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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

Spring Training camps include Cougar alumni

in Kane County Cougars by

GENEVA—With warm thoughts of Major League Baseball spring training now underway, many former Kane County Cougars are gearing up for the 2013 season.
Here’s a brief snapshot of Cougars alumni at various spring training sites.

Building on 2012
It’s hard to fathom what Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera (’01 Cougar) could provide for an encore in 2013.
Last season, Cabrera was a Major League All-Star, was named American League Most Valuable Player, and won the league’s Triple Crown. The Triple Crown achievement was the first such occurrence in big league history since 1967. Cabrera finished the regular season with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI.
Pittsburgh pitcher A.J. Burnett (’98 Cougar) opened last season with a 15-4 record before fading down the stretch. Still, Burnett’s 16-10 record meant that the right-hander reached the 10-win mark for his eighth straight season.
San Diego pitcher Huston Street (’04 Cougar) was a first-time Major League All-Star last season. Street recorded a 1.85 ERA (his lowest since twirling a 1.72 ERA during his rookie season in ’05) and saved 23 games for San Diego in 2012.
San Francisco pitcher Santiago Casilla (’03-’04 Cougar) saved 25 games last season and was part of the Giants’ World Series championship team, picking up his second ring in three seasons.
Minnesota outfielder Josh Willingham (’01 Cougar) is hoping to build on a career year. Willingham set career highs in home runs (35), RBI (110) and runs (85) while winning his first Silver Slugger Award in 2012.
Arizona pitcher Trevor Cahill (’07 Cougar) shed 15 pounds over the off-season and has won 10 or more games in each of his first four big league seasons. Cahill is just 24 years old.
Oakland pitcher Dan Straily (’10 Cougar) made his big league debut with Oakland last season, making seven starts.
A’s teammate Sean Doolittle (’07 Cougar) converted from infielder to pitcher and made the transition look easy last season as a big league rookie. Doolittle pitched in 44 games and posted a 3.04 ERA.

New homes
Ryan Dempster (’96 Cougar) is now with Boston after signing a two-year deal, while Joe Blanton (’03 Cougar) signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Former Cougar Mike Redmond (’93-’94) is a first-time big league manager with the Miami Marlins. Tyson Ross (’08 Cougar) was acquired by San Diego as part of an off-season trade with Oakland. Vin Mazzaro (’06 Cougar) was dealt from Kansas City to Pittsburgh. Dontrelle Willis (’02 Cougar) was signed to a minor league deal by the Cubs. Nate Robertson (’99-’00 Cougar) was signed to a minor league deal by Texas with an invitation to big league camp. Cliff Pennington (’05 Cougar) is now with Arizona.

Shaking the injury bug
Milwaukee infielder Alex Gonzalez (’96 Cougar) was the Brewers’ starting shortstop in 2012 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in early May. Now 36 years old, Gonzalez re-signed with Milwaukee and will likely be the team’s backup shortstop or play an alternate infield position. Gonzalez has played shortstop in all 1,559 games as a major leaguer since making his debut in 1998 with the Florida Marlins. Boston reliever Andrew Bailey (’07 Cougar) is a two-time All-Star and former American League Rookie of the Year. Bailey spent much of last season on the disabled list because of a thumb injury and subsequent surgery.

Short hops
Among the numerous former Cougars with the Los Angeles Dodgers are Josh Beckett (’00 Cougar), Ronald Belisario (’02 Cougar), Adrian Gonzalez (’01 Cougar), Andre Ethier (’03 Cougar) and Justin Sellers (’06 Cougar). Justin Friend (’08 Cougar) has been invited to Phillies big league camp; the right-hander reached as high as Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. Jamie Richmond (’08-’09 Cougar) was signed by the Royals to a minor league contract. Jake Kuebler (’11 Cougar) was signed to a minor league contract by the Mets. Sugar Ray Marimon (’11 Cougar) and Yordano Ventura (’11 Cougar) are part of Royals big league camp. Max Stassi (’10 Cougar) was recently part of a trade that sent him from Oakland to Houston. Anthony Recker (’06 Cougar) is fighting for a roster spot with the New York Mets.

IHSA changes pair of football rules

in Sports by

Bloomington, ILL.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for its regularly scheduled meeting at the IHSA offices in Bloomington on Monday, where the board approved Advisory Committee Terms and Conditions recommendations from fall sports and activities.

A pair of changes brought forth by the Football Advisory Committee pertaining to playoff qualification were both approved by the board.

The first change adds an additional playoff qualifying tiebreaker to the tie-breaking process. The new tiebreaker will take the tied teams and look at their games against playoff qualifying teams from the regular-season (the number of playoff teams for each tied school would be the same based on a previous tiebreaker). The team who gave up the fewest points in those games will win the tiebreaker. The new tiebreaker will be used prior to using a coin toss to break the tie.

“Given all that the coaches and players put into a season, we never like to see playoff qualifying come down to a coin flip,” said IHSA Assistant Executive Director and football administrator Craig Anderson. “This additional tiebreaker makes a lot of sense and doesn’t create concerns about team’s running up the score that could have existed had the committee decided to use points scored as a tiebreaker.”

In addition, the second recommendation approved by the board was a universal tiebreaker for determining the automatic qualifier from each conference for the IHSA Football Playoffs. The tiebreaker is strictly for determining who receives the automatic berth to the IHSA Playoffs and the individual conferences will still determine their official conference champion or champions.

“This change simplifies the automatic qualifying process and also closes a loophole.” said Anderson. “Currently a conference could have two or more teams tied for the championship, but not all of those teams may be playoff eligible based on their record. It prevents a conference from choosing that school as its automatic qualifier, simply based on the fact that the other two schools have already qualified.”

Additional changes
• Cross Country
Regional to Sectional advancement will be changed to the following:
In Class 1A, the first seven teams and five individuals not members of the first seven placing teams will advance to the sectional competition.
In Classes 2A and 3A, the first six teams and five individuals not members of the first six placing teams will advance to the sectional competition.
• Golf
One assistant coach per team, in addition to the head coach, will be allowed to coach from tee to green during the State Series.
• Tennis
The IHSA administrator shall have the authority to modify scoring methods for matches in the backdraw only to expedite the matches in the event of weather or daylight issues.
• Volleyball
Approved the use of a red, white and blue volleyball as the official volleyball of the IHSA State Series. Schools can use a colored ball (red, white & blue, school colors, etc.) or continue to use a white ball.

‘Dan’-ger Zone

in Featured/Wrestling by

Photo: Kaneland’s Dan Goress wins the Class 2A State Wrestling Championship in the 145- pound weight class at the University of Illinois Champaign on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Goress wins state title for 1st KHS wrestling crown in 20 years
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland last saw one of its wrestlers crowned an individual state champion before current KHS senior Dan Goress was born.

