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Boys Basketball - page 4

Christmas Classic begins with minor holiday hangup

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Photo: Senior Tyler Carlson had averaged 16.5 points per game at the 2014 Plano Christmas
Classic. The Knights lost their first game last week, but won three straight to place ninth in the tournament. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knights get back on track against Genoa-Kingston, Mendota
PLANO—For one to survive and advance in the historic setting of Plano Christmas Classic, in its 51st year, a team has to get off on the right foot.

In the tournament opener on Dec. 26, the No. 4 seed Knights boys basketball team (7-3) suffered a 57-50 loss to the No. 13 seed Newark Norsemen of the Little Ten Conference.

The Knights then battled No. 5 seed Genoa-Kingston, which had lost to No. 12 Aurora Christian in yet another minor upset, on Friday afternoon, ending in a 52-40 comeback win.

After Friday’s result, the Knights battled Mendota on Saturday and eked their way to a 65-64 win.

Kaneland then defeated Dixon to claim ninth place on Monday. In 2012, Kaneland finished in fourth place overall, and won it all in 2009, its first year back to the tournament after holiday stops in DeKalb and Marengo.

Against the perennial small-school powerhouse Newark on Thursday morning, the Knights were led by guard Tyler Carlson with 15 points and forward John Pruett with 14. Backcourt general Drew David had 11 points to supplant the effort.

For Newark, the brother combination of Jack Clausel (19 points) and Will Clausel (16 points) made life difficult for the Knights on the heels of holiday celebration.

Kaneland was 23-for-65 from the field during the loss, including a mediocre 9-for-33 in the second half.

The Knights led 16-10 after the first eight minutes of play, and fell victim to an offensive barrage from the Little Ten stalwart, trailing 31-29 at the halftime horn. Newark powered through even more in the third frame and took a 43-35 lead before Kaneland closed the margin slightly in the loss.

On Friday in action against the Cogs, Carlson had 15 points, while David and Pruett each supplied 12. KHS was 20-for-53 from the field and 17-for-24 from the foul line. G-K was led by Tommy Lucca’s 13.

Two three-pointers by David and a keen bucket down low from Pruett helped give Kaneland an early 12-6 lead in the first quarter, but a free throw and three-pointer closed it on G-K’s end to 12-10 by the end of the frame.

Connor Fedderly hit a three to break a tie and make it 15-12 with 5:25 left in the half, breaking a five-minute scoring drought. G-K then converted on five consecutive shot opportunities and led 22-20 with 1:01 remaining. The Cogs then hit the back end of a pair of free throws to go up 23-20 at halftime.

The third-quarter tide turned fairly quickly when Pruett’s bucket, David’s try and Ryan David’s basket gave Kaneland a 27-23 lead just 1:10 into the frame.

Carlson put in a putback for a 31-25 lead with 2:05 to go before G-K made its only field goal of the quarter, a trifecta, to close within 31-28 with 1:28 to go before Pruett’s free throw pair with 38.4 to go stretched the lead before the buzzer at 33-28.

The fast-break tempo that Kaneland used to its benefit soon gave way to ball control, peppered by a three-pointer and putback by Carlson and a basket by Cole Carlson to make it 40-28 with 6:07 to go. KHS made 10-of-12 foul shots down the stretch to get the lead to much as 13 at 48-35 with 1:07 to go.

David and crew noticed the difference in on-court performance.

“We made good plays, it gave us one-on-one momentum,” David said. “We come into each game, you don’t really have time to change things too much. But when you get on the floor, you definitely have to adjust.”

After the loss to Newark, the G-K game was a little more like it.

“We need to be more fundamentally sound because of the way we played yesterday, we turned the ball over a lot. I thought the kids did a good jonb handling pressure in the second half and handling the ball in the fourth quarter. They extended the lead and held it toward the end,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.

Against the Mendota Trojans, the Knights found themselves down 27-12 after one, and 45-35 at the half buzzer before turning on the comeback afterburners and closing to within 53-46 after three and outscoring the Trojans 19-11 in the fourth.

The Knights were paced by Ryan David’s 16, Drew David’s 15 and Tyler Carlson’s 12.

The Trojans were led by James Carroll with 28 points, 24 hours after setting a tournament record with 42 points in over Forreston.

Monday had Kaneland scheduled to face Dixon in the tournament finale for the Knights with ninth place on the line. The Knights never trailed after a 12-5 opening quarter. Tyler Carlson’s 19 points and Pruett’s 17 points let KHS. Ryan david had 8 points over NIB-12 west team.

On Saturday, Jan. 4, the Knights begin the second half of their schedule with a trip to the United Center in Chicago for the first time since February 2010, against Geneva at 2 p.m.

Editor note: This story has been updated from the originally published version with information from Monday’s game vs. Dixon at the Plano Christmas Classic.

Dec. 31 sports recap

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Sophomore Boys BBall
Dec. 23 at Plano Classic vs. Streator—The Knights opened up play at the Plano Christmas Classic Dec. 23 with a blowout win over NIB-12 crossover foe Streator 62-33. Jake Marczuk led the way with 13 points, while Tanner Robertson and Mark Lilly each had 12. Jacob Violett had eight points, Connor Peterson and Brett Hansen each had five points and Andy Delgado had three points.
Dec. 27 at Plano Classic vs. Morris—KHS defeated Morris 57-53 in the second round of play at the Plano Christmas Classic. Marczuk had 23 points for the Knights, while Lilly had eight points, Kevin Fajardo had seven points, Robertsen had six points, Jason Edwards and Joe Laudonteach had four points and Violett had three points.
Dec. 28 at Plano Classic vs. Princeton—The Knights squeaked their way into the Plano Christmas Classic championship game with a 51-50 win over Princeton. Lilly had 22 points, while Violett had nine and Robertsen and Marczuck each had eight. The Knights were 8-1 heading into Monday’s championship game vs. Genoa-Kingston. Results of that game were not available at press time.

