DeKALB — It’s not just the two freshmen and two sophomore starters for the DeKalb girls basketball team, or the sophomore off the bench in key minutes.
Even the coach is a freshman of sorts, with first-year coach Brad Bjelk taking over the program.
Missing their only senior starter on Saturday, the Barbs fell 48-27 to Hinsdale Central in the first of two games at the DeKalb MLK Shootout.
“We’re all going through growing pains. As a first-year coach, I’m going through growing pains,” Bjelk said. “We’re just looking to get better. We’re all gaining experience, and we’re all going to learn from it and improve from it.”
The offense struggled from the start. No starter scored more than three points, and senior Ariana Smith led the Barbs off the bench with eight points, with sophomore Krystal Baggett adding five. Sophomore Ella Russell had four steals for the Barbs, who committed 22 turnovers.
The Red Devils (6-14) jumped out to a 19-4 lead after one quarter and never led by less than 10 again. Although the Barbs didn’t allow a field goal in the final 5:54 of the first half, Hinsdale Central still took a 26-14 lead into intermission.
“Offensively we didn’t have a lot kind of clicking,” Bjelk said. “It’s just one of those days, I guess., but we’ve been working hard trying to improve our fundamentals to help with our offensive execution really. We got another game [Saturday], hopefully it will be a better showing.”
The Red Devils also dominated 36-15 on the boards and had a 14-6 edge on the offensive glass. Freshman Alicia Johnson had a team-best four rebounds.
The Barbs were without senior post and leading scorer and rebounder Kailey Proter, but Bjelk said he didn’t think that had an effect on the loss.
“We’ve got a deep team, we’ve got a lot of hard-working players,” Bjelk said. “We can certainly overcome her missing a game.”
The Barbs take a two-game losing streak into their final game of the shootout, 4:30 p.m. Saturday against Dundee-Crown (4-13).
While Bjelk said he liked the team’s effort at times against Hinsdale Central, he said they’ll need a strong effort to avoid a three-game losing streak.
“We lost a tough game to Neuqua, and now we lost this tough game to Hinsdale,” Bjelk said. “That’s two in a row. You don’t want to make it three in a row. Hopefully we get it going tonight and get back on the winning track.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle