There is just simply no substitute for experience and with 10 seniors on the roster, including all five starters, Sycamore has plenty of it.
That experience came to the forefront on Friday in the fourth quarter of the Genoa-Kingston Class 3A regional championship game as the top-seeded Spartans (22-7) pulled out a 59-56 win over second-seeded Wheaton Academy. It's the second straight regional title for the Spartans, who advance to the Hampshire sectional on Wednesday.
Senior Nicolas Feuerbach hit two clutch three pointers in the final quarter and the Spartans hit all eight of their free throw attempts to finish a perfect 16-of-16 from the charity stripe in the game.
"I can't say enough about our senior leadership," said Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy. "Most of these guys were on the team last year and it even goes back to football - they are use to being in these pressure situations. They just stepped and made the plays in that final quarter."
The game was tied 45-45 at the start of the fourth quarter before Feuerbach put the Spartans on top with a three pointer. He hit another three later in the quarter that extended Sycamore's lead to 53-47.
"We have a lot of guys who made big shots tonight," said Feuerbach. "Mine just so happen to come in the fourth quarter. We know what it is like to be in these type of games, so we were able to stay calm and collected."
Devin Motlet led the Spartans with 16 points, including four free throws down the stretch to help secure the win.
"This is awesome to be able to win a second straight regional title," said Motlet. "Our experience really came through for us tonight. We've been in a lot of close games and we pulled together again tonight."
The Spartan's defense held Wheaton Academy to just 4-of-14 shooting in the fourth quarter and only one three pointer after the Warriors had knocked down nine treys through the first three quarters.
"Getting those defensive stops really turned the game in our favor," said Stacy. "That along with the threes by Nic and the free throws were huge."
Josh Ruggles had tied the game at 45-45 for Wheaton Academy (20-9) with a three pointer at the end of the third quarter. A driving layup by Chris Johnson with 3:28 left in the game pulled the Warriors to within 48-47, but they came up empty the next four trips down the floor.
Ruggles and Gordon Behr had 16 points each to lead the Warriors in scoring.
"It was one of those games you knew would come down to who made the plays and got the breaks at the end," said Wheaton Academy coach Pete Froedden. "And it just went their way."