Sophomore Girls BBall
Dec. 26 at Batavia Tourney vs. York—The Lady Knights fell to York 36-23 to open up play at the Batavia tournament. Meg Cohrs led KHS with six points, while Nicole Koczka and Kristen Siebert each had five points. Jenna Harvell had four points and Madi Edwards had three points.
Dec. 26 at Batavia Tourney vs. Geneva—KHS fell to Geneva Thursday afternoon 39-35. Cohrs and Seibert each had 12 points in the loss. Kylie Modaff had four points and Hollie Fedderly had three points. Geneva defeated the Lady Knights by 26 points earlier in the season.
Dec. 27 at Batavia Tourney vs. Bartlett—Friday saw the Lady Knights fall to Bartlett 43-25. Modaff led the team with eight points, while Cohrs and Koczka each had seven. Kiandra Powell had three points.
Dec. 28 at Batavia Tourney vs. Lake Park—KHS got into the win column at the Batavia Tournament, winning 55-42 over Lake Park. Three Lady Knights scored 10 points: Edwards, Koczka and Modaff. Cohrs and Powell each had eight points while Fedderly had four. The KHS sophomore girls team is now 7-7 on the season.

Follow the Knights at the Plano Christmas Classic

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PLANO—The Kaneland boys basketball team will take on the field at the 51st Annual Plano Christmas Classic this week.

The varsity Knights enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed, and while the tournament started Monday, the Knights’ seed earned them a bye. Their first contest will be Thursday at 10:30 a.m. vs. the winner of No. 13 Newark and Hinckley-Big Rock. The sophomores played Streator Monday, and will face either Mendota or Morris, depending on Monday’s outcome.

To follow the Knights as they take on the talented field, visit RockCreekBall.com and follow the link to the 2013 Christmas Classic. There you’ll find updated stats and brackets for the varsity and sophomore levels.

Air supply

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Photo: Junior Ben Barnes scored a team-high 16 points in Kaneland’s 83-63 rout of Rochelle Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Knight boys hoops runs wild on rival Hubs
KANELAND—Five players managing a double-figure night should be a harbinger of good things for one’s basketball lineup.

In the case of Kaneland, it meant terrible things for visiting Rochelle last Friday night.

With a strong output from personnel like John Pruett (14 points) and Tyler Carlson (11 points), along with 16 from reserve Ben Barnes, 14 from Dylan Vaca and 10 from sub Ryan David, the Knights flew to an 83-63 win over the Hubs.

Kaneland’s first challenge of the week, coupled with Tuesday’s 63-38 win against Hinckley-Big Rock, raised its record to 4-2, and 1-1 in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

KHS held firm in the victory despite being trumped in foul line opportunities by a 26-12 margin.

“The goal was to keep (Rochelle) to one shot so we could keep it and run,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I thought we did a good job with that. Our three-point shot wasn’t falling, and you have to make them work on defense and tire them out, and we beat them on transition.”

Kaneland stormed out to a 7-0 lead just 2:10 into the contest until Rochelle solidified and used three three-pointers to go up 11-10 with 2:49 left in the quarter. A basket by Drew David, a reverse layup by Carlson and a bucket by Ryan David set Kaneland back on top 16-11 with 1:47 to play in the frame. Later, a putback and foul converted by Carlson and a putback by Barnes with 44.5 to go closed the scoring at 22-13 for the first quarter.

Shots by Drew David, and a foul shot coupled by a steal and hoop from Ryan David, completed a 13-6 run for a 29-19 lead with 5:31 left in the half. A short flurry by Rochelle closed the margin to 33-27 with 2:48 remaining before two Vaca foul shots and a Vaca hoop brought the lead to eight. Two Carlson foul shots and a Hub foul try closed the scoring at 39-31 before the buzzer.

The third quarter represented a pleasant turn of events for the hosts, as Ryan David, Carlson, Vaca and Pruett were responsible for six successful shots in a row en route to a 51-33 lead after a 12-2 run with 4:22 to go in the frame.

Cole Carlson’s bucket with 52.5 left in the third gave KHS a 60-39 lead before the Hubs scored the last five points of the quarter.

Barnes and Vaca alternated fast break buckets to score the first eight points of the frame and seal the Friday contest. A Connor Fedderly three try with 4:24 to go gave the Kaneland unit its biggest lead of the contest at 75-50.

“We just try to get it and run; that worked in the first half and we tried it again, and we had some key stops on defense,” Tyler Carlson said.

With Carlson and the upperclassmen tasked with a laundry list of duties, the routine is continuing to sink in on the floor.

“So far I think we’re alright, we’re trying to fill in the leadership role. Drew is doing a great job and he’s a four-year starter. John and I are just trying to get that leadership role down,” Carlson said.

At Hinckley-Big Rock, the Knights stormed to a 12-2 lead after the first quarter and didn’t look back. John Pruett led the team with 16 points, and Tyler Carlson 15 points. Vaca had 14 points.

The boys don’t suit up until Thursday, Dec. 26, when they begin their fourth stay at the Plano Christmas Classic, which is entering its 51st year. Kaneland enters as the No. 4 seed and is scheduled to battle either No. 13 Newark or Hinckley-Big Rock at 10:30 a.m.

