In a single game against Sycamore last year, the DeKalb boys basketball team not only lost its season finale, but a 17-point lead, an undefeated season, and a 10-game winning streak in the series.
The teams meet for the first time since then Friday at the NIU Convocation Center.
“It was the last game of the season and the only loss we had last year,” said Lane McVicar, who leads the Barbs in scoring this season. “That hurt us badly. It was against our rivals, as well, and we hadn’t lost to them in eight years or something like that. It stays with us, it stays with the graduating seniors. We have to do it for them.”
The Barbs enter the game 16-8 after a loss Wednesday against Naperville Central. The Spartans are 12-9 after beating Dixon on Tuesday.
In the March meeting between the two teams in Sycamore in a season shortened by COVID-19 restrictions, the Barbs led 30-13 in the first half. By the end of three, the game was tied at 38, thanks to a layup by Xavier Gagnepain.
A junior last year, Gagnepain has missed both this football and basketball season because of injury.
“We don’t have to worry about Xavier this year because of his injury. Prayers up to him,” McVicar said. “We just have to maintain the lead, play more defense, play more physical and pass the ball more on offense. Last year I think we had 30-something turnovers. It was really bad.”
Gagnepain started the fourth with two layups, giving the Spartans the lead for good.
“It’s exactly what a loss should do,” coach Mike Reynolds said. “It wasn’t a state tournament loss, obviously. I thought we would have made a good run in that. But we lost our last game. And it didn’t feel real good. We gave all the credit to them. We blame ourselves for not playing at the level we’re capable of, and we’ll see if we can change that this year.”
Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said both teams are vastly different from last season. Because of that, he doesn’t feel last year’s game has an effect on this year’s.
He said playing for bragging rights is what everyone cares about, given the proximity of the two towns.
“I don’t think of it that way,” Stacy said. “When you talk about that losing streak, these guys were not a part of it for the last X-number of years. They are part of it this year, and the seniors are part of it for the last two years. What happens in the past doesn’t have any relevancy on the game here.”
Reynolds said his team needs to come out with a lot of intensity. Stacy said he expects that, and his players know they have to match it.
“Obviously, they’re playing really well,” Stacy said. “I think McVicar is someone that is a matchup problem because of his size and how he can score so many different ways. They have a lot of weapons around him, too. They have some youth, as well, guys stepping up and playing well.”