DeKALB – After losing a 17-point lead to the Sycamore Spartans last year, it was a different blown lead that DeKalb boys basketball coach Mike Reynolds was thinking about heading to halftime up by 16 Friday night at the Convocation Center.
“I was thinking about Wednesday night when we blew a 15-point lead with six minutes to go,” Reynolds said, referring to the Barbs’ three-point loss to Naperville Central.
This time, the Barbs’ lead would last. DeKalb defeated Sycamore, 47-30, to recapture the First National Challenge trophy.
“We have to play with pace,” Reynolds said. “I thought we looked a little bit tired in the second half, probably could have subbed a little more. I thought our guys would rise to the challenge and they did.”
DeKalb pulled ahead by outscoring Sycamore 17-5 in the second quarter. Barbs senior guard Tyler Westberg had eight points in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“The difference was the second quarter,” Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. “We dug ourselves too far of a hole there, and the rest of the game we were pretty much even. They started putting the ball in [senior guard Lane] McVicar’s hand, and they started finding guys who were making their shots, and that was pretty much the difference in that second quarter.”
The win means a step forward for the Barbs from the loss last year to Sycamore that dashed DeKalb’s perfect season, as well as the Naperville Central game Wednesday.
“We didn’t handle the adversity well [last year],” Westberg said. “I knew we had a shot because we worked so hard in practice, and I didn’t think too much about it.”
Spartans senior guard Brody Armstrong scored all of Sycamore’s field goals in the first quarter, totaling eight points. The Barbs led at the end of the first quarter, 14-10.
With Sycamore’s defense zoning in on McVicar, open opportunities were aplenty in the second quarter for Westberg. McVicar finished with eight points.
For the Spartans, turnovers forced an unbalanced offensive attack. The Spartans’ offense remained a one-man show, with senior forward Sam Stoner accounting for nine straight points from the start of the second quarter until late in the third through the third.
“A little bit of it was turnovers,” Stacy said. “Some of it was live-ball turnovers where guys were able to go and get it back in transition. Offensively, we had some good looks that didn’t go in and then we just tried to play too one-on-one and didn’t wait until we got good shots.”
Freshman guard Sean Reynolds added a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to make it 31-15 at halftime.
While the 3-point shot wasn’t as effective in the second half, Westberg added another late in the fourth to end his night.
“They’re our shooters,” Mike Reynolds said. “Tyler was hot, Sean hit a couple shots. They were both missing some in the second half, but Tyler hit a big one to put it away.
The low-scoring third quarter was highlighted by a dunk from DeKalb junior guard Darrell Island. Island finished the game with seven points.
Armstrong willed the Spartans to match the Barbs’ fourth-quarter points, finishing with a team-high 13 points before the final horn sounded.
DeKalb moves to 17-8 with a road trip to Naperville North coming up Monday. Sycamore falls to 12-10, facing LaSalle-Peru on Tuesday at home.