Waubonsie Valley suffers first defeat
Waubonsie Valley clawed its way back into a key early-season DuPage Valley Conference battle with DeKalb on Friday night, getting to within a point after what had been an 8-point lead for the Barbs in the fourth quarter.
But Zach Russell stemmed the Warriors onslaught with a 3-pointer. Then after Marcus Skeete responded with a three-point play of his own as part of a monster night, Daniel Brown made a couple key plays before Russell sealed the 66-57 win for the Barbs at the free-throw line.
"They were clawing back, we were up 5, they came back, we hit that big 3," Russell said. "That just kind of flipped the switch for us."
Russell had just 5 points at the half but finished with 16, including going 8 for 8 from the line, all in the fourth quarter. His 3 staked the Barbs (6-3, 2-0) to a 56-52 lead with 1:40 left -- their first two-possession lead since a 9-0 run for the Warriors (7-1, 2-1) erased a 48-40 DeKalb lead early in the fourth.
"There's the key -- not to fold," DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. "We had a tendency early in the year, Oswego made some good plays against us and we couldn't match them. And we were able to match them tonight and make the free throws. They hurt us a little in the third quarter when we couldn't get a rebound, and Skeete, who's a really good player, was able to get some and-1s in there. But we were able to clean up the glass and it was good see."
Skeete, who finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, answered with a three-point play of his own.
"He's a player and he comes ready to play every day," Waubonsie coach Jason Mead said. "I thought he played very hard and did a nice job. But the bottom line is it's a team game and we didn't come out ready to play, ready for their pressure like we talked about in practice, and they earned the win. They got what they deserved, and we also got what we deserved today."
The Barbs responded quickly with a layup by Brown with 1:15 to extend the lead to 58-55, then Adri Malushi missed a 3-pointer for Waubonsie.
Russell hit six of his free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
"It was just relax and take a deep breath," Russell said. "I practice that every day. It's just automatic to me."
Brown and Jamarcus Winters each scored 12 off the bench for the Barbs, with Brown adding 5 rebounds.
Winters sparked a second-quarter rally for the Barbs, who trailed 19-11 early in the second. But Winters hit three 3s in a four-minute stretch, plus had a steal and a couple deflections on defense. DeKalb went into halftime up 27-26 after Russell's first 3-pointer of the game at the buzzer. It was their first lead since 2-0.
"Jamarcus kind of gave us a spark in the second quarter and life," Reynolds said. "I was happy for him because he's struggled here a little the last couple games. ... He's a really good shooter and a really good offensive player. We've been harping on his defense, and I think his defense was exceptional tonight."