DeKalb dumps Neuqua Valley to stay unbeaten on season
Just a few seconds before the end of the first quarter Monday, DeKalb junior guard Tyler Westberg quickly hoisted up a deep 3-pointer.
Westberg's rainbow 3 swished through the net, ending a near perfect first-quarter effort for the Barbs.
For the Barbs, in a season of perfection and big wins, it was another opportunity to showcase the program's best boys basketball team in 20 years.
And the Barbs certainly put on a show against Neuqua Valley, a former nemesis in the Upstate Eight Conference.
Westberg canned six 3-pointers to spark the Barbs to a 69-48 rout over the Wildcats.
In a four-day span, the Barbs earned impressive wins over Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley to remain unbeaten on the season and in first place in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Westberg put on a shooting clinic in the victory, hitting 3s from all over the court to finish with 22 points. Lane McVicar scored 20 points and Trenton Kyler had 19. The Barbs made 12 3-pointers.
"It felt good because I had a little off start to the season, but I'm starting to get a hang of things in my first varsity season," Westberg said. "We're just trying to take every game for itself, and go 1-0. We have shooters everywhere, just try to give whoever is hot the ball."
The 6-foot-5 McVicar, a South Elgin transfer, said the Barbs are the best team he's played on in his career. McVicar, like Westberg, downplayed the Barbs attempting to finish the season undefeated, but joked that the Barbs "are enjoying it and about to go get some ice cream right now."
"Everyone knows Tyler is a knockdown shooter," McVicar said. "When I came here, I never expected to be around such a great group of guys."
The Wildcats (9-4, 4-4) were hampered from the outset, with the program's all-time leading scorer, John Poulakidas, sitting out the home finale. The Yale recruit is sidelined with an undisclosed sickness.
Neuqua Valley senior forward Connor Davis had a superb performance in his final home game, leading all scorers with 25 points.
With the win, the Barbs (17-0, 9-0) solidified their best season in 20 years, when Erik Jaske, Justin Diedrich, Jestin Anderson, Chad Pecka and John and Tom Battista formed one of the best teams in program history. Twenty years ago, the Barbs won their first Upstate Eight title in 33 years.
The Barbs, led by a strong collective effort and the hot shooting of Westberg, raced out to a 22-2 lead. The Wildcats fell behind 10-0 and didn't score their first points until Nick Porter's basket with 2:53 left in the first quarter.
Entering the game, the Barbs were one of seven teams in the Chicago area with an undefeated record that included more than eight wins. Only Rockford Lutheran (14-0), Glenbard West (13-0), Rolling Meadows (12-0), Young (11-0), Hillcrest (10-0) and Brother Rice (10-0) have at least 10 wins, with the Barbs leading the pack with the most wins.
The Barbs, unlike Rolling Meadows, Young, Hillcrest and Glenbard West, don't rely on a superstar player to carry the scoring load. The Barbs had four different scorers that accounted for their first 10 points against Neuqua Valley.
"We have five guys that can score," DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. "Back in my early days of coaching, I was winning 32-29, but now we're trying to score 80. It's little different. Our guys share the ball."
Connor Davis was a one-man show in the second half, scoring 4 straight points, including a coast-to-coast layup, to chop the deficit to 41-26 midway through the third. A few minutes later, Davis added two more consecutive field goals to lower the margin to 44-33 with just under two minutes left.
Westberg, one of the best shooters in the conference, drilled two straight 3s to pad the lead to 57-40 early in the fourth.
"We were just playing today like we usually play," Westberg said.