Boys basketball: Carter McCormick’s 18 points helps Sycamore drop Sandwich

Sycamore's Ben Larry breaks ahead of the Sandwich defense for a dunk during their game Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, in the Leland G. Strombom Holiday Tournament at Sycamore High School.

SYCAMORE – After four quick points to end the first half, Sycamore trimmed the Sandwich lead down to two points Friday at the Leland G. Strombom Boys Holiday Basketball Tournament.

But in barely a minute the Spartans exploded for eight points to retake a lead they’d never give back in a 58-46 win over the Indians.

“In the locker room we talked about how the first three minutes would dictate the rest of the game,” Sandwich coach Kevin Kozan said. “That’s kind of what happened. They came out with more energy and we fell flat a little bit.”

Sandwich (0-2) used a 13-5 run to go up 27-21 with 1:07 to go in the first half, with Chance Lange starting the run with a 3-pointer and ending it with a bucket. But Carter McCormick hit the fourth of his six 3-pointers, followed by a Ben Larry free throw after the buzzer sounded to cut the lead to 27-25 at the break.

Then the Spartans (1-1) exploded to start the third quarter, with Thatcher Friedrichs draining a 3-pointer, Jake Shipley slashing to the hoop for a layup and Preston Picolotti nailing a 3-pointer for a 35-27 lead with 6:57 left.

“If we come out with lower energy,” McCormick said, “then we lose that game.”

In the tournament opener Wednesday, the Spartans were down only 20-19 to Burlington Central but were outscored 14-3 in the third quarter.

On Friday they outscored the Indians 25-11 in the third, getting a pair of 3s by McCormick and Shipley in the final 20 seconds to take a 46-38 lead into the fourth, then adding a McCormick 3 to push the lead to double figures for the first time 15 seconds into the fourth.

“[Against Burlington Central] we were down one going into the half and they were kind of able to blow it open,” Sycamore coach Ethan Franklin said. “The guys made a great adjustment and we were right back into it.”

McCormick scored 18 for the Spartans, Shipley had 12 points and six rebounds and Michael Chami had six points and nine rebounds.

McCormick credited his teammates for his big game. He shot 6 for 11 from the field, all 3-pointers. He also had a rebound and a steal.

“He puts in work every day,” Franklin said. “He was here all summer and got shots up every single day. He didn’t think twice about any of the looks he had and we’re confident in him. We’re hoping for more nights like that.”

Lange led the Indians with 24 points. He added seven rebounds and three steals, while Dom Rome had 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals.

Kozan said he’s got a young team that’s still adjusting tot he speed of the varsity game.

“He’s a good player,” Kozan said of Lange. “He can really shoot the basketball. He plays his butt off every time on the floor. I love the kid and he played well. There’s some stuff we have to get better at, he has to trust his teammates a little more, but we’re getting there. He’s a good player.”

Sandwich will face Belvidere on Saturday while Sycamore wraps the tournament against Dundee-Crown.

The Spartans’ bench outscored the Indians 22-0, buoyed by McCormick’s performance. Sycamore was also without two players still recovering from injuries suffered during football season, Isaiah Feuerbach and Carter York.

Franklin, in his second year as head coach of the program, said he was glad to see the Spartans pick up their first win of the year.

“It’s very important to try to continue to establish the culture of winning and how we want to play,” Franklin said. “These are games that kind of show what we’re trying to do. We’re going to have to fight our way through a lot of these games. I’m proud of our guys.”

Eddie Carifio

Eddie Carifio

Daily Chronicle sports editor since 2014. NIU beat writer. DeKalb, Sycamore, Kaneland, Genoa-Kingston, Indian Creek, Hiawatha and Hinckley-Big Rock coverage as well.