After this weekend in Champaign, Ill., Goress has assured his name will be remembered for a long time.

For the first time since Scott Brewer captured the 145-pound title in 1993, Goress (41-3) became the seventh State champ in school history by taking the 145-pound category after Saturday’s action at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois.

“It was really exciting,” Goress said. “During my match, I did what I needed to do to take the lead and didn’t want to make any mistakes. Once I won, I looked up into the stands and saw everybody cheering. It was a feeling that I can’t describe.”

Other State reps for Kaneland included heavyweight Zach Theis taking fifth place, and Esai Ponce in the 132-pound group.

In the preliminary opener, Goress’ skill carried him to a 4-2 decision over Springfield Haratio Austin.

“After my first match, I was really disappointed. They were like, ‘You gotta keep your head up, that’s what the matches are going to come down to.’ You can’t be mad because you won by two points,” Goress said.

Goress then got past Crystal Lake Central foe Kyle Fugiel in the second round by a 4-3 decision.

As part of semifinal competition, Goress defeated Mt. Vernon’s Chase Vosburgh, 5-3, giving Vosburgh just his second setback of the season.

For 145-pound glory in the final, Goress knocked off Montini Catholic counterpart Michael Sepke by a 3-2 margin.

“They’re all solid wrestlers. Every single one of those kids deserved to be down there,” Goress said. “I wasn’t going to get tech falls or major decisions; I was going out there to win. I wasn’t going to try to impress anybody.”

At 285 pounds, Kaneland’s Zach Theis (35-8) earned a 2:11 pinfall over Vernon Hills’ Joe Blitstein in the first round, then lost to Springfield Southeast’s Copache Tyler in 3:06.

Maneuvering his way into wrestlebacks, Theis took it to Tinley Park’s Danny Korycki in 2:09 and Freeport’s Kendal Parker in 3:09. In the semifinal wrestleback, Theis was edged by Chicago’s Lavontay Cobb of King High School by a 5-2 margin.

Theis earned redemption in the final match of his season, beating Northside Prep of Chicago’s Ben Mauk-O’Connor in 2:26 to earn fifth place.

At 132 pounds, Kaneland teammate Ponce (33-5) was defeated in his only match of the journey, losing 5-2 to Mike Gussarson of Antioch, the eventual fifth-place winner.

With the end of the 2012-13 campaign, the Knights say goodbye to David Barnhart, Goress, Stephen Gust, Sonny Horn, Ponce, Nick Sharp, Theis and Connor Williams.

Sports_Wrestle_6

Kaneland's Dan Goress wins the Class 2A State Wrestling Championship in the 145- pound weight class at the University  of Illinois Champaign on Saturday.
Kaneland’s Dan Goress wins the Class 2A State Wrestling Championship in the 145- pound weight class at the University
of Illinois Champaign on Saturday.

Sports_Wrestle_5

After his big state win, Goress hugs Kaneland wrestling coach  Monty Jahns.
After his big state win, Goress hugs Kaneland wrestling coach
Monty Jahns.

Sports_Wrestle_3

Goress is the Knights  first state champion  (145 lb class)  since 1993.
Goress is the Knights
first state champion
(145 lb class)
since 1993.

Heartbreak central

in Featured/Girls Basketball by

Photo: Emma Bradford (32) gets ready to launch a shot in the third quarter against Plano on Feb. 13. The varsity girls reached the second round of regionals but came up just short, losing 52-51. Photo by John DiDonna

Fast, furious comeback falls 1 point short to Plano in Regional
by Mike Slodki
BURLINGTON—It was almost a comeback for the ages.

Instead, it’s a feeling of sadness that will last the offseason.

On Feb. 13, at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional, the Lady Knights’ 20-point comeback attempt was almost complete, but Aly O’Herron’s three-point try off an inbounds pass with 1.5 seconds remaining clanked off the side of the rim, leaving KHS on the short end of a 52-51 loss to the Plano Lady Reapers (22-7).

Burlington Central upended Plano in the regional final on Friday by a final of 38-34.

Kaneland’s journey fell short at 16-11, a year after advancing to the Sycamore Sectional final against Belvidere North.

Ashley Prost paced all scorers with 22 points off 11-of-15 shooting. Kaneland was 21-of-51 from the line.

Albana Hoti of Plano led the Lady Reapers with 12 points.

KHS had the ball with 9.5 seconds left, but an Emma Bradford layup attempt was blocked out of bounds with 1.5, setting up the final play.

“We had two options: an inside look and an outside look,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “(O’Herron) was our outside look; we got a shot and that’s all you can ask for.”

Plano ambushed Kaneland in the first quarter thanks to five treys, including three from Hoti, and went on a 13-0 run to lead 22-6 after one, and kept the lead to 30-14 at halftime.

Kaneland was down 42-27 after three quarters, but turned on the juice for a 24-10 run spanning the entire fourth frame.

“It was no one adjustment we made, we just starting getting a bit more composure,” Colombe said.

KHS scored the first eight points of the quarter to cut the lead to seven, then Brooke Harner, Grams and Prost hit baskets.

Down 48-42, Caroline Heimerdinger hit a rainbow three, followed by another basket 48 seconds later to make it 50-47. Prost’s shot with 1:45 to go cut it to 50-49, and marked the end of five consecutive shots made.

Heimerdinger and O’Herron had chances for a go-ahead shot but couldn’t connect.

Prost’s shot with 35.6 to go made the final one-point margin after two Lady Reaper free throws with 48.6 left.

Kaneland says goodbye to Grams, Prost, Ashley Castellanos, Harner, O’Herron and Bradford due to graduation.

“They’re leaders,” Colombe said. “They’re six kids who play with heart, and they’re leaders who will do well whatever they do in life.”

The scoreboard says it all as Kaneland varsity girls dropped a hearbreaker to Plano in the second round of regional action at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13. Photo by John DiDonna
The scoreboard says it all as Kaneland varsity girls dropped a hearbreaker to Plano in the second round of regional action at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13.
Photo by John DiDonna
Brooke Harner goes up for a shot to bring Kaneland closer in the fourth quarter against Plano in the second round of regional action at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13. Photo by John DiDonna
Brooke Harner goes up for a shot to bring Kaneland closer in the fourth quarter against Plano in the second round of regional action at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13.
Photo by John DiDonna
Caroline Heimerdinger drives down the court in the first quarter during Kaneland's regional game against Plano. Photo by John DiDonna
Caroline Heimerdinger drives down the court in the first quarter during Kaneland’s regional game against Plano.
Photo by John DiDonna
Sarah Grams looks to pass in the second quarter of Kaneland's close regional game against Plano at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13. Photo by John DiDonna
Sarah Grams looks to pass in the second quarter of Kaneland’s close regional game against Plano at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13.
Photo by John DiDonna
Emma Bradford (32) gets ready to launch a shot in the third quarter against Plano on Feb. 13. The  varsity girls reached the  second round of regionals but came up just short,  losing  52-51. Photo by  John DiDonna
Emma Bradford (32) gets ready to launch a shot in the third quarter against Plano on Feb. 13. The
varsity girls reached the
second round of regionals but came up just short,
losing
52-51.
Photo by
John DiDonna
Brooke Harner looses track of the ball in the second quarter of the Lady Knight's hard fought regional game against Plano at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13. Photo by John DiDonna
Brooke Harner looses track of the ball in the second quarter of the Lady Knight’s hard fought regional game against Plano at Burlington on Wednesday, February 13.
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

