The Kaneland boys basketball is seeking a second consecutive conference championship.
But visiting DeKalb, which had not won this calendar year, truly upset the apple cart for the Knights' repeat bid in the Northern Illinois Big XII East Friday night.
The Barbs hit 8 of 14 third-quarter shots, more than doubling their first-half output in the process, and never relinquished an 8-point lead to start the final quarter in denying the Knights 50-45 in Maple Park.
Kaneland had a pair of possessions in the final minute to possibly force overtime -- or even win with a 3-pointer -- but the Barbs' Jake Carpenter and Rudy Lopez collaborated on an out-of-bounds play with 10 seconds to play to seal the victory.
"That's the best four quarters of basketball we have played the whole season," DeKalb coach David Rohlman said. "We didn't win (a game) the whole month of January. We haven't won since the 28th of December. (But) we didn't point any fingers (tonight), which you tend to do when you're 4-20."
Kaneland (13-8, 6-2), pending the Sycamore outcome, maintains a one-game lead with two to play in the conference.
The Barbs (5-20, 3-5) were able to maintain the lead throughout the fourth quarter, but not before the Knights' Dan Miller made several key plays.
The senior not only led all players with 17 points; Miller also made it a one-possession game on three separate occasions in the last 3:44 as he scored the final 6 points for Kaneland.
"It was very frustrating," Miller said. "It seemed like we would cut (the Barbs' lead) to two points, and they would get a basket (on their ensuing possession)."
Lopez and Carpenter each made clutch field goals for DeKalb after Miller personally reduced its lead to 43-41 and 45-43 in the waning moments.
Kaneland had a chance to tie the game in the final half-minute, but its driving attempt misfired.
Andre Harris' split free throws with 13.1 seconds remaining upped the Barbs' spread to 48-45, but, after Kaneland rebounded the second attempt, the ball was returned to DeKalb when a trapped Knight stepped on the baseline.
It could not have been a more inglorious start for the Knights.
The first quarter was a nightmare for both teams as DeKalb took the football-like score of 7-3 after the opening eight minutes.
The two teams were a combined 3-for-20 to start the game.
"We couldn't make shots," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. "That's the story for us the entire game. We were getting good looks. We just have to fight hard for all of our baskets."
The other primary issue for Kaneland was its two-sided offensive attack.
Miller and John Pruett (16 points) combined to score 33 of the Knights' 45 points; the other six players to see action were a combined 5-for-28 in the game.
"We were running our plays (in the first half, which ended with Kaneland nursing a 17-16 lead), but we couldn't put the ball in the basket," Miller said.
Lopez scored a team-high 12 points for DeKalb.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.