MAPLE PARK – The DeKalb boys basketball team’s first win since late December did more than spoil Kaneland’s senior night.
The Barbs’ 50-45 victory Friday also prevented Kaneland from clinching a slice of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East Division crown.
A Knights win would have guaranteed at least a tie for first place.
“That’s the best four quarters of basketball we played all year,” DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman said. “We haven’t won since the 28th of December. We played some good stretches in that time but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Knights started the fourth quarter down 38-33. They cut the Barbs’ lead to 43-41 halfway through the quarter but were unable to take the lead.
“It was really frustrating,” said Kaneland’s Dan Miller, who led all scorers with 17 points. “It seemed like we would get within two points every possession and then they would go down and get a bucket.”
A Miller layup with less than a minute to go returned DeKalb’s margin to two, 47-45.
The Knights immediately fouled Andre Harris on the Barbs’ next possession.
Kaneland senior Matt Limbrunner grabbed the rebound when Harris failed to connect on his free throw.
Kaneland held the ball until the clocked ticked down to 13.1 seconds but failed to score as a layup attempt rimmed out and DeKalb (5-19, 3-5 NI Big 12 East) grabbed the rebound.
The Knights regained possession with 10.6 seconds to go and trailing by three after Harris sank a free throw.
The Barbs’ defense forced a Kaneland turnover to seal the victory.
“At the end, we had a couple of decent looks and couldn’t tie the game,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. “Our boys played hard. They were just not able to execute on the offensive end of the floor.”
Poor shooting plagued Kaneland (13-8, 6-2 NI Big 12 East) in the first half.
The Knights held a 17-16 lead at the half despite going 4 for 21 from floor.
“We had good shots – they just wouldn’t fall,” Johnson said “That was the story for us the entire game.”
Rohlman credited his defense for the victory, especially Pat Aves’ guarding of Drew David. The junior guard did not score for Kaneland.
“You got to look at the way Pat Aves guarded Drew David. I thought he played phenomenal defense on him tonight,” Rohlman said.
John Pruett scored 16 points for the Knights, who have conference games remaining at Morris and at Rochelle. Kaneland has lost two straight games after winning seven in a row beforehand.
Rudy Lopez scored 12 points for DeKalb. Teammate Jake Carpenter had 10 points.