SYCAMORE – The Sycamore boys basketball team pushed up a big lead, but had to hold on to beat the Kaneland Knights 72-62 at home.
“All conference wins are nice,” Sycamore coach Ryan Picolotti said. “We haven’t been at home for a long time, so it was nice to be at home on our court with our crowd. You got to win them at home.”
The Spartans clung to a six-point lead after Kaneland’s Wyatt Peeler hit a three-pointer with 2:11 left in the game.
The Spartans then clamped down on defense and didn’t allow another point until the game was out of reach.
Grant McConkey hit three of four free throws down the stretch and stole a pass on the inbound pass after his last made free throw to ice the game with 45 seconds left.
“It’s pretty nerve wracking, but you just keep taking them and eventually they go in,” McConkey said. “It feels good, especially playing them the second time. It shows we’ve gotten better.”
McConkey led all scorers with 23 points.
After McConkey’s only free throw miss with 55 seconds left in the game, Kaneland boxed out the Spartans, but didn’t grab the ball. Jackson Johnson grabbed the ball for the Spartans on a high bounce and passed it to McConkey. McConkey was fouled and hit both his free throws.
The Spartans (8-11, 3-4 in Northern Illinois Big 12) had an 11-point lead at half time and a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter, but Kaneland put a big run together at the end of the third quarter.
Kaneland (5-18, 1-6) scored nine points in the last two minutes to cut the Spartan lead to six points, including a buzzer beater by Ben Durbala.
“Once we got a little feisty than we were able to come back,” Kaneland coach Russ Zick said. “I’m always proud of the kids because they always seem to have that fight in them.”
Sycamore built their lead in the second quarter by outscoring Kaneland 14-3 to close out the half ahead 36-25.
By the numbers: For Sycamore, Johnson had 13 points and Jason Hayes added 10 points. For Kaneland, Peeler led the team with 15 points and Will Cushman put in 12 points.
Beyond the stats: Kaneland is in the midst of a five game losing streak.
They said it: “We’ve had a lot of these lately,” Zick said. “We lost by three the other day and four the day before. We just got to turn the corner sometime.”
Up next: Sycamore travels to Woodstock North on Saturday at 6 p.m. Kaneland will host LaSalle-Peru on Tuesday at 7 p.m.