Dec. 19 sports recap

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JV Bowling
Dec. 11 vs. Streator—The Lady Knights only had two competitors, so no team score was kept. Kayla McDuffee bowled a 323 series with a 132 high game, while Natalie Barnhart bowled a 282 series with 125 high game.
Dec. 17 @ Morris—Grace Lindgren bowled a 314 series, with a 119 high game, while McDuffee bowled a 291 series (105 high game) and Barnhart bowled a 270 series (119 high game). No team score was kept.

Boys Soph. Basketball
Dec. 13 vs. Rochelle—The Knights earned a 68-47 win over visiting Rochelle Friday. Jake Marczuk led KHS with 16 points, while Tanner Robertson had 11 and Mark Lilly had 11. Fellow Knights Mitchel Groen and Joe Laudont each had seven points, while the trio of Jason Edwards, Jacob Violett and Brett Hansen each had four points.
Dec. 17 @ Hinckley-Big Rock—The Knights routed the host Royals 63-36 Tuesday. Lilly led the team with 16 points, while Robertson (12) and Groen (10) were also in double-digits. The sophomore boys are now 5-1, 2-0 in NIB-12 play.

JV Wrestling
Dec. 14 KHS JV Tournament—The JV wrestlers faired well in their own tournament on Saturday.
The Knights had three grapplers earn individual championships. At 98 pounds, Austin Kedzie won by fall over Mark Wuerfl of Batavia in :32. Johnathan Terry defeated Lukasz Skoczen of Plainfield South 5-2 to win the 170 pound A division. Colin Gussman won a 6-4 decision over Wheaton-Warrenville South’s John Bikulcius in the 145 pound A division.
Earning runner-up status on the day for KHS were Hayden Patterson in the 132 pound A division and Mitchell Jones in the 138 pound A division.
Cullen Murray of Kaneland placed third in the the 182 pound division, while Jordan Hoffman placed fourth in the 132 pound B division.
Preston Havis (113 pounds) and Ben Long (170 pounds B) each earned fifth-place medals, while Ben Smith (152 pounds A) was sixth.

Tickets still on sale for United Center matchup with Geneva Jan. 4

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The Kaneland boys basketball team will be playing Geneva at the United Center, before the Bulls game against the Atlanta Hawks, on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $65 and will get you admission into the Kaneland vs. Geneva game as well as the Bulls vs. Hawks game at 6 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at Kaneland High School’s Debbie Theis at deborah.theis@kaneland.org, and will be on sale until Dec. 20.

Close encounter

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Photo: Senior John Pruett went 3/4 at the foul line, and finished with seven points against Sycamore Friday night. Photo by Mary Paulson

Sycamore bests KHS boys to complete Friday sweep
KANELAND—Knight boys basketball dropped to 2-2 in the still early time-frame of the 2013-14 hoops season, thanks to an old foe.

After the initial trek to the Windmill Classic in Batavia yielded a satisfactory 2-1 record, Kaneland began Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play on Friday along Spartan Trail, only to lose the conference opener by a 41-38 result and begin its quest for three conference crowns in four years in dubious fashion.

Facing Sycamore on their home court, senior backcourt asset Drew David was the only Knight to reach double figures with 13 points that included three three-pointers.

Fellow senior Tyler Carlson had eight points in the losing effort.

Sycamore led after the first quarter by a score of 15-13 and led 22-19 after the halftime buzzer, before holding firm in the second half and leading 31-28 after three. The squads exchanged 10 points apiece in the final frame.

The Spartans’ effort was amplified by seven successful trifectas.

Kaneland immerses itself in conference play yet again with a matchup against Rochelle on Friday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m.

Road warriors
Friday’s home game against Rochelle will be the final time the Knights boys basketball team will play on their home court in 2013, with the total road span of 27 days away, reaching the second week of January. With trips to Hinckley-Big Rock and the Plano Christmas Classic filling out the remainder of December, a matchup with Geneva at the United Center in Chicago on Jan. 4, 2014 will kick off the new year before they finally host Morris Jan. 10.

Dec. 12 sports recap

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Girls JV Bowling
Dec. 5 vs. Dixon—Freshman Grace Lindgren led the way for the Lady Knights against visiting Dixon with a 321 series at Mardi Gras Lanes in DeKalb. Freshmen Kayla McDuffee and Natalie Barnhart bowled a 265 and 257 respectively, while Amber Spaetzel bowled a 254. Dixon defeated the KHS 2,257-1,637.

Soph. Boys Basketball
Dec. 5 at Sycamore—The Knights defeated host Sycamore 51-43 behind Jake Marczuk’s 13 points. Joe Laudont had 11 points, Mark Lilly had 10, Tanner Robertsen eight, Jacob Violett six and Mitchel Groen three. The Knights improved to 3-1, 1-0 in NIB-12 play.

Soph. Girls Basketball
Dec. 7 vs. Antioch—The Lady Knights dismantled visiting Antioch 43-10. Morgan Weber led all scorers with 10 points, Kiandra Powell had eight, Meg Cohrs had six and Kylie Modaff had four for KHS.
Dec. 10 vs. Rochelle—On Tuesday, KHS dispatched NIB-12 foe Rochelle 63-38. Cohrs led the Lady Knights with 16 points. Bailey Crimmins had 12 points, while Weber had 11 points. Kristen Siebert had eight points and Powell had four points. The team is now 5-2 overall, 1-1 in NIB-12 play.

Knights do well at Windmill

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Photo: Sophomore Dylan Vaca led the Knights with 19 points against Batavia Nov. 27. Photo by Patti Wilk

Season opener sees OT win vs. Batavia; KHS splits other two games
BATAVIA—It’s an early idea, but it’s a bright one in terms of how Kaneland High School boys basketball could do this upcoming season: you’ll never be able to count them out, to be sure.

