Boys basketball: Davon Grant steal, dunk spark key DeKalb run in regional title game

Barbs advance to sectional for 2nd time in past 3 years

DeKalb's Davon Grant (23) gets past Auburn's Brian Harper (0) and makes a basket during the reginal title game on Friday Feb. 23, 2024, held at DeKalb High School.

DeKALB – Rockford Auburn stormed back from 18 points down, and DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said the Barbs appeared to be running out of gas in the championship game of the Class 4A DeKalb Regional on Friday.

But midway through the third quarter, Davon Grant intercepted an inbounds pass and slammed down an emphatic dunk on the other end. That kicked off a decisive run for the Barbs in a 70-59 win over the Knights.

“Moments like those we need, especially after they get a big run like that,” Grant said.

DeKalb (23-7) led 29-11 early in the second quarter, but Auburn (20-12) rolled off 13 straight points to cut the lead to five. In that stretch, DeKalb was struggling to even find a shot after finding success getting the ball inside to Grant, who finished with 24 points.

But Sean Reynolds hit in the closing seconds to push the lead to 31-24 at the break. The lead remained between six and nine points until Grant’s steal and dunk with three minutes left made it 42-33. The Barbs scored the next seven, and thanks to an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer by Reynolds, they led 56-37 at the end of the third.

“Davon, perfect scouting by coach [Chris] Davenport, stole that inbounds pass, dunked it,” DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. “I think that sparked us again to give us a little more energy. I’m just so proud of these guys.”

The Barbs’ lead never shrank back to single digits the rest of the game.

Last year, the high-seeded Barbs dropped a double-overtime regional final game to Hampshire, ending what they had hoped would have been a longer postseason journey. This year, they’ll get their second trip to a sectional in the past three seasons, meeting up with state-ranked Gurnee Warren in the Guilford Sectional.

“We definitely worked our butts off for this, just to come back and get into this spot,” Sean Reynolds said. “Last year we folded in double overtime, but this one feels really good, a lot of emotions.”

The Barbs turned the ball over 17 times in the win, including seven in the second quarter. Mike Reynolds said the high energy of the press started to take its toll on the Barbs, who used a seven-player rotation in the game.

“I thought we got tired, to be honest,” Mike Reynolds said. “They wore us down. And we uncharacteristically turned the ball over. And against them, they go lay it in when you turn it over.”

Sean Reynolds drained five 3-pointers in the game and finished with 20 points. Grant had a game-high nine rebounds, while Justin O’Neal grabbed seven off the DeKalb bench to go with six points. Eric Rosenow scored nine for DeKalb and Jackson Kees had eight.

Rakim Chaney and Amir Danforth each scored 19 for the Knights, with Champ Parker adding six rebounds and eight points.

Grant said once the Barbs figured out the press, it was “game over” for the Knights.

“We turned it over during that stretch, we didn’t get many shots, and when they started pressuring us we couldn’t get the ball moving,” Sean Reynolds said. “We knew in the second half we had to come out like we did in the first quarter, and that’s how we won the game.”

Have a Question about this article?