Baseball career goes to the next level

in Baseball/Featured by

Photo: Blake Sowell of Elburn with his parents, Roxanna and Brady Sowell, 13-year-old brother, Reece Sowell and coach Brian Aversa. Courtesy Photo

Kaneland—KHS senior pitcher Blake Sowell on Feb. 14 signed a letter of intent, accepting an athletic scholarship to play baseball for the Clarke University Crusaders. Clarke University is a Division II NAIA university in Dubuque, Iowa. Sowell will now attend Clarke in the fall of 2013.

The Crusaders had a 20-win season in 2012 with 20 losses. They were 15-9 in the Midwest Collegiate Conference (MCC). The Crusaders are coached by Dan Spain, who is in his second year as head coach. The Kaneland Knights are coached by Brian Aversa and are coming off of a successful 2012 season and a Conference Championship a year after winning the Illinois 3A State Championship.

During the signing event, Sowell expressed his appreciation to Coach Aversa, as well as the other coaches in the Kaneland High School baseball program: coach Dan Hallahan and Ernie Colombe. Sowell said all of the coaches played an integral part of Sowell’s development and success.

Ozzie’s Home Run, Walk 5K set for May 18

in Kane County Cougars by

GENEVA—The Kane County Cougars organization will host the 2nd annual Ozzie’s Home Run and Walk 5K on Saturday, May 18, at 8 a.m. Registration is now open for the event through kccougars.com and racetime.info.

The start and finish for the event will take place at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark on the Cougars’ field with the finish line at home plate. Participants will be seen on the stadium’s videoboard through a live-feed camera and entrants will also receive a high-five from Ozzie T. Cougar on the final stretch of the race. Other surprises that day include door prizes and raffles featuring ceremonial first pitches, suite giveaways and more. The race is open to competitive runners as well as recreational walkers.

The first 300 registrants will receive a commemorative race drawstring bag along with a complimentary ticket voucher for a Cougars game this season. The top three male and female finishers in 14 age division categories will win a customized race medal with the Ozzie’s Home Run and Walk logo.

Registration is $25 for adults and $12 for children age 5 through 12. A portion of race proceeds will be donated to Ozzie’s Outreach, the Cougars’ charitable arm that gives back to various causes each year in the community.

Points taken

in Featured/Wrestling by

Photo: Senior Zach Theis won a 3-0 decision against Sterling in the 285 pound weight class at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional on Saturday. File Photo

Three wrestlers punch State ticket
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It wasn’t 1994 or 2012 levels, but the KHS wrestling squad will take the sectional output.

After sending its biggest State contingent in 18 years a year ago with four representatives, Kaneland continued its upward trajectory in a tough Class 2A Rochelle Sectional.

Esai Ponce (138 pounds) and Dan Goress (145 pounds) are going back to Champaign’s Assembly Hall on Thursday, Feb. 14, as was the style last year, and are joined by heavyweight entry Zach Theis under the guidance of coaches Monty Jahns, Jeremy Kenny and Mike Thorgesen.

Goress and Theis both captured their group’s title after the completion of action in Ogle County on Saturday.

Ponce, a senior, started his high school wrestling tenure in the old 103-pound category and knows his work is not complete just yet.

“At regionals, I thought I was wrestling pretty well,” Ponce said. “At sectionals, I felt like I could have done better, but I still wrestled pretty well. I only had one new opponent from the year in the third-place match and did pretty well against him. That could be an advantage in some cases.

While Rock Island’s Chase Wiggins and Pontiac’s Stephen Richardson claimed the top two spots, Ponce (33-5) earned a 7-0 win over Washington’s Randy Meneweather in the third-place match to end the weekend.

Ponce is scheduled to face Antioch’s Mike Gussarson, who ventures to Champaign with a record of 36-10.

Goress qualified at 138 pounds a year ago, and makes the trip again at a higher weight class.

Goress (38-3) toppled Rock Island junior Jean-Louis Sawadago by 5-2 count.

It almost didn’t matter who was placed in front of Goress this past weekend.

“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t look at anyone in the sectional or my bracket. I wrestled whoever they put in front of me. I just went out there and wrestled and had one goal,” Goress said.

Goress is scheduled to face Springfield entry Haratio Austin (34-7).

Theis, a 32-6 senior, battled fellow Northern Illinois Big XII grappler Curtis Lilly of Sterling in the final and bested the Golden Warrior by a 3-0 tally.

“It’s just getting back to basics and trying to keep the usual this week and going at it over and over,” Theis said. “I’m peaking right now, but there’s always more work to be done.”

Theis draws Chicago’s Lamar Johnson (19-6) of Crane Tech in the opening match.

The 2A tournament begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Feb. 14.

Kaneland's Dan Goress won with a 5-2 decision in the 145-pound weight class against Rock Island on Saturday.  File Photo
Kaneland’s Dan Goress won with a 5-2 decision in the 145-pound weight class against Rock Island on Saturday.
File Photo
Kaneland's Esai Ponce (right) wrestling at 132 pounds, won with  a 7-0  decision against Washington at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional on  Saturday.         File Photo
Kaneland’s Esai Ponce (right) wrestling at 132 pounds, won with
a 7-0
decision against Washington at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional on
Saturday.
File Photo
Senior Zach Theis won a 3-0 decision against Sterling in the 285 pound weight class at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional on Saturday. 	           File Photo
Senior Zach Theis won a 3-0 decision against Sterling in the 285 pound weight class at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional on Saturday. File Photo

KHS stifles Sandwich in first-round action

in Featured/Girls Basketball by

Photo: Emma Bradford keeps the ball away from Sandwich defenders during Kaneland’s 50-14 Regional win at Burlington on Tuesday. Photo by John DiDonna

O’Herron outscores Indians by lonesome in 50-14 result
by Mike Slodki
BURLINGTON—You wouldn’t know the Kaneland Lady Knights had a week-long layoff by Tuesday night’s regional performance.

It turns out Sandwich High School didn’t know what hit it after Tuesday night.

