Girls Basketball: Slow start leads to loss against Sycamore

Junior Alivia Henkel drives against Sycamore's Evyn Carrier during the Rochelle Lady Hub varsity basketball team's game against the Spartans on Wednesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Darby leads Rochelle with 12 points in 55-35 defeat

ROCHELLE — A crushing run during the first quarter was all the Sycamore Spartans needed to create early distance from the Rochelle Lady Hubs varsity basketball team during Wednesday evening’s Interstate 8 Conference contest. Despite a second-quarter rally led by sophomore Kendyl Darby, Rochelle was unable to overcome the first-quarter hole, ultimately falling 55-35.

Sycamore’s combination of full-court pressure on defense and 3-point shooting from the corners ignited a 16-2 run that gave the Spartans command early in the game. Sycamore guards Sophia Klacik and Lexi Carlsen each converted two triples in the first quarter, where the Spartans earned a 21-6 lead entering the second quarter, where the tempo began shifting toward the Lady Hubs, who moved to a zone and showed quick hands to force turnovers by Sycamore.

“We talked during practice about not starting out flat against this team because we knew if that happened, we would be in a hole just like that,” head coach Ryan McQuade said. “I thought our girls showed resilience during the second quarter and we were able to bring them within six points. They were able to make one more run after that and I thought we took a few plays off. What we discussed at halftime is that we can’t take plays off against a team of that caliber.”

With Rochelle needing an offensive spark, Darby found her shooting rhythm from range, hitting two 3-pointers and making a pair of tough shots around the rim including a reverse layup and a short runner from the baseline. Darby scored 10 of her 12 points during the second quarter, where a late run from the Spartans elevated Sycamore’s lead to 36-20 at the halftime buzzer.

“Kendyl’s still a very young player, but I think she’s definitely started coming into her own over our last few games including our win over Kaneland,” McQuade said. “I don’t think she knows how good she can be. Our challenge now is figuring out how we can unleash that on every single play. She’s shown flashes at times and I’m looking forward to seeing it more consistently.”

Carlsen commanded the Sycamore offense, finishing with a team-high 17 points and dishing out several assists to teammates including Monroe McGhee, who sank three layups in the third quarter and finished with 12 points for the Spartans. Sycamore led 50-27 entering the fourth quarter, where 6-foot-4 forward Evyn Carrier sank a triple and a putback shot to cap off a 10-point outing. Junior Alivia Henkel had eight points for Rochelle (6-18, 4-5 Interstate 8).

“I thought we controlled the pace of the game when we made our run during the second quarter,” McQuade said. “They dictated play early on and I thought we ran into a wall in that we were unable to get defensive rebounds, which led to them taking a 16-point lead at halftime.”