MAPLE PARK – The full gym was yelling as Eric Rosenow stepped to the line for a pair of free throws that would end up deciding the game for DeKalb against Kaneland.
While the noise came in from all angles, Rosenow said he felt like he was in an empty gym.
The DeKalb junior made both ends of the 1-and-1 with 9.1 seconds remaining for the final points Tuesday in the Barbs’ 64-63 win over Kaneland, their former conference foes.
“I wasn’t even thinking. I didn’t hear anything,” Rosenow said. “I was just by myself, shooting in a gym by myself. That’s all I thought about for those last two.”
The Barbs (17-7) led most of the second half, but Kaneland (20-5) took the lead on a layup by Troyer Carlson with 35 seconds left. The possession before, Johnny Henderson had a chance to extend the Barbs’ 62-61 lead but missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Davon Grant came up with the offensive rebound for the Barbs, but he fell in traffic and was called for a travel.
After Carlson’s layup, Rosenow came through with the free throws, then Gevon Grant missed a long jumper at the buzzer as time expired. The ball bounced around, but neither team got a firm grasp on the rebound, securing the win for the Barbs.
“I told them we just needed one rebound,” DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. “I don’t know that we ever got the rebound, but it bounced around long enough we were able to get out of here.”
Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said on the final possession the Knights were looking to get the ball into the paint, but the Barbs did a good job of taking that away.
“We wanted something going toward the hoop. It’s what we talked about,” Colombe said. “Gevon pulled up, he thought he was free. We want our guys aggressive. So if you’re going to make a mistake, make a mistake being aggressive.
“He had an open look, it didn’t go down. We’ll take our chances.”
Kaneland led by as many as nine in the first half and 27-26 at halftime, although Grant was scoreless. He ended up with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Carlson had a game-best 25 points.
The Barbs offense started rolling in the third quarter with freshman Davon Grant scoring eight points in the third quarter. But Kaneland still had a one-point lead when the quarter ended in a fast-paced eight minutes after the foul-plagued first half for both teams.
“Both teams were kind of scared of fouling, so there were a lot of easy finishes at the rim,” Reynolds said. “But I think getting the ball into Davon was a big portion of that third quarter. We needed to establish him so we weren’t so perimeter heavy, and he was able to make some big finishes.”
DeKalb took its biggest lead of the second half on a layup by Sean Reynolds with 1:35 left, 60-56. But it didn’t take Gevon Grant long to answer. Sean Reynolds hit a pair of free throws to stake DeKalb back to a two-possession advantage.
That’s when Kaneland made things interesting, with Gevon Grant getting two offensive rebounds in a row, putting back the second while getting fouled to cut the lead to 62-61. Then DeKalb missed the free throws down on the other end to set up the thrilling finish.
“It was a good battle and a really good test for us going into the end of the season,” Colombe said. “Obviously, we wish we would have hit a couple more shots down the stretch. You want to come out of here with wins, but tonight’s game, I think, we were just talking to the guys about it, we’re not down.
“That’s a good team, we think we’re a good team, and we want to use this game to help us down the stretch.”
Darrell Island led the Barbs with 24 points and added six rebounds, tied for the team lead with Davon Grant (13 points). Sean Reynolds and Jackson Kees each scored eight and Rosenow had seven.
Freddy Hassan had two blocks and 11 rebounds for the Knights, while Johnny Spallasso scored 11. Gevon Grant had eight rebounds.
“It was just a back-and-forth game,” Reynolds said. “We watch enough games and have seen enough film to know they’re really, really good. They’ve got a chance to make a deep run in 3A. This is the first time I’ve coached a game here, but it’s a tough place to play. I thought it was a great high school basketball game and one that needs to be played every year.”