SYCAMORE – Aidan Wyzard provided the defensive pressure, Carter York provided a pair of key 3-pointers, and the Sycamore boys basketball team erased a 12-point deficit against Rochelle for a 68-66 win Tuesday.
After scoring the first eight points, the Spartans (4-2 overall, 2-0 Interstate 8) fell behind by as many as 12 points in the third quarter.
“I think we just started to play calm,” York said. “We weren’t forcing any passes. We weren’t turning the ball over as much. We were getting easy, good shots every time.”
The Spartans trailed 45-33 in the third but used a 9-0 run later in the quarter to get back into the game. Both of Wyzard’s steals in the game came during that stretch, leading to baskets both times.
But they were not only the steals, Sycamore’s trap resulted in errant throws that changed possessions. Each team ran the trap, and each forced 18 turnovers. Sycamore committed just six in the second half.
Wyzard finished with a game-high 21 points off the bench.
“Aiden is a sparkplug. The dude is extremely fast, Division I speed,” Sycamore coach Ethan Franklin said. “He was able to take that game over on offense and defense. He had his defense create a lot of opportunities to score.
“I’m so proud of that kid, man. He really battled for us, and he really flipped the game.”
The Spartans briefly regained the lead at 55-54 with 4:40 left on a 3-pointer by Wyzard. Rochelle answered back with a 3-point play by Elijah Harley, who finished with 12.
Sycamore responded with a defensive stop sandwiched around a pair of 3-pointers by York, who had only scored four points in the first half but finished with 20.
“Those were huge,” York said. “I was very excited. I just saw the ball and knew I had to make these.”
Both shots came from the same spot on the floor, what Franklin called York’s spot. He said the team was trying to shoot fewer 3s and focus more on slashing to the bucket. Those were the only two long-range shots York attempted.
“He’s a competitor. He’s the leader of the group,” Franklin said. “We joke a lot that’s his corner. The fact he hit them from the same spot, it’s fitting for him.”
Sycamore was 4 for 10 from long range. The Spartans were forced to play smaller with Ben Larry missing most of the game. The 6-5 forward was “as a sick as a dog,” Franklin said, and tried to play, but didn’t make it out of the first quarter.
Rochelle outrebounded Sycamore 24-17 in the first half and 10-1 on the offensive glass. But the Hubs (1-5, 0-2) didn’t get an offensive rebound the rest of the game.
“They did a fantastic job crashing the glass,” Franklin said. “It was a huge problem for us. We knew that’s what they bring. They have a lot of size, a lot of fight on the glass. Ben being sick definitely didn’t help us, but we made a couple of adjustments and were able to clean it up a bit.”
Rochelle regained the lead at 62-61 with 2:38 left, but Preston Picolotti capped a 17-point performance with a layup not even 15 seconds later, and the Hubs never led again.
Michael Chami had seven rebounds for the Spartans to tie York for the team lead. Eli Luxton, a 6-5 senior guard, scored 20 and had 10 rebounds to lead the Hubs.
The Spartans will look to move to 3-0 in conference play Friday at home against Ottawa (2-3, 0-1).
“It’s a huge accomplishment for our guys and the program,” Franklin said. “We’re trying to make sure we’re in position to compete for the title, and in order to do that you have to protect your home court. We did a great job of finishing out to get that.”