Ben Larry, Sycamore surge past Genoa-Kingston – Shaw Local

GENOA – Sycamore was leading wire-to-wire Wednesday at Genoa-Kingston, but it was a dominant third quarter that iced the Spartans’ 68-45 nonconference win against the Cogs.

Sycamore (12-17) and 6-foot-5 forward Ben Larry found ways to get inside against the zone of Genoa-Kingston (10-20), outscoring the Cogs 22-9 in the third. Larry had 11 of those points, including a dunk on an alley-oop from Jakob Shipley.

“We just started passing the ball more, moving it fast because it is a 2-3 zone,” Larry said. “We found the way to move the ball, looked down middle and we got points.”

The slam came in the middle of a 13-0 run to close out the quarter. The Cogs had gotten the Sycamore lead, as big as 16 in the second quarter, down to 30-23 after a John Krueger layup. But it barely took the Spartans 10 seconds to answer back with a Larry layup, kicking off a 7-0 run.

G-K put up the next five to get to within 39-28, including a 3-pointer from Hayden Hodgson, but a 3-pointer by Preston Picolotti started the decisive run.

Genoa-Kingston coach Griffin McNeal said his team was a little flatter in the zone than usual.

“They got a couple easy shots, then too many easy touches,” McNeal said. “We’re playing zone, but we can’t give up touches five feet from the basket. [Larry is] a good player. Catches the ball 5 feet from the basket, he’s going to do some damage.”

Larry led all scorers with 17 points and had a game-high seven rebounds. Shipley added 10 points, five rebounds and three steals for the Spartans.

The victory was the first against G-K for second-year Sycamore coach Ethan Franklin, who was the head coach of the Cogs before taking the Sycamore job. The Cogs won in Sycamore last year, and this year was Franklin’s first time on the visitor’s side in Genoa.

“It was weird,” Franklin said. “I’ve been back for a few volleyball games to support all the people I had in class and friends at the school. It’s good to come out with a win. Last year didn’t go our way at Sycamore, so to be able to come back and get this one here was nice. And having family and friends and being able to see a lot of people I was really, really close with here was nice. Wish everybody the best.”

The Spartans end the regular season Friday against Kaneland. The Knights won the first meeting between the teams this season in January, 68-43.

Franklin said it’s been an up-and-down season for the Spartans, and if they play as they did against the Cogs they can have a better result against the Knights and into the postseason. They face Woodstock North in a Class 3A Belvidere North Regional semifinal Feb. 21.

“It’s tough with us because sometimes we find stretches where we look really good like here, and in other games that we’ve held it together in,” Franklin said. “Then we’ve had other times where we find these ruts and these lulls. It’s my job to find ways to fix that. Ultimately we have to be more consistent. If we have that same effort we had in that third quarter … we’re going to be a really tough team to beat in regionals.”

The Cogs went with a different starting lineup on senior night, rolling with five seniors who don’t usually start. Each of them – Dakota Dynek, Ryder Eastbrooks, Landen Ritchie, Connor Lehay and Terrell Marshall – ended up scoring in the game.

Hayden Hodgson led the Cogs with 11 points and seven rebounds, with Dynek scoring six.

It was the Cogs’ final game of the regular season. They’ll open postseason play at home Monday against Marengo, with the winner facing Johnsburg on Wednesday. The Cogs haven’t won a game in Genoa this season.

“We’ve won some neutral site games and some away games, done decent there,” McNeal said. “But we’re looking to win our first home game. So I mean, that would be a good time to do it.”


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