Trying to put together another winning season, coach Brian Johnson’s crew trekked to Batavia for the Ken Peddy 38th annual Windmill City Classic on Thanksgiving eve and came back from double digits to earn an 81-74 overtime win.

Friday had the Knights edged by Englewood of Chicago by a scant 54-50 margin before once again taking charge on Saturday evening and beating St. Francis by a final of 66-48.

Kaneland is now 2-1 to begin the season.

In the opener, sophomore Dylan Vaca had a team-high 19 points, while seniors John Pruett and Drew David had 18 each. Senior Tyler Carlson added 14 to the winning effort.

Canaan Coffey of Batavia had a game-high 26 points.

After keeping in step with the host Bulldogs with a 13-13 score after one frame, Batavia took control with a hot perimeter game to go up 35-28 at the half.

It looked dire for Kaneland in the fourth, with Batavia up 63-50 with 5:36 remaining. Then, buckets from David and Carlson started to fall to slim the lead. A Carlson three closed it to 64-61 with 2:30 to go, and he would soon follow with a three-point play to close it to 66-64 with 1:38 to go in regulation.

Vaca was fouled on a three-point try and would sink all the shots to close within 68-67 with 35.6 to go. After two Bulldog free throws made it a 70-67 game with 34.2 left, David drained the last basket of regulation from behind the arc to tie the score with 19.4 and send it to overtime.

Kaneland stifled the Bulldogs on the offensive end in overtime, while David hit a baseline jumper to give the Knights their first lead since quarter one at 72-70, 63 seconds into the extra frame. Carlson’s three and a foul shot by Connor Fedderly made it 76-70, effectively sealing the deal as KHS went 6-for-10 from the foul line.

Vaca’s three foul shots put the Kaneland roster into a chance to catch up in what was his first sophomore outing.

“It felt good to get out there and run and shoot the three,” Vaca said. “They fell in the second half. It was a big deficit, and we just had to find a way to come back.”

The team effort was evident and paid off, according to Johnson.

“Dylan made some big shots, and we were fortunate that he made the free throws. (Batavia) shot unbelievably well. We just got lucky and got a few turnovers. Carlson did an excellent job on the glass and he played really hard, and Drew just seems to come up with big shots a lot.”

Against Englewood of Chicago, Pruett had 18 points and David had 11 in the loss. Down 31-17 at halftime, KHS made a valiant comeback to close within 37-36 after three before its foes held firm.

In the win over St. Francis, Vaca paced the Knights with 21 points—the only Knight in double figures—while Kaneland went 21-of-28 from the line. Up 35-27 at halftime, Kaneland expanded the lead to 54-36 after three before the final margin.

On tap for the Knight hoopsters is a trip to Sycamore on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m.

Photos by Patti Wilk

Dec. 5 Sports Recap

in Bowling/Boys Basketball/Girls Basketball/Wrestling by

Varsity Bowling
Dec. 3 at Sterling—The Lady Knights gained two conference points in their season opener at Sterling Tuesday. Christie Crews led the way with a 523 series, while Dominique Lee had a 472. The Knights won game 2.
“Christie’s 213 in the first game really charged the team up, and it was fantastic that we could win a game against such a perennially strong team,” said head coach Jim McKnight. “It was great to see the girls bowl so well their first time out.”
Michelle Bohanek bowled a 411 series, Katie Hill a 409, Rena Wojciechowski a 401 and Amber Spaetzel a 295.

KHS bowled at Lisle Wednesday before their home opener tonight at DeKalb’s Mardi Gras Lanes against Dixon at 4 p.m.

Soph. Girls Basketball
Nov. 26 vs. Belvidere North—The Lady Knights upended the visiting Blue Thunder 50-28. Kiandra Powell led KHS with three three-pointers and 13 points off the bench, while Kylie Modaff had 8 points, and Meg Cohrs and Morgan Weber each scored 7.

Nov. 27 vs. Marengo—KHS secured a second-place finish at its own tournament with a 44-28 victory over Marengo. Corhs led the Lady Knights with 10 points, and Kristen Siebert had 8. Powell, Weber and Sophie Sandquist each had 6 points, Modaff had 4 and Hollie Fedderly and Nicole Koczka each had 2 points. The sophomores sit at 3-1 on the season.

Soph. Boys Basketball
Nov. 27 at Belvidere North—The sophomore Knights took on Hononegah at the Belvidere North Tournament, falling to the Indians 56-55. Mark Lilly let the way with 13 points, while Mitchel Groen had 12 and Jake Marczuk had 11. Other Knight scorers included Jacob Violett (6 points), Joe Laudont (4), Kevin Fajardo (3) and Tanner Robertson, Andy Delgado and Sam Wolf each with 2.

Nov. 29 at Belvidere North—The Knights bounced back to defeat the Sandwich Indians 62-44 at the Belvidere North Tournament Friday. Ten Knights made the scoresheet, with Robertson’s 11 leading the balanced effort. Marczuk (10 points), Jason Edwards (9), Laudont and Lilly (8 each), Groen (6), Conor Peterson (5) Fajardo and Wold (2 each), and Matt Vandenborn (1) also scored for the Knights.

The sophomore group improved their record to 2-1 prior to tonight’s game at Sycamore at 7 p.m.

JV Wrestling
Nov. 30 vs. Freeport, Burlington Central and Wheaton Warrenville South—The JV Knights competed in a home quad Saturday. Winners included Kegan Workman at 152 pounds (fall in 1:30 over Sam Morgan of Freeport), Preston Havis at 113 pounds (fall in 4:22 vs. Tony Anderson of WWS and a fall in 1:18 over a BC opponent), Mitch Jones at 138 ponds (5-3 decision over Sam Milnamow of WWS and a fall over BC’s Shaun McMillian in 1:32) and Hayden Patterson at 132 pounds (fall in 1:32 over Biship Kronenbomb of BC).

