Boys basketball: DeKalb jumps to early lead, tops Sycamore in rivalry showdown

DeKalb fans cheer on their team during the First National Challenge Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at The Convocation Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

DeKALB – DeKalb jumped out to an early lead over Sycamore and won the First National Challenge’s boys basketball game 67-41 Friday night at the NIU Convocation Center.

The Barbs started quickly behind their scoring depth, with six players hitting at least one shot in the first quarter. They took an 18-9 lead into the second quarter.

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of guys that can score,” DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. “They’re not going to get the amount of shots that Darrell [Island], Sean [Reynolds] or Davon [Grant] get. But when they do, they make the most of their opportunities.”

The Spartans struggled to find the bottom of the basket in the second quarter. The Spartans sank only two baskets in the quarter, both 3-pointers.

DeKalb had no such offensive issues, running its lead to 32-15 at the half.

“We had a lot of opportunities early that we didn’t convert,” Sycamore coach Ethan Franklin said. “They’re a good team. They’re defending regional champions for a reason. If you don’t convert opportunities, then they’ll make you pay. They did a good job of that.”

The Spartans came out firing in the second half, opening up with an 8-0 run, with big scores by Lucas Winburn and Jaxon Tierney.

“We just kinda had to calm down and play our game, not let them speed us up,” Winburn said. “We had to get the shots we wanted to get and not quick, bad shots.”

Winburn paced the Spartans with 18 points, while Tierney added nine.

After the Barbs called a timeout, Island sank two shots to put the Barbs back on track. Island finished with 10 points.

In the fourth quarter, it turned into the Sean Reynolds show, as the Barbs sophomore scored 14 points to seal the game. Reynolds put up nine straight points for the Barbs in two minutes, then later knocked down a trey that sent all the back-ups in to close out the game.

“I had open looks,” Reynolds said. “They were running me off the line, so I had to attack. I just tried to score the ball. It feels good when I’m hitting shots. My teammates have full confidence in me taking shots.”

Reynolds led all scorers with 21 points.