MAPLE PARK – With a definite size advantage against injury-depleted Kaneland, the DeKalb boys basketball team looked to feed the ball inside.
Foul trouble might have derailed that plan for a short while in the first half, but the Barbs scored 15 of the first 18 points in the game, shot 68 percent from the field for the game, and beat the Knights 57-36 to snap a three-game losing streak.
“Driving was a main message,” said DeKalb guard Michael Mitchell, who made all six of his two-points shots and was 2 for 4 from 3-point range, finishing with a game-high 19 points. “We’ve been struggling shooting lately, so it was like drive, drive, drive. Don’t force anything. Take what they give you.”
The game started with the Barbs (13-6, 5-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) feeding the ball inside to 6-foot-6 forward Darvon Sisson against a Kaneland team that started four players 5-9 or shorter. The Knights (4-15, 1-4) were without leading scorer Blake Feiza (6-foot-3), as well as 6-1 Jack Douglas.
Sisson made his first three shots, but picked up two fouls in the first quarter, as did Marcus Bobo. Instead of building on the 15-3 lead after the first quarter, the Barbs committed turnovers on their first two possessions in the second, leading to five Kaneland points. The Barbs’ lead hovered between nine and 14 points until they closed the game on a 12-0 run.
Sisson stayed out of foul trouble in the second half, shot 8 of 10 from the floor, and finished with 16 points and a game-high six rebounds.
The Barbs also finished with a 25-12 edge on the boards. The Knights had only six rebounds through the first three quarters.
“We played really hard, but we don’t have anybody to keep anybody off the boards,” Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said. “It came down to rebounds, and we don’t have anybody to rebound the basketball. ... They’re big, and we’re 5-8.”
Dan Franck scored nine points for the Knights.
Rhett Espe scored nine off the bench, and Jake Hed chipped in eight for Kaneland.
It was the ninth straight loss for Kaneland, which shot 33 percent from the floor.
Conroy said the Knights alternated between man and zone defense in an effort to keep the Barbs off balance.
“I thought switching the defensive looks was giving DeKalb some trouble,” Conroy said. “I thought we did what we wanted. We did a good job attacking in the first half, but in the second half, they ended with four fouls. We stopped attacking. We didn’t keep doing the things we needed to do.”
The Knights were set to travel to Morris on Jan. 24, and more gritty efforts like the one they had against DeKalb could end up leading to better results.
“Joe’s kids always play hard,” DeKalb head coach Al Biancalana said. “They kept coming back and coming back and coming back.”