Long-range game

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Photo:Senior John Pruett drives to the hoop with junior Ben Barnes right behind during Saturday’s boys basketball practice. Photos by Patti Wilk

Johnson’s crew aims for third NIB-12 title in four seasons
KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball may have 67 wins under coach Brian Johnson in his previous four years, but the lack of one specific win last February is what spurs them on.

A regional semifinal loss to Wheaton’s St. Francis High School at the IMSA Regional put an end to a season that saw a 16-12 mark and a second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII championship.

The ending of the last campaign meant Johnson said goodbye to two hard-working seniors, Matt Limbrunner and Dan Miller.

“Losing Dan and Matt is obviously a big loss,” Johnson said. “Matt was player of the year in our league and had a nice season. Dan was a leader who played outstanding defense.”

The loss of the two anchors is lessened somewhat with the return of backcourt powerhouse Drew David and senior company.

“Drew is a four-year starter. John (Pruett) is coming off an all-conference season, and Ty (Carlson) was solid throughout the year. We definitely have guys coming back that were solid contributors for us,” Johnson said.

The three are also well-versed in the clutch, having seen David crush dreams of DeKalb and Sycamore with late three-pointers last year, and Carlson beating Morris with a putback.

“They’ve gone through a lot as far as basketball is concerned. With them having been in football and baseball, they’ve been through a lot of varsity games and hopefully can add to their basketball experience,” Johnson said.

Junior Connor Fedderly also returns after having served time in the starting lineup, as does Cole Carlson.

“Connor had a nice year last year and a nice summer with his shot. Cole put in major minutes for us last year. We have some other guys that played a little bit last year,” Johnson said.

Johnson refers to assets like tower Tom Van Bogaert and Ben Barnes in his junior year.

Sophomore Dylan Vaca, thrown into the fire last year as a freshman, returns for more second-year minutes. Junior Steven Limbrunner makes his varsity entrance with a good pedigree, while junior Owen Korpela joins the squad as well.

Zach Douglas, Ryan David and Jake Gomes also join the Knight ranks for 2013 after JV experience.

In his fifth year, Johnson has gained more experience with juggling a lineup of different players and personalities.

“It’s nice that I know the kids really well and they know me. I have an idea with some guys, and there’s a competition for minutes. Some guys that may start may not finish games,” Johnson said.

Looking at the upcoming season, Kaneland is upping the ante on awareness and competition, which includes a return to the Plano Shootout over the holidays, and a return to the United Center court for the first time in four years against Geneva. The Knights also host the first-ever Kaneland Shootout in February.

“We’re trying to step up our competition, and we play in good competition over the summer. The goal is not to hide,” Johnson said.

For the NIB-12 landscape, nothing will be taken for granted.

“Every night is a solid matchup, we’re all pretty evenly matched across the board. Sycamore finished strong with a regional title. They have solid players,” Johnson said.

The season tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 27, with the Batavia Windmill Classic. Conference play begins at Sycamore, on Friday, Dec. 6.

Kaneland to play at United Center

in Boys Basketball/Kaneland by

KANELAND—The Kaneland boys basketball team will play Geneva High School at 2 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2014. The game between the Knights and Vikings will take place prior to the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks game, which will be played at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $65, and will get you into both games. They can be purchased at Kaneland High School by contacting coach Brian Johnson at brian.johnson@kaneland.org, or Debbie Theirs at deborah.theis@kaneland.org or (630) 365-5100, ext. 347.

Tickets wil be on sale until Friday, Dec. 20.

Taking the Knights’ temperature

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Photo: Head coach Brian Johnson’s journey didn’t stop at Morris, as he went to Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center to coach the North All-Stars in the IBCA 3A/4A All-Star Game on June 29. The South defeated the North by a 152-142 final. File Photo

Knights’ journey at summer Morris Shootout ends in consolation
Morris—It’s always beneficial to see how a team will do in a spot it has to visit in due time.

Taking a chance to visit the 28th annual Morris Shootout at the home of the Northern Illinois Big XII rival Redskins, the Kaneland Knights boys basketball squad made a go of it at the end of June.

Kaneland, in the consolation quarterfinals, ended its Morris trek with a 55-41 setback to O’Fallon High School, after having dealt with Plainfield South in the day’s first contest, 53-46.

The Knights went 2-3 during the two-day hoops sprint, beginning with a 1-2 record on June 26. A late switch to Pool E with Ottawa, the Knights began with a 56-46 win over the Springfield Sentinels, before dropping a 66-46 game to Belleville West and a 58-51 result to the North Chicago Warhawks.

Edwardsville won the championship in a 50-38 game over Stevenson. The downstate institution also took the crown in 2012, while North Chicago won the tournament title in 2011.

Burlington Central, a familiar foe of the Knights, made it to the semifinals of the consolation bracket but was dispensed by Galesburg, 63-57.

Kaneland keeps ball rolling with summer basketball

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File Photo: Drew David

Knights participate in weekend’s Tiger Shootout in Joliet
KANELAND—In the sixth tournament final, it was Benet Academy laying the roundball skills to Rich East on Saturday to capture championship glory.

Benet beat Homewood-Flossmoor, while Rich East bested York in the championship semifinals of the Tiger Shootout summer tournament in Joliet, Ill.

The Pool E final standings after Friday had Kaneland in third place, ahead of Minooka, but behind Homewood-Flossmoor and Mt. Carmel.

