DeKalb downs Neuqua Valley, wins outright DVC title
The Barbs are kings of the DuPage Valley Conference for the third straight year.
DeKalb battled down the stretch to take down Neuqua Valley, 54-48, for the outright conference championship. The Barbs were already guaranteed a piece of the championship.
"It was tough," DeKalb coach Mike Reynolds said. "I think we knew it would be tough. There's some really good teams in our league. Some leagues have some gimmies where you can beat them by 40 or 50 points, but not in our league. Every night it's a battle in our league and we were lucky to win eight of them."
The Barbs (22-9, 8-2 in DVC) took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter, but saw that lead evaporate with 1:42 left in the game. Wildcats' (18-10, 5-4) senior Jayden Dean nailed a shot to tie the game at 48.
"They just kept battling," Wildcats' coach Todd Sutton said. "We respect them. Their effort was great and there were a lot of situations that will help us in the postseason."
Dean led the Wildcats with 17 points in the game.
The Barbs' Lane McVicar responded with a string of big plays. McVicar dropped in a bucket with 1:05 remaining in the game to give the Barbs the 50-48 lead. Then after a missed free throw on the front end of a one-and-one, he skied for a rebound and drew a foul. He knocked in both free throws with 27.8 seconds left and then hit another pair with 15.1 seconds to seal the win and the conference championship for the Barbs.
"I had full confidence in them making those free throws and then if they didn't, I would've gotten the rebound, which is what I did," McVicar said. "I had full confidence in myself making those free throws."
McVicar had a game high 18 points, including nine of the Barbs 11 points in the fourth quarter.
The victory was extra sweet for Reynolds, who recorded his 400th career win.
"I'd like to get 401, to be honest, next week," Reynolds said. "I think it just means that you're old. We've had a lot of good players and good assistants. I'm lucky that I've been at three schools that have had really, really good players and that makes life a little easier."
The Barbs opened up the game in the third quarter behind junior guard Darrell Island, who scored nine straight points for the Barbs in the quarter.
"Darrell played extremely well," Reynolds said. "That was probably his best quarter all year. I don't know how many points he had, but when you're sharing the ball that's when you become hard to guard."
Island finished with 13 points in the game.
The Barbs outscored the Wildcats 15-6 coming out of halftime for their seven-point edge going into the final frame.
The Barbs thought they would be taking the lead into the half after McVicar drained a trey with eight seconds left in the half, but Dean threw up the Hail Mary from half court into the net for a 30-28 halftime lead.
Neither team could get an edge in the first half with the biggest lead for both teams being three points.