The first three or four minutes of Tuesday’s night game against Neuqua Valley weren’t the best, DeKalb boys basketball coach Mike Reynolds said, and neither were the last three or four minutes.
But in the middle, he said, was a dominant performance in a 62-50 win against the Wildcats, including a 36-8 run from the first to third quarters.
“In between [the first and last three to four minutes], we were pretty good,” Reynolds said. “We’re not asking our guys to be perfect. We’re just asking them to stay engaged.”
It also was a big night for Trenton Kyler, who reached the 1,000-point mark for his career with a 33-point game, needing 32 entering the night.
He hit the milestone at the free-throw line with 2:23 left. pushing the DeKalb lead to 60-44 by making both. He had missed a free throw earlier in the quarter that would have given him 1,000.
Kyler with a vicious block pic.twitter.com/k7olpHWrsD— Edward Carifio (@DDCEddieCarifio) February 24, 2021
“It was the most nervous I’ve ever been at the free-throw line,” Kyler said with a chuckle. “But just to be here and do it at DeKalb – I wouldn’t want to go to any other school.”
Neuqua Valley’s John Poulakidas was coming off a milestone game, becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer. The Yale commit scored seven points in the first 3 minutes of the game but finished with 11.
Winters smothers Poulakidas, which DeKalb converts into a Kyler 3-pointer pic.twitter.com/lSNCsu30Jj— Edward Carifio (@DDCEddieCarifio) February 24, 2021
The Wildcats (3-3, 1-3 DVC) raced out to a 14-7 lead, including two 3-pointers, but didn’t make another 3 for the rest of the game.
“I think we went 2 1/2 quarters and had eight points,” Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton said. “Let’s just say very inefficient on offense.”
About what wasn’t working for Poulakadis, Sutton said “he just played bad.”
Poulakidas turns a steal into a loooooooong 3 pic.twitter.com/12FHdT2ZtE— Edward Carifio (@DDCEddieCarifio) February 24, 2021
Sutton said a lot of things cost the Wildcats in the loss.
“Poor passing, poor catching, poor screening, not getting open, forcing a lot of bad shots,” Sutton said. “That’s why we shot 30% in the first half. A lot of bad shots.”
Kyler gave the Barbs (10-0, 4-0) the lead by draining 3s on three consecutive possessions in the first quarter, part of him scoring 17 straight DeKalb points as the lead extended to 28-20 DeKalb by the end of that run on the way to as much as 23 in the fourth quarter.
Kyler drains a 3. Assist Jackson after he drew a crowd on the drive pic.twitter.com/r5VYYmye9y— Edward Carifio (@DDCEddieCarifio) February 24, 2021
Kyler said reaching the milestone was on his mind as well as his teammates’.
“First off, my teammates got me the ball, and before the game they were like, ‘We’re going to get you this, we’re going to get you this,’ ” Kyler said. “I just went with the flow, and I knew it was possible. There’s a lot of games I had at this point up there in the 30-point range. I knew it was definitely possible.”
Jamarcus Winters handled most of the defense on Poulkadis, with Kyler rotating in to help or spelling him.
“Jamarcus plays hard every time,” Reynolds said. “Defense isn’t a lot about talent or technique, it’s pretty much about being tough and trying to make them shoot tough shots. Jamarcus and TK rotated on him early too, and those guys were very aggressive and I thought it was a good physical game.”
By the numbers: Connor Davis led the Wildcats with 15 points and five rebounds. Winters had 11 points for the Barbs, and Lance Mcvicar added nine points and seven rebounds. Martez Jackson had nine rebounds, three steals and six assists.
Beyond the stats: Kyler’s miss on his first free-throw attempt to hit 1,000 career points was his only miss of the night from the line.
They said it: “It’s not only a longevity thing, but you have to be awful good to do it,” Reynolds said. “Poulkadis just became their all-time leading scorer with 1,200 or something. You can see the level of player that gets 1,000 points.”
Up next: On Friday, the Barbs are at Metea Valley, while the Wildcats visit Naperville North.