After a regular season finale at Rochelle was cancelled last Thursday, Kaneland went to work in a No. 3 vs. No. 6 Class 3A Burlington Central Regional first-round game and allowed a season-low in points for a 50-14 win.

Kaneland improved to 16-10 and has won four in a row after a three-game skid. Sandwich ended 2012-13 play at 4-23.

Aly O’Herron outscored the Lady Indians by herself with 20 points on six three-pointers.

“Anytime I can get into the zone, I’ll get some open looks,” O’Herron said. “When I feel it, I feel it. Any shooter will say that.”

The defensive output marks the lowest point total allowed since a 52-19 win over Illinois Math and Science Academy back on Feb. 2.

O’Herron’s trifecta, Kelly Wallner’s basket, Sarah Grams’ trey and Caroline Heimerdinger’s (eight points) three made it 11-2 with 3:01 to go to in the first quarter, closing the frame’s scoring.

Kaneland outscored Sandwich 11-2 in the second quarter, as well, with an O’Herron bomb and two Emma Bradford foul shots setting the eventual halftime score at 22-4 with 1:36 remaining.

With Sandwich struggling to finish possessions thanks to three KHS steals, the Lady Knights converted those gifts into a pair of free throws and a three-pointer by Heimerdinger and a shot by Ashley Prost to make it 36-8 with 1:21 left in the third quarter to close the frame’s scoring.

O’Herron’s two threes and an offensive putback by Heimerdinger with 4:10 to go made it 44-10, allowing the second-string rotation to get floor time.

“The defense was solid, and it has been pretty solid,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “Our conference is strong in girls hoops and people forget that sometimes. We’ve played pretty solid defensively all year.”

Kaneland was scheduled to face two-seed Plano on Wednesday in the regional semifinal, with results unavailable before press time.

The winner of Plano/Kaneland was set to face No. 1 Burlington Central or No. 5 Hampshire on Friday, Feb. 15, in Burlington.

Brooke Harner (22) leads the defensive wall with help from Ally VanBogaert (34) in the third quarter against Sandwich on Tuesday, February 12 at Burlington. Photo by John DiDonna
Brooke Harner (22) leads the defensive wall with help from Ally VanBogaert (34) in the third quarter against Sandwich on Tuesday, February 12 at Burlington.
Photo by John DiDonna
Emma Bradford keeps the ball away from Sandwich defenders during Kaneland's 50-14 Regional win at Burlington on Tuesday.     Photo by John DiDonna
Emma Bradford keeps the ball away from Sandwich defenders during Kaneland’s 50-14 Regional win at Burlington on Tuesday. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's Sarah Grams knocks the ball loose in the second quarter at the Burlington regional on Tuesday, February 12. Kaneland led the whole game, winning 50-14. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s Sarah Grams knocks the ball loose in the second quarter at the Burlington regional on Tuesday, February 12. Kaneland led the whole game, winning 50-14.
Photo by John DiDonna
Ashley Prost goes up for two points in the third quarter of Kaneland's Regional victory over Sandwich on Tuesday, February 12. Photo by John DiDonna
Ashley Prost goes up for two points in the third quarter of Kaneland’s Regional victory over Sandwich on Tuesday, February 12.
Photo by John DiDonna
Brooke Harner (left) and Ashley Prost grapple for the ball against Sandwich during their regional game at Burlington on Tuesday, February 12. Kaneland won the contest easily with a 50-14 romp. Photo by John DiDonna
Brooke Harner (left) and Ashley Prost grapple for the ball against Sandwich during their regional game at Burlington on Tuesday, February 12. Kaneland won the contest easily with a 50-14 romp.
Photo by John DiDonna
Caroline Heimerdinger goes up for a shot in thefirst quarter of Kaneland's 50-14 regional win against Sandwich on Tuesday, February 12. Photo by John DiDonna
Caroline Heimerdinger goes up for a shot in thefirst quarter of Kaneland’s 50-14 regional win against Sandwich on Tuesday, February 12.
Photo by John DiDonna

NFHS announces rules changes

in Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Soccer by

Indianapolis—That National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently announced some changes for soccer and football; all of which will take effect starting with the 2013-14 season.

Soccer Clarification on coach-player communications
The NFHS announced new rules clarifying when and how coaches can communicate with their players.

Effective with the 2013-14 season, coaches and players can communicate during a stoppage of play for an injury. Rule 3-3-1c(1) still requires a coach or appropriate health-care professional to have the approval of the referee before entering the field; however, teams may now huddle and receive coaching instruction during the stoppage, which previously was prohibited.

Another change in regard to communication involves electronic devices. While using electronic communication devices to communicate with on-field players is still prohibited, the use of electronic devices on the sideline is allowed.

“If a coach is on the bench and wants to use a tablet-type device to video and then at halftime show the players the rights and wrongs, they are able to do that,” said Mark Koski, NFHS director of sports and events and liaison to the Soccer Rules Committee.

Koski said the previous rule banned all communication devices, including cell phones, from the sideline. If such devices were found, a caution could have been issued.

Another of the seven rules changes involves the intentional fouling of a player who has an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The new rule states that if a player commits a foul while attempting to deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the goal is scored, that player will be issued a yellow card. If the foul is considered serious foul play, however, the player will still be issued a red card.

If a goal is not scored, the player who committed the foul will be issued a red card.

“The committee doesn’t want to penalize a team twice for the same play by having the goal scored against them, then to lose a player,” Koski said. “On the other hand, when a red card is issued when the shot is missed, the team is still suffering just a single blow.”

Revisions to two rules now require players to check in with the scorer/timer—or the referee if there is not a scorer/timer in place—prior to entering the game when a goal is scored or when a player is injured and removed from the field. After checking in, the player must wait until he or she is beckoned onto the field by the referee.

“This rule helps with game organization and allows officials to know who the players of record are,” Koski said.

At the start of the half, the players can enter the field of play without being beckoned by an official.

Another rules change for 2013-14 involves uniforms, specifically the use of tape on socks. Rule 4-1-1c requires both socks to be the same color and consist of a single dominant color. The change results in the use of tape that is applied outside of the sock, which now must be a similar color to the area of the sock to which it is applied.

The Soccer Rules Committee also approved a change to the definition of the “Free Kick.” The committee agreed that just tapping the top of the ball was not “putting it in play.” For the ball to be considered “in play,” it must be kicked and move.

Soccer is the fifth-most popular sport for boys and fourth among girls at the high school level. According to the 2011-12 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 411,757 boys are involved in soccer and 370,975 girls participate in the sport.

Football New rules regarding helmets that come off players
In an effort to continue minimizing the risk of injury in high school football, three additional rules will take effect next season to address helmets coming off players’ heads during games.

These three risk-minimization additions were among 10 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 18-20 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

As a follow-up to last year’s rules change that requires players to sit out one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live, the committee approved three additional rules that are extensions of last year’s change.