Chicago’s Mt. Carmel got past Kaneland by a 58-42 clip in pool play, followed by KHS edging sometimes-rival Minooka 47-43. H-F defeated Kaneland in the final initial Pool E encounter.

After losing to Ottawa, Kaneland beat Joliet West JV in Saturday’s third-place bracket semis before losing to Plainfield North in the third-place consolation final on Saturday, finishing 2-4 on the weekend.

For coach Brian Johnson, it was a chance to see high-caliber teams like Benet, Rich East, Zion-Benton, Crete-Monee and Thornwood.

“There were some really good teams there,” Johnson said. “Our league in the regular season is good, and we have a tough out-of-league schedule, so it’s nice to see those teams.”

Seeing action at outposts like Joliet and the upcoming Morris Shootout also gives the Knights roundballers a chance to hone skills, paying dividends once the weather turns colder.

The Knights’ summer rotation includes Drew David, John Pruett and Tyler Carlson, three members of the 2012-13 crew that were responsible for the productive run.

“Drew has worked on his shot; John tweaked an ankle and has been inactive a little bit, but he’s playing well, and Tyler has put a lot of work in and has been consistent. You also have guys like Tom Van Bogaert, who comes in every day at 6 a.m. to work on his shot. It’s nice to see guys like that step in. As a coach, it’s nice to see where everyone fits in,” Johnson said.

The Knights’ next challenge is the 28th annual Morris Shootout, which began on Wednesday and continues through Thursday, June 27. KHS faces Springfield High School at 3 p.m., followed by a meeting with Belleville West serving as the next opponent at 5 p.m.

Johnson also coaches the North side in the IBCA Class 3A/4A game at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center on Saturday, June 29. Kaneland is also in the planning stages of a Feb. 15, 2014, shootout featuring teams like Hillcrest, North Chicago and St. Charles East. Varsity and sophomore teams would all see action, with name and additional team slots to be determined.

KHS boys basketball annual golf outing set for June 8

in Boys Basketball by

Kaneland—Foursomes and sponsorships are going fast, but there is still time to join the Kaneland boys basektball program in a day of fun at its fourth annual golf outing on Saturday, June 8, at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

The outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses. It will also serve as a fundraiser to raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts.

There will be a variety of prizes available in a raffle, as well as a silent auction. The golf outing will be a scramble format, and the cost is $400 for a foursome or $35 for those who wish to only attend the dinner.

For further information, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347 or email brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

Knight coach Johnson named IBCA All-Star coach

in Boys Basketball/Featured/Kaneland by

Photo: KHS head coach Brian Johnson works with his team during this past season’s action.
File Photo

Exhibition to take place at Illinois Wesleyan University this June
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In theory, you always have a chance to witness hoops talent up close as a basketball coach.

In coach Brian Johnson’s case, the chance to do so will be right in front of his face this summer.

The four-year Kaneland High School boys basketball coach was informed last week of his appointment to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association 3A/4A All-Star Game, held at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center on June 29.

Johnson, who has won two Northern Illinois Big XII titles with the Knights roster in the last three years, said he is humbled by the opportunity and recognition.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Johnson said. “Some of those coaches that have been down there are legends.”

The IBCA has a committee select the North and South Teams, with I-80 as the boundary. The teams will be selected from a pool of senior All-State teams, with around 25 players total.

“I had been approached by the IBCA to come on as coach; I had done some stuff for them in the past,” Johnson said. “It had been brought up a couple of months ago.”

Johnson saw the Knights’ season end at the hands of St. Francis of Wheaton last month in the IMSA Regional, but his coaching prowess will be called on to manage some top-tier talent.

“We get down there on Friday and see the different players, and have a couple practices before Saturday’s game,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s trail to head coach involved Dundee-Crown High School, where he worked as an assistant, and the North coaching staff will carry significance.

“Lance Huber will be an assistant coach; he gave me a shot at Dundee-Crown and helped out so much to get me where I am today,” Johnson said.

In the midst of summer league action, Johnson will have a responsibility with quite the spotlight, but with the honor bestowed and the all-star talent at his disposal, the Knights’ sideline roamer is keeping the stress at bay.

“I’m going to go down there and have a good time,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be fun.”

The festivities in Bloomington, Ill., are also scheduled to feature a similar 1A/2A All-Star Game that same weekend.

Dudzinski named All-Patriot League

in Boys Basketball/Elburn/Hometown by

Worcester, Mass.—Holy Cross junior forward Dave Dudzinski, of Elburn, has been selected to the 2012-13 All-Patriot League second team in men’s basketball, as voted by the conference’s head coaches.

Dudzinski, a graduate of Kaneland High School, has averaged a team-best 15 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots per game this year, while hitting 47.9 percent (157 of 328) of his field goal attempts and 82.4 percent (103 of 125) of his free throws. He finished the regular season ranked fourth in the league in scoring, fourth in rebounding, fourth in free throw percentage, eighth in blocked shots and ninth in field goal percentage.

Dudzinski has led the team in scoring 15 times this year and scored in double-figures 25 times. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 831 points, 439 rebounds and 68 blocked shots, while connecting on 49.2 percent (305 of 620) of his field goals and 80.3 percent (188 of 234) of his free throws. Dudzinski currently ranks sixth all-time at Holy Cross in career free throw percentage.

Boys hoops’ journey ends at Spartans’ hand

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Guard Drew David is fouled while trying to get to the hoop during the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 43-32 loss to St. Francis at the Class 3A IMSA Regional Feb. 27.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Fourth quarter sees fortune upended in 11-point regional loss
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—If it weren’t for a tough fourth quarter, Kaneland boys basketball could be talking about a regional final in Aurora.

