On a night Batavia looked a little sluggish and flat-footed, junior Elliot Vaughn gave everyone a reason to get off their feet.
Vaughn's first career dunk brought the biggest roar of the night while also highlighting his 15-point, 10-rebound effort in the Bulldogs' 65-54 victory over Sycamore.
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The Bulldogs (9-4, 3-2) won despite struggling to keep Sycamore (7-7, 1-3) off the glass. The Spartans' Sam Ford repeatedly burned Batavia for second-chance points, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
"They really scrapped and beat us to a lot of loose basketballs," Batavia coach Jim Roberts said. "I thought we were fortunate tonight."
Batavia led 30-23 at halftime after 4 ties and 4 lead changes in the first half. Jesse Coffey's 3-pointer with 2 seconds left gave the Bulldogs their 7-point halftime lead.
Sycamore never got within one possession in the second half. The Bulldogs always did just enough to keep the Spartans in a hole, though Batavia was never able to deliver a knockout punch.
"We just got a little lazy (on the defensive boards)," Vaughn said. "Once halftime was over I think we came out with more energy, rebounded a little better."
Ford's stickback trimmed Batavia's lead to 53-48 with 4:34 left, the closest Sycamore got in the fourth quarter. Vaughn answered with his own putback, Sam Shump drove for a basket, then Shump fed Vaughn for the 6-foot-6 junior's one-handed slam.
"It was very exciting," Vaughn said. "Sam got a great pass to me and one thing led to another and I just put it down."
Kyle Schroeder also gave Batavia a lift with 5 straight points in the third quarter that opened up 41-30 lead.
Ricky Clopton led Batavia with 21 points, scoring 9 of the team's first 11 points. Coffey made all 4 of his free throws and 3 of 4 3-pointers for 15 points while adding 4 steals.
"Kyle Schroeder gave us great energy and hit some shots," Roberts said. "I thought Elliot was very active on the glass. He's doing a good job taking up space and he's active.
"We fought through some things tonight. They hung in there and beat a scrappy team and we're going to have to play better."
Batavia shot well, sinking 21 of 40 from the field. But losing the rebounding battle and getting beat to a few loose balls left coaches and players alike knowing they need to pick up their play heading into a key Western Sun game Friday at Kaneland (9-2, 3-1).
"We have a lot of work to do throughout this week. We should pick it up a little more on defense and loose balls and such. We have a little work to do before Kaneland," said Vaughn, who will join teammates Levi Maxey, Cole Gardner and company fighting Dave Dudzinski for rebounds.
"I am looking forward to it. I looked forward to playing (DeKalb's Jordan) Threloff and all the big guys in conference."