An illegal personal contact foul was added to Rule 9-4-3 to state that “no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.”

In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation “for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.”

“With its continued focus on risk minimization, the committee determined that a helmet-less player shall not block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came completely off,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine. “The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul.”

The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down—and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent—the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official’s time-out shall be called.

“Player safety has been and will continue to be the top priority for members of the NFHS Football Rules Committee,” said Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association. “These rules changes regarding helmet-less players are more examples of the group’s commitment to minimize risk within the game.”

Perhaps the most significant rules change next season will be one that reduces the penalty for pass interference. While the 15-yard penalty will remain for both offensive and defensive pass interference, the loss of down has been removed for offensive pass interference and the automatic first down has been eliminated for defensive pass interference.

“Offensive and defensive pass interference and the penalty structure related to these fouls has been debated many times in recent years,” Garrett said. “Proposals that either deleted the loss of down or the automatic first down—but not both—failed to gain support among committee members. The proposal to eliminate both components, thus not upsetting the balance between offense and defense, was the key factor in the adoption of the new rule.”

Another change at high school football games next year will be the expanded use of communication devices. In specific situations, coaches, players and nonplayers will be allowed to use any form of communication technology.

This expansion of the rule allows the use of communication devices during authorized conferences outside the nine-yard marks, on the sidelines and during the halftime intermission. Use of communication devices by players except conferences outside the nine-yard mark continues to be prohibited.

In Rule 2-4-1, the committee clarified the rule approved last year regarding the definition of a catch, which stated that a receiver is required to establish possession of the ball and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession—regardless of the opponent’s action.

“The committee clarified the definition of a catch such that an airborne player who has forward progress stopped inbounds and is carried out of bounds by an opponent before contacting the ground is awarded a catch at the spot of forward progress,” Colgate said.

In Rule 9-3-8, the committee added another provision to the rule enacted last year regarding contact by the kicking team against members of the receiving team. The new provision stipulates that the kicking team may initiate contact once the receiving team has initiated a block within the neutral zone.

The committee also approved the addition of a 15-yard penalty to the existing option of accepting an awarded fair catch for kick-catch interference.

Finally, in Rule 8-3-3, the committee clarified that the touchdown scoring team is the only team that can score on a try, and in Rule 1-5-3 the committee modified the rule regarding the wearing of towels.

Football is the No. 1 participatory sport for boys at the high school level with 1,121,744 participants in the 2011-12 school year, according to the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS through its member state associations. In addition, the survey indicated there were 1,805 girls who played football in 2011-12.

Rough patch

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Tom VanBogaert, No. 21 (left to right), Tyler Carlson, No. 10 and Dan Miller, No. 22, fight for the ball under the basket in the first quarter of the Knights varsity home game against DeKalb on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Boys basketball losing streak hits 4
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Most teams hit a stretch of the season where it seems like a win can’t be bought.

Currently, Kaneland is in that quagmire, but time still remains to get back to the torrid winning levels of December and January.

The Knights saw their losing streak hit four games with three losses this week.

On Saturday, the Knights dropped a 66-46 bout with the host Wheaton Academy Warriors, while Friday saw DeKalb get revenge for a December loss to the Knights, 50-45 in Maple Park. Tuesday saw Kaneland fall to St. Charles North 61-50.

Kaneland is now 13-10 (6-2 Northern Illinois Big XII) as the Knights begin their final stretch of regular season games.

“These last two conference games are going to be difficult,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “They are against two quality teams in Morris and Rochelle. It makes it even more difficult since those games are on the road. We will see what we are made of.”

Against the Warriors, the Knights saw 16 points from Matt Limbrunner as the only double-figure output.

WA took an early 10-2 lead after the first quarter and extended the chasm to 26-12 at halftime. Kaneland held steady in the third quarter and the buzzer sounded with KHS down 42-28 before Wheaton Academy widened the lead by six to close the game out.

Wheaton Academy went 24-for-34 from the foul line to hurt Kaneland’s chances.

Against DeKalb, the Knights fell victim to just the fifth win all year for the visitors.

Dan Miller had a game-high 17 points in a losing cause.

Teammate John Pruett added 16. Kaneland was 13-for-19 from the foul line.

DHS took a 7-3 lead after one quarter of play, while the Knights battled back for a 17-16 lead going into the halftime break.

DeKalb took the upper hand in the third frame and took a 38-33 lead, before the 12-12 stalemate in the fourth quarter.

“DeKalb played an excellent game against us,” Johnson said. “They limited our looks at the basket on offense and penetrated our defense towards the end of the 4th quarter. It was a tough lose, but I was proud of how our seniors (Dan Miller and Matt Limbrunner) performed on their Senior Night.”

Against St. Charles North on Tuesday, Kaneland battled to a 28-28 tie at halftime. St. Charles North remained one step ahead of the Knights throughout the second half, opening up a six-point lead through the third and extending the lead to 11 by the end of the game.

Limbrunner led the way with 19 points, followed by Tyler Carlson’s 11.

The Knights take on host Morris on Friday, Feb. 15. Kaneland beat the Redskins on a Carlson layup back on Nov. 30, 2012.

Tom VanBogaert, No. 21 (left to right), Tyler Carlson, No. 10 and Dan Miller, No. 22, fight for the ball under the basket in the first quarter of the Knights varsity home game against DeKalb on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Tom VanBogaert, No. 21 (left to right), Tyler Carlson, No. 10 and Dan Miller, No. 22, fight for the ball under the basket in the first quarter of the Knights varsity home game against DeKalb on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Dan Miller gets jammed up after grabbing a rebound in the third quarter against DeKalb on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Dan Miller gets jammed up after grabbing a rebound in the third quarter against DeKalb on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland Junior Tom VanBogaert beats the DeKalb defenders to the basket in the third quarter at home on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland Junior Tom VanBogaert beats the DeKalb defenders to the basket in the third quarter at home on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner gets some points in the second quarter of Kaneland's home varsity game against DeKalb on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner gets some points in the second quarter of Kaneland’s home varsity game against DeKalb on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland's John Pruett (5) battles a DeKalb defender in the third quarter on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s John Pruett (5) battles a DeKalb defender in the third quarter on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Drew David gets a pass off to Tyler Carlson under the basket in the third quater when Kaneland faced DeKalb on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Drew David gets a pass off to Tyler Carlson under the basket in the third quater when Kaneland faced DeKalb on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Success at 1st postseason stop

in Featured/Wrestling by

Photo: Dane Goodenough, wrestling at 122 pounds, gets a momentary upper hand against a Belvidere North foe at the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS grapplers have fine 2nd-place showing in Sycamore
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If it weren’t for the hosts, KHS could brag even more. But KHS isn’t the bragging type of team; it is more the diligent worker-type.