An evenly matched game at Illinois Math and Science Academy against the No. 2 seed St. Francis was a tight affair, until the Spartans made a run and stopped the Knights 43-32 on Feb. 27.

The game was rescheduled due to less-than-stellar travel conditions and snowfall on Feb. 26.

Kaneland’s road stops with a 16-12 record for 2012-13, after garnering 17 victories in each of coach Brian Johnson’s first three seasons.

In 2011-12, the Knights powered through to the sectional semifinal in Sycamore before losing to Rockford East.

Aurora Central Catholic pulled an upset over Wheaton Academy, 41-37, in the first game of the evening, while the 3A Regional final on Friday featured St. Francis taking the plaque over ACC by a 46-43 tally.

St. Francis was scheduled to face Sycamore in the Freeport Sectional on Wednesday.

Senior Dan Miller paced the Knights with 10 points, while fellow senior Matt Limbrunner added nine.

It was fitting that the last challenge was buoyed by the two lone seniors in coach Johnson’s program this year.

“Those two came from a sophomore team that went 24-1; you look forward to getting that group. They stick with it and everyone else kind of disappears. They stuck with the program and gave me all they had, and they were my first freshman class,” Johnson said.

Senior Tim Zettinger had a game-high 21 for St. Francis.

In the first frame, Tyler Carlson’s bucket and a later free throw gave KHS a 7-2 lead with 3:17 left, but the Spartans scored the last six points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating arc from Zettinger to fall behind 8-7.

Kaneland’s shooting touch disappeared the last half of the second quarter, with Limbrunner’s two foul shots breaking a 4:21 drought to close within 15-14. The Spartans’ bucket with 45.9 left extended the lead to 17-14 before halftime.

The Knights’ shooting touch picked up to give the lower seed a lift in the third quarter. Limbrunner hit a shot, followed by two from Miller and a baseline jumper from John Pruett that tied the score at 22-22 with 4:45 to go.

A feed from Limbrunner found Pruett to take the lead for KHS at 24-22 with 2:59. After a foul shot and steal and follow-through from St. Francis, a Limbrunner contested shot gave the Knights a 26-25 edge with 37.2 to go in the third quarter.

With both squads looking for their edge, Miller’s two free throws closed it to 29-28 after St. Francis took a lead.

Kaneland took its last lead of the game on a Limbrunner three with 4:15 to go for a 31-29 lead before St. Francis went on a 14-1 run to close the game. The Spartans went 7-for-8 from the foul line to help their cause. The final point of the season for KHS was a Drew David free throw with 1:16 remaining to close within 37-32.

“We didn’t hit shots down the stretch,” Johnson said. “We didn’t take care of the ball; there were a few times in the third quarter that hurt. Matt (Limbrunner) hit that three, and we got a lead. It could have went either way, and unfortunately it went against us.”

Conference Champs

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Tyler Carlson (right) stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win.

KHS comes from behind for conference championship; passes IMSA in regional action
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Kaneland closed out the regular season Friday with a big come-from-behind win over Rochelle to lock up the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Championship. The Knights followed that by opening the post season with a huge 39-point victory over host Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA).

A site of many entertaining and tight battles, the Knights traveled to Rochelle on Friday to conclude the regular season with a close 69-66 victory.

John Pruett led the charge with 19 points, followed by Matt Limbrunner with 16 and Drew David with 10.

Rochelle jumped atop Kaneland’s hopes with an 18-9 lead after one and maintained a 38-26 lead at halftime.

Kaneland righted the game with a 20-9 run spanning the entire third quarter to close within 47-46 before a 23-19 fourth tipped the scales the Knights’ way.

Kaneland engineered dramatic victories to clinch its first conference championship in three decades two years ago, and mustered a comeback win over the Hubs in the Rochelle Regional final a year ago.

Kaneland’s 16th win of the season (16-11) came in the opening round of the Illinois Math and Science Academy Regional on Monday night in Aurora. Kaneland, the No. 3 seed, pounded the No. 6 host Titans by a 79-40 score, and were set to meet No. 2 St. Francis of Wheaton on Tuesday before inclement weather and travel conditions postponed the clash until Wednesday night. Results were unavailable for press time.

“We’re going to have to come with our best game,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said before Wednesday’s tip. “They’re (St. Francis) a very strong and solid team. They work really well together, and their defense is outstanding.”

Earlier action on Monday had the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers edge the Marmion Academy Cadets 53-51. ACC will tip-off against No. 1 Wheaton Academy before the Knights-Spartans meeting.

Four Knights found their way to the double-figures zone on Monday: Dylan Vaca with a game-high 19 points behind four three-pointers, Pruett with 15, Limbrunner with 15 and Dan Miller with 10.

For IMSA, junior Isiah Butler connected on five treys for a team-high 18 points.

In a high-tempo first quarter, Kaneland saw opportunities pay off in either putbacks or trips to the foul line. Miller hit the front end of a pair with 3:40 left in the frame for a 12-3 Knight lead. After Butler hit a three to make it 12-6, Limbrunner’s shot made it 14-6 with 3:01 to play. After another IMSA bucket made it 14-8 with 1:57 to play, Limbrunner sunk a trifecta 36 ticks later to make it 17-8 before a Butler three with 52.8 left closed the first frame scoring at 17-11.

Kaneland then put up a 24-spot in the second quarter and looked at a 41-24 lead going into the halftime break.

A Butler basket five seconds into the quarter closed the deficit to 17-13, with KHS going on a gigantic 13-0 run. Tyler Carlson’s three, Miller’s basket, a Pruett putback, a Limbrunner putback, a Cole Carlson bucket and a Pruett baseliner within a 2:54 span made it 30-13 and had Kaneland sailing.

