Boys basketball: Sycamore dominates Morris to snap six-game skid

Sycamore coach Ethan Franklin draws up a play during a timeout during the Spartans' 59-33 win against Morris on Friday, February 3, 2023.

SYCAMORE — Entering Friday on a six-game losing streak and having trouble closing out games all season, the Sycamore boys basketball team led wire-to-wire for a 59-33 win against Morris.

The win was not only a rematch of a 39-36 Sycamore win back in December, but senior night for three Spartans.

“A lot of times this year we kind of get up a lot and then just slow down,” said senior Lucas Winburn, who had 10 points and four steals. “Tonight we kept the foot on the gas and kept the momentum going to get the win.”

The Spartans (9-17, 4-8 Interstate 8) built a 22-5 lead early and led Morris (8-19, 4-7) 45-18 early in the fourth quarter.

Morris rattled off five straight points, but Sycamore answered with seven quick points, including a 3-pointer by senior Sean Kelly that caused the gym to erupt. Kelly, who hasn’t had much playing time this year, started Friday along with Winburn and Jaxon Tierney.

“I love those guys,” Winburn said. “I’m glad we all got a chance to put some points on the board and have our own great games. I’m glad I got to spend it with them.”

Tierney had nine points and four rebounds in the win. Kelly had the three points and also grabbed a pair of rebounds.

The Sycamore lead peaked at 29 in the fourth as the Spartans snapped their skid.

“It’s very refreshing for what we’ve been through over the last few weeks,” first-year coach Ethan Franklin said. “It’s a very sophomore-dominated team. These guys have had a lot of growing pains and we’ve done it all together. The fact we were able to have a nice one like this to send our seniors off was a nice situation for us.”

Jack Wheeler led Morris with nine points while Jonah Williams had a game-high five rebounds. Even before the benches emptied late in the fourth, both teams were using 10-player rotations.

Morris coach Joe Blumberg said while he feels Kaneland (22-5, 12-0 after a win against Plano Friday) is the best team in the league, he feels Sycamore is the most athletic.

“To match their athleticism, we needed to play a heck of a lot harder and together and to execute better,” Blumberg said. “We didn’t defend drives, we didn’t defend the arc. We didn’t box out, we didn’t defend them in translation. We were down [22-5] and you can’t do that on somebody’s senior night on the road and expect to recover.”

Last time around, Blumberg said both teams were still coming off of long football campaigns, and Morris was better able to control the tempo. This time around, Sycamore was able to play much faster, he said.

“In mid-December honestly it was two sets of football kids who didn’t have their basketball legs yet,” Blumberg said. “We muddied it up and it was a half-court game and both teams struggled to score. They clearly have their basketball legs. We do too, we’re much better than we played tonight, which is what’s frustrating.”

Sycamore was outscoring Morris 10-5 in the fourth before the benches emptied out, and Franklin said he was glad the Spartans played strong from wire to wire.

“We’ve been struggling late, having trouble finishing out games,” Franklin said. “As of late we’ve had a lot of close ones that haven’t gone our way. I feel like we were kind of due for one. The kids played hard and followed everything we were looking to do. And the balls bounced our way. It was nice.”

With the postseason starting later this month, Franklin said it was good to see his team improve and put together a complete game.

“Coming off a six-game losing streak we want to make sure we’re playing our best basketball at the right time,” Franklin said. “Whenever those brackets come out, everybody is 0-0. So we just want to be playing well in two weeks and this is a good start for us.”