With 144.5 team points during Saturday’s Class 2A Sycamore Regional, KHS earned second place overall.

Sycamore’s 210 total was the runaway winner, while Rockford Boylan had 108.5 total points and a third-place finish.

Glenbard South (99.5), Belvidere North (83.5) and Rockford East (76.5) stuck slots four through six, and Burlington Central (49.5), St. Francis (45) and Belvidere (41) rounded out the nine-team field.

KHS finished third overall at the 2012 DeKalb Regional, showing improvement over a year’s time.

“They’re just totally focused, you can see it,” KHS coach Monty Jahns said, “They put forth the effort, and I’m impressed.”

Esai Ponce earned the 132-pound championship mantle by beating Belvidere North’s Psalm Frambro in 4:23 and a 10-2 major decision in the final over BC’s Brady Weinrich.

Teammate Sonny Horn was crowned regional king of the 138-pound class after beating Sycamore’s Andrew Larsen in 5:16 and moving on to pin St. Francis’ Alex Alcantara in 3:10.

Knight Dan Goress continued the KHS domination of the middle weights by taking the 145-pound class. Goress completed a 19-4 technical fall over Rockford East’s Frank Eslora and an injury default over Sycamore’s Dylan Foster.

Heavyweight Zach Theis captured the group’s title by sticking a :22 pin on Belvidere North’s Jake Rodgers and winning 2-0 over Rockford East’s Mike Estergard in the final.

Vet Stephen Gust was second overall in the 113-pound group. Gust won a 4-2 OT battle with Belvidere North’s Riccardo Roman before losing to Sycamore’s Kyle Akins in a 15-0 technical fall in the final.

At 120-pounds, Connor Williams managed a third-place finish after an 11-6 win over Mason Castillo of Rockford East and a 6-0 sweep of Sycamore’s Collin Druck.

At 220 pounds, senior Nick Sharp’s third-place finish was highlighted by a 3:50 pin over Boylan’s Zach Matthews and a 1:30 pin over Matthews in 1:30.

At 106 pounds, Adam Mish finished fourth. In the consolation bracket, Mish took a 5-1 decision over Burlington Central’s Nick Maldonado before losing to Sycamore’s Bryce Hansen 7-5 in the third-place encounter.

“This week, it’s a little different with the numbers down. There’s a little bit more fine-tuning and individualized coaching,” Jahns said.

KHS sends its exemplary individuals to the Rochelle Sectional on Saturday, Feb. 9, along with athletes from the Pontiac, Rock Island and Morton Regionals.

Kaneland's Adam Mish (106 lbs) wraps up his St. Francis opponent during the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday, February 2 at Sycamore High School. Adam went on to win this match with a pin. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s Adam Mish (106 lbs) wraps up his St. Francis opponent during the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday, February 2 at Sycamore High School. Adam went on to win this match with a pin.
Photo by John DiDonna
Dane Goodenough (122 lbs) gets a momentary upper hand against a Belvidere North foe at the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday, February 2. Photo by John DiDonna
Dane Goodenough (122 lbs) gets a momentary upper hand against a Belvidere North foe at the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday, February 2.
Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's Sonny Horn is about to pin his Burlington Central opponent during his first match at the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s Sonny Horn is about to pin his Burlington Central opponent during his first match at the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday.
Photo by John DiDonna
Dan Goress gets a quick pin against Belvidere North early in the Regional  tournament on Saturday at Sycamore. Photo by John DiDonna
Dan Goress gets a quick pin against Belvidere North early in the Regional tournament on Saturday at Sycamore.
Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's Austin Parks tries to escape from his Rockford East opponent during his match at the IHSA Sycamore Regional tournament on Saturday, February 2 at Sycamore High School. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s Austin Parks tries to escape from his Rockford East opponent during his match at the IHSA Sycamore Regional tournament on Saturday, February 2 at Sycamore High School.
Photo by John DiDonna
Zack Russell works his way out of a situation during his match against Rockford East at the IHSA Sycamore Regional tournament on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna
Zack Russell works his way out of a situation during his match against Rockford East at the IHSA Sycamore Regional tournament on Saturday.
Photo by John DiDonna

Back on track

in Featured/Girls Basketball by

Photo: Brittany Kemp moves the ball around an IMSA defender during Kaneland’s 52-19 romp on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Girls secure NIB12 win in Yorkville, smash IMSA
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—At the very least, Kaneland girls basketball won’t be headed into the season’s homestretch on the way down.

After a 7-0 beginning to the season, KHS had been mired in a stretch that saw them go 5-10.

This weekend brought a much-needed refuge from that slide, as the Lady Knights took it to Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora on Saturday by a final of 52-19, and also involved a bit of revenge on Yorkville in a 42-35 Friday win.

Kaneland also travelled to Marengo on Tuesday night, where the Lady Knights dominated in a 50-34 win.

The Lady Knights are 15-10 and 5-4 in Northern Illinois Big XII action, with just one regular season game left.

Against the Lady Titans, the Kaneland crew was down 6-2 early in the first quarter before tying the score at 6-6 by the end of the frame and going on a 35-2 run to cinch it. The run included a 19-0 third frame in favor of Kaneland.

KHS went 19-of-54 from the field and 11 players found the scoring column, with Aly O’Herron and Sarah Grams putting up eight points each.

Facing Yorkville, which earned a Jan. 4 victory in Maple Park, the Lady Knights began matching shot for shot against the Lady Foxes and were tied at eight after the first quarter.

In the second, Ashley Prost’s long two-pointer with 4:43 to go in the half made it 15-12. Vanessa Gould’s conversion off an Emma Bradford feed with 3:09 left made it 17-14, and Brooke Harner’s steal and basket with 1:39 closed out the second quarter scoring at 19-14.

KHS maintained the lead and got two key baskets from Bradford to up the lead to six with 50.1 ticks left, and Kaneland saw itself up 28-22 after three.

The Lady Knights helped themselves with three-pointers from Grams and O’Herron in the fourth, and went 8-of-10 from the foul line to put it out of reach. KHS saw as big as an eight-point lead in the close affair.

“We played together today,” Bradford said. “One of the girls said ‘we played as a fist today and not a hand.’ We were on the same page today and it really worked out.”

KHS coach Ernie Colombe saw the win as welcome, especially after stifling personnel like Mackenzie Bollinger to 10 points.

“The team rose to the challenge. We talked about rebounding, and we rebounded well. We still had a few too many turnovers, but we got better in that area and stepped up,” Colombe said.

Tuesday saw another solid effort from the Lady Knights, as they turned a two-point first-quarter advantage into a 19-point lead after three. Kaneland’s defense held Marengo to just four points in the second period, and they added to the lead with a 10-point third-period advantage.