David, Limbrunner and Pruett put up multiple baskets in the third quarter, and the Knights saw their lead balloon to 27 points, 58-31, after three.

Kaneland’s basket with 22.5 left put the lead at 40 before IMSA inched closer by the end.

Miller and the gang took note of what IMSA was trying to accomplish and after a period of adjustment, was able to execute their desired gameplan.

“It was really good to get a victory tonight,” Miller said. “You’d prefer to make your first baskets, but we focused in practice on getting to the offensive glass. That’s a big part of our game.”

If the Knights defeated Wheaton St. Francis Wednesday night (results were unavailable as of press time), they would face the winner of Wheaton Academy and Aurora Central Catholic on Friday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. at IMSA.

Dan Miller goes up for a shot and gets fouled in the first quarter of Kaneland's come-from-behind 69-66 victory at Rochelle Friday.  Photo by John DiDonna
Dan Miller goes up for a shot and gets fouled in the first quarter of Kaneland’s come-from-behind 69-66 victory at Rochelle Friday.
Photo by John DiDonna
Tom VanBogaert and Dan Miller fight for a loose ball in the first quarter at Rochelle on Friday. Kaneland pulled out a late victory, winning 69-66. Photo by John DiDonna
Tom VanBogaert and Dan Miller fight for a loose ball in the first quarter at Rochelle on Friday. Kaneland pulled out a late victory, winning 69-66.
Photo by John DiDonna
Tyler Carlson stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win. Photo by John DiDonna
Tyler Carlson stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win.
Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's John Pruett (5) loses control and goes down while Tyler Carlson (10) comes to help in the third quarter of the varsity boy's 69-66 win at Rochelle on Friday. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s John Pruett (5) loses control and goes down while Tyler Carlson (10) comes to help in the third quarter of the varsity boy’s 69-66 win at Rochelle on Friday.
Photo by John DiDonna
Drew David gets a pass under a Rochelle defender in the third quarter during Kaneland's comeback win. Photo by John DiDonna
Drew David gets a pass under a Rochelle defender in the third quarter during Kaneland’s comeback win.
Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's Matt Limbrunner maintains ball control to kill some time in the fourth quarter against Rochelle on Friday. The boys came from behind to win 69-66. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner maintains ball control to kill some time in the fourth quarter against Rochelle on Friday. The boys came from behind to win 69-66.
Photo by John DiDonna

Back on track

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Cole Carlson (44) and Matt Limbrunner (42) fight for possession in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk

Boys’ loss at Morris brings skid to 5 before win at Dixon
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A trip to Dixon, Ill., was just what the doctor ordered.

After a five-game losing streak that would make anyone ill, the Knight boys hoops squad traveled to their Northern Illinois Big XII crossover rival and beat the host Dukes by a final of 76-62 on Saturday.

It helped remedy some of the ill feelings of a 50-46 loss in Morris on Friday that saw KHS outscored 32-19 in the second half.

KHS is now 14-11 (6-3 NIB-12).

Against Dixon, the Knights were paced by Cole Carlson’s 17 and Matt Limbrunner’s 15.

The Knights were up 23-10 after one and 37-22 at the halftime buzzer before expanding the lead to 57-36 after three. The Dukes went on a 26-19 run in the fourth, but all for naught.

Against the rival Redskins, baskets by Dan Miller and Limbrunner made it 12-3 in favor of KHS with 2:14 remaining. Morris’ last bucket made it 12-5 before the end of the frame.

Kaneland converted all four shots from the field and went 5-for-7 from the line, going into halftime with a 27-18 lead.

KHS would only go two-for-nine from the foul line the rest of the way, however.

“(Free throws) have been a topic for about a month now,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.

Morris would make a charge and take a 36-34 lead with 2:20 to go in the quarter before John Pruett’s bucket tied the score.

Limbrunner’s basket with 1:34 to play sent the end of the frame into a 38-38 tie.

A Redskin three gave the hosts the lead for good at 41-38 with 6:23 to go, as the Knights were forced to play catch-up.

A three by Drew David with seven ticks left closed the lead to 48-46, but two free throws gave the game its final four-point margin.

“We were just poor on both ends of the floor and especially from the free throw line at the end. You’re playing at Morris. I was happy with what we did in the first half. The second quarter worried me a bit,” Johnson said.

The end of the regular season hits on Friday, Feb. 22, in Rochelle.

On Monday, Feb. 25, the Knights, the No. 3 seed in the IMSA Regional in Aurora, faces off against the host Titans at 7:30 p.m., with the winner facing St. Francis of Wheaton (No. 2) on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m.

John Pruett (5) and Tyler Carlson (10) grab a rebound in the fourth quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett (5) and Tyler Carlson (10) grab a rebound in the fourth quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Cole Carlson (44) and Matt Limbrunner (42) fight for possession in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. 			   Photo by Patti Wilk
Cole Carlson (44) and Matt Limbrunner (42) fight for possession in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland's Matt Limbrunner executes a slam-dunk in the third quarter on Tuesday, February 12 against St. Charles North. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner executes a slam-dunk in the third quarter on Tuesday, February 12 against St. Charles North.
Photo by Patti Wilk
The intensity was there as Drew David drives down the court but Kaneland came up short against St. Charles North, losing 61-50. Photo by Patti Wilk
The intensity was there as Drew David drives down the court but Kaneland came up short against St. Charles North, losing 61-50.
Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett fights to get a shot off in the second quarter when Kaneland traveled to St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett fights to get a shot off in the second quarter when Kaneland traveled to St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson gets off a one-handed shot from the side in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson gets off a one-handed shot from the side in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12.
Photo by Patti Wilk
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