DIXON – It's not an excuse; it's fact. The Dixon Dukes are basically a sophomore team playing at the varsity level.
The Dukes are taking their lumps for now, including a 55-31 nonconference loss to Byron on Tuesday night at Lancaster Gym.
Dixon (3-16) started three sophomores and two freshmen, and nine of the 12 Dukes who played were freshmen and sophomores.
"It's good for us, because what happens in 2 years," said Dixon sophomore starter Matt Coffey, who scored six points. "As a sophomore team playing varsity right now, it's going to help us a ton in the long run."
Cal Jarrett, another sophomore starter who scored 14 points, doesn't want to wait.
"I get tired of looking ahead to the future," he said. "I want to be good now. The coming years are in the back of our minds. We just want to get better quicker."
Offensively, Dixon had trouble solving Byron's extended 1-3-1 zone. The Dukes settled for 22 3-pointers, making just four.
"The biggest thing right now is our confidence shooting the ball," Coffey said. "We were all hesitating. We just need to put it up there and have the confidence that it's going to go in."
"They were basically begging us to shoot," Jarrett said. "A lot of shots just weren't in rhythm. That leads to misses, especially for a young team like us."
Playing against Byron's 1-3-1 was far different than practicing against its simulation.
"We practiced against it," Dixon coach Jason Mead said. "It's just really hard for us to simulate their length. I basically played the top of the 1-3-1 in practice, and I'm slow and old. It's a different ballgame when you come out and play against kids 2 years older than you."
Defensively, the Dukes could not contain Tigers post Daniel Lowe, who went 12-for-13 from the floor en route to a 30-point performance. Byron (10-9) also got 11 points from Clayton Hoover.
Dixon had cut a nine-point deficit to three, 21-18, before going the final 5:08 of the first half and the first 2:42 of the second half without a point, as the Tigers built a 39-18 advantage.
Star of the game: Daniel Lowe, Byron, 30 points, 12-13 FGs
Key performers: Cal Jarrett, Dixon, 14 points, 5 rebounds; Clayton Hoover, Byron, 11 points
Up next: Dixon at Sterling, 7:30 p.m. Friday