight weeks, Sycamore (3-4, 1-4 Western Sun) has either been tied or held a lead in the second half. But for the fourth straight week, they came away with a loss.

Over that stretch the Spartans have allowed a combined 165 points, averaging giving up 41.3 points per game.

“We’ve been playing some good teams,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to get stops and you’ve got to fight your guts out.”

The Spartans biggest problem Friday was trying to stop Batavia’s (5-2, 4-1 WSC) Bai Kabba, who ran for a school-record 321 yards on 20 carries with four touchdowns. Three of those runs were longer than 70 yards.

“We had to keep him contained because we don’t have anyone as fast as him,” Ryan said. “There were times we would have him pinned in, but once he would get out we didn’t have anyone to catch him.”

The only thing that stopped Kabba was an injury with 10 minutes left in the game. Kabba hit his head on the ground, took three steps towards the huddle and then fell down on the ground.

“He got dinged up a little bit and we just wanted to keep him out to be safe,” Batavia coach Mike Gaspari said. “He hit his head on the ground, but the trainer checked him out and he was okay.”

Sycamore made several big stops, including when Marckie Hayes tackled Kabba for a 9-yard loss on a play that began on the 2-yard line just before the half. That stop kept the Bulldogs from scoring.

Another time, Sycamore linebacker Cody Bex ran up to Batavia running back Evan Olexa and ripped the ball out of his hands for a turnover.

But those big plays weren’t enough to stop the Bulldogs for good as they scored the final 26 points of the game after Sycamore took a 22-21 early third-quarter lead.

“There were some times we played really good defense,” Ryan said. “It’s just that we had too many mental lapses.”

Sycamore’s offense was able to move the ball well until the final quarter.

Quarterback Michael Buckner was 14-for-28 for 241 yards and a touchdown while running back Joe Dougherty ran for 95 yards and a touchdown against his former school.

But the offense once again wasn’t the problem as the Spartans couldn’t stop Batavia’s offense late in the game.

The Spartans will need to win their final two games to have a shot at making the playoffs. They will start that quest when they host Yorkville next Friday before heading to Glenbard South to close the regular season on Oct. 24.

Jon Styf

Jon Styf

Jon is the Senior News Editor of the Shaw Media Local News Network and the Editor of the Northwest Herald. He was previously the editor of The Herald-News in Joliet and Morris and a sports editor for Shaw Media at the Northwest Herald and Daily Chronicle.