Bradford led the way with 14 points and seven rebounds. Post also reached double figures, with 10 points to go with eight rebounds. O’Herron added seven and Harner put up six. Grams scored five and contributed a season-high seven assists. Kelly Wallner chipped in four points, and Ally VanBogaert and Marina Schaeffer each put in two.

Kaneland goes to Rochelle on Thursday, Feb. 7, before playing Sandwich on Tuesday, Feb. 12, as part of the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional.

Brittany Kemp moves the ball around an IMSA defender during Kaneland's 52-19 romp on Saturday, February 2. Photo by Patti Wilk
Brittany Kemp moves the ball around an IMSA defender during Kaneland’s 52-19 romp on Saturday, February 2.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Ashley Castellanos (12) , Brittany Kemp (35) and Katherine Brinkman (10) run a tight defense against IMSA on Saturday, February 2. The Lady Knights dominated, winning 52-19. Photo by Patti Wilk
Ashley Castellanos (12) , Brittany Kemp (35) and Katherine Brinkman (10) run a tight defense against IMSA on Saturday, February 2. The Lady Knights dominated, winning 52-19.
Photo by Patti Wilk
An IMSA defender hits the deck while Jessica Jablonski (43) takes off and Ashley Castellanos (12) grabs the ball in the fouth quarter of Kaneland's 52-19 win Saturday, February 2. Photo by Patti Wilk
An IMSA defender hits the deck while Jessica Jablonski (43) takes off and Ashley Castellanos (12) grabs the ball in the fouth quarter of Kaneland’s 52-19 win Saturday, February 2.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Ashley Prost drives to the hoop on the way to a score in the third quarter of Kaneland's 52-19 win at IMSA on Saturday, February 2. Photo by Patti Wilk
Ashley Prost drives to the hoop on the way to a score in the third quarter of Kaneland’s 52-19 win at IMSA on Saturday, February 2.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kelly Wallner shrugs off an IMSA defender and goes to the hoop in the fourth quarter at IMSA on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kelly Wallner shrugs off an IMSA defender and goes to the hoop in the fourth quarter at IMSA on Saturday.
Photo by Patti Wilk
The scoreboard says it all late in the game as Katherine Brinkman (10) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter of Kaneland's 52-19 win at IMSA. Photo by Patti Wilk
The scoreboard says it all late in the game as Katherine Brinkman (10) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 52-19 win at IMSA.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Boys downed by WC foe, beat Yorkville

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Matt Limbrunner bends the rim on a dunk in the fourth quarter on Friday. Kaneland traveled to Yorkville and pulled out a win, 47-39.
Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS stands at 14-6 as home stretch beckons
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The good news is Kaneland hasn’t felt what it’s like to be on the losing end of many games this season.

The bad news on Tuesday night was that the team received a reminder of what it does feel like to lose.

Dealing with a fast-paced West Chicago visitor on both ends of the floor, the Knights fell victim to a game that blew up in the third quarter. A mini-comeback got the score back to 54-43 by game’s end.

Kaneland did earn another needed Northern Illinois Big XII conference win on Friday night in Yorkville in a 48-39 affair.

KHS has its current mark at 14-6 (6-1 NIB-12).

On Tuesday, a pair of baskets by Dan Miller and another pair by John Pruett gave Kaneland an early 9-3 edge in the first quarter before West Chicago scored seven straight to close the quarter with a one-point lead.

A Tyler Carlson three-pointer made it 12-10 for the hosts. West Chicago tied it at 12 before a Pruett basket with 4:22 made it 14-12. Miller’s shot with 2:33 to go gave KHS its final lead at 16-15 in the second frame. The Wildcats scored the final six of the quarter for a 21-16 halftime lead, and outscored the Knights 21-10 to break the game open in the third.

While KHS outscored West Chicago 17-12 in the final eight minutes, the 27-10 run in the game’s middle spelled doom for the hosts.

“They made a lot of shots, they stepped up and knocked down shots,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I thought that was the difference; they shot with a lot of confidence. We weren’t very aggressive and didn’t do the things you need to do to win.”

Against Yorkville, Matt Limbrunner had a game-high 16, followed by 14 from guard Drew David.

David had three of the team’s six crucial trifectas.

The Knights and Foxes were tied at 14 after one quarter before KHS took a 33-28 lead at the half. The scoring slowed down with the Knights hanging to a 41-31 lead after three quarters.

Kaneland will host rival DeKalb on Friday, Feb. 8.

Kaneland's Drew David steals a pass from Yorkville in the second quarter of the Knight's 47-39 varsity win on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s Drew David steals a pass from Yorkville in the second quarter of the Knight’s 47-39 varsity win on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett goes up for a score in the second quarter of Kaneland's 47-29 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett goes up for a score in the second quarter of Kaneland’s 47-29 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner bends the rim on a dunk in the fourth quarter on Friday, February 1. Kaneland traveled to Yorkville and pulled out a win, 47-39. Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner bends the rim on a dunk in the fourth quarter on Friday, February 1. Kaneland traveled to Yorkville and pulled out a win, 47-39.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland's Matt Limbrunner fights for the ball against Yorkville on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner fights for the ball against Yorkville on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson adds some points in the third quarter of Kaneland's 47-39 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson adds some points in the third quarter of Kaneland’s 47-39 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Varsity Head Coach Brian Johnson, discussing strategy with assistant coaches and team during a fourth quarter timeout at Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Varsity Head Coach Brian Johnson, discussing strategy with assistant coaches and team during a fourth quarter timeout at Yorkville on Friday.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Bowling campaign ends in Schaumburg

in Bowling/Featured by

Photo: Angela Charhut

Lady Knights collect another dual win in final head-to-head
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—While the pins stopped falling after Saturday’s IHSA Sectional hosted by Schaumburg High School, Kaneland’s senior-laden lineup was able to see hard work pay off on Jan. 30 in the final dual opportunity of the year.

At Mardi Gras Lanes in DeKalb, the Lady Knights took it to visiting Lisle by a final of 2,604-2,425.

Ellissa Eckert bowled a team-high series of 509, followed by Morgan Wojciechowski’s 444.

Eckert’s 178 was good for team-high game, followed by a 176 by Wojciechowski.

Kaneland’s 2012-13 dual mark ended at 3-6.

At Schaumburg, Lake Park’s 5,481 pin count was tops, along with fellow advancing team Schaumburg’s 5,478.

Kaneland finished in 13th out of 17 squads with a mark of 4,126, 90 behind Streamwood.

Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Angela Charhut, Ellissa Eckert, Anne Salerno, Amanda Strayve and Morgan Wojciechowski.

Soccer club serves community

in Community Sports/Regional by

Photo: Members of the Kaneland United Soccer Club that worked on a
community service project include (back, left to right) Brad Simmons, Tyler Chapman, 10, Tucker Jahns, 10, Soren Bailey, 10, Garrett
Robinson, 10, Trevor Jahns, 13; and (front) Tommy Musaras, 10, Lane Robinson, 8, Sean Gannon, 8, Zander Webster, 9, and Jacob Simmons, 10.
Courtesy Photo

Kaneland—Several members of the boys Kaneland United Soccer Club (KUSC) spent part of a recent weekend helping the residents and staff at Wayside Cross Ministries in Aurora on Jan. 19.

The players and several parent chaperones sorted, stocked and organized clothes and supplies in the organization’s warehouse and the Community Store. Wayside Cross Ministries is an 85-year-old Christian-based organization that assists men, women and children with shelter, job training, meals, and counseling services, with the goal of creating financial and socio-economic independence.

Travel Club Director Brad Simmons said it is important for the players to be well-rounded and to realize the importance of volunteering and helping others.

“They need to understand that being a good person goes beyond playing sports and the importance of giving back to others,” Simmons said.

To honor players who volunteer at least three hours of time to a group, KUSC awards a Community Service patch. The patches are intended to recognize the kids and promote volunteerism throughout the entire club.

They’re rollin’

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner scores two of his 22 points on the way
to beating Sterling on Saturday. Photos by John DiDonna

No need for last-second magic against Sterling
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—No mad celebrations on the floor were needed this time.

While slightly different than the dramatic win over rival Sycamore last week, the Knights came away happy with a big win over visiting Sterling, 60-33, on Saturday evening.

KHS improved to 12-6 (5-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) with the crossover victory, and has now won six in a row. The Knights have not lost since Dec. 29, 2012, at the Plano Classic.

“The team is truly playing as a team in all aspects of the word,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “They have grown to trust each other on the defensive end of the court and understand how to work well together offensively. This team is a hard-working group with a bunch of selfless individuals.”

Inside man Matt Limbrunner paced the victors with a game-high 22, while Tyler Carlson added 10.

“As for Matt, we expected a big year from him. He had a nice and productive summer. We were hoping that he would take the next step in his game and become a player that other teams would constantly have to worry about. We still think that he can do even more, but at this point he is playing very well,” Johnson said.

Before the Knights’ tip-off, Johnson and Co. recognized Rich and Nancy Miller with the fourth annual “Friend of the Program” award. The Millers, uncle and aunt to Knight player Dan Miller, are both Kaneland High School graduates. Rich and Nancy’s heavy and passionate involvement took to the stratosphere once the boys’ and girls’ teams made it to the 1982 State tournament.

Starting in 1986, Rich coached his son Denny’s team in the town league. This was the first year the league was put together, with the head coaches leading the charge.

From 1989-1992, Rich and Nancy became members of the Kaneland High School Boosters.

In 1991 and 1992 they proudly watched their son, Denny, as he competed on the varsity basketball team. On senior night, all the parents wore matching T-shirts onto the court.

During the 1996 season, Rich began keeping the scorebook for Kaneland High School basketball games, and continued to do so through 2004. Throughout those years, Rich also helped referee the Little Dribblers’ games in Maple Park and Elburn.

Kaneland travels to Yorkville on Friday, Feb. 1.

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Crossed over

in Featured/Girls Basketball by

Photo: Vanessa Gould tries to get by a Sterling defender on Saturday evening. The Lady Knights came back, but lost the home contest, 52-40. Photo by John DiDonna

Lady Knights drop tussle to Sterling
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It wouldn’t be a nice way to end the season, but for KHS girls basketball, the beginning of the end won’t even start for another two weeks.

Facing conference mate Sterling on Saturday afternoon, the visiting Lady Warriors took it to the Lady Knights by a final of 52-40.

Kaneland fell to 12-10 in its only competition of the week, and remains 4-4 in Northern Illinois Big XII East division play.

Kaneland has lost three skirmishes in a row, and is now 4-6 in its last 10 outings.

On an afternoon that saw KHS shoot 14-for-47 from the field, perimeter threat Aly O’Herron tallied a game-high 18 points, while teammate and post presence Ashley Prost put up 10. O’Herron also put up four-three pointers and three steals on a six-for-12 day from the field.

Sterling got the jump early with a 12-3 lead after the first eight minutes. The Lady Warriors maintained a lead going into halftime with a 24-12 advantage.

Kaneland countered somewhat and closed the deficit to 34-24 after three before Sterling outscored the hosts 18-16 in the final frame.

In additional news, Kaneland was informed of postseason details last week.

The Lady Knights, sectional finalists of a year ago, are part of the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional as a third seed.

Kaneland is set to play No. 6 Sandwich on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. That contest follows the matchup between (4) Sycamore and (5) Hampshire at 6 p.m.

“We have been scouting and game planning for each upcoming opponent and also for each potential regional opponent since the sites were announced awhile ago,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We are trying to keep the team focused on the upcoming game and taking things one game at a time. As a staff, we are preparing for the regionals by scouting and putting some films together, etc. We are also working on a few changes that we feel may help us gain an edge at the end of the season.”

The Kaneland-Sandwich victor plays No. 2 Plano of the Interstate Eight Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. The Spartans-Whip-purs winner will match up with top-seed Burlington Central that same evening at 6 p.m.

The regional title game is Friday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m., with the winner headed to the Genoa-Kingston Sectional and joining winners from Stillman Valley, Sterling and Woodstock.

KHS travels to Yorkville on Friday, Feb. 1. The Lady Foxes bested Kaneland back on Jan. 4 in a 39-26 encounter in Maple Park.

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Wrestlers drop regular season finale

in Wrestling by

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—There would be no repeat of last year’s final regular season stop.

Closing out the 2012-13 campaign before the postseason begins this weekend, the Knights travelled to Batavia to face the former conference rival Bulldogs on Friday and were handed a 42-30 loss.

It failed to be as joyous as last year’s tiebreaker win over the Bulldogs. Nonetheless, the Knights finish the regular slate at 13-13, a slight improvement over last year’s 11-12 tally.

The Knights found wins from Stephen Gust in a 113-pound bout, thanks to a technical fall, 15-0. After a 120-pound forfeit for Luke Kreiter, George Strang also took a forfeit at 132. Reliable asset Esai Ponce took his 138-pound encounter by 4-1 decision, and Dan Goress took his 145-pound match in a scant 42 seconds.

Kagen Workman won his 152-pound match by 13-4 major decision to round out the victories.

Up next for KHS is the Sycamore Individual Regional for Class 2A.

Joining the Knights at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, are schools Belvidere, Belvidere North, Burlington Central, Glenbard South, Boylan Catholic of Rockford, Rockford East, the host Spartans and St. Francis of Wheaton.

Qualifiers head to the Rochelle Sectional a week from Saturday, and the top team in regionals heads to the dual team sectional in Rochelle on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

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