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Vanik hopes to go far in Fargo

in Wrestling by

Kaneland junior qualifies for Nationals
SUGAR GROVE—After becoming the youngest Knight ever to medal at the State Tournament back in March, Riley Vanik kept the momentum going into the offseason.

But after winning the 2015 Greco-Roman State Meet in the 185-pound category in late April in Lockport, Ill., and winning the Second-Chance Qualifier in Freestyle in the same weight class May 30 in Sycamore, Vanik punched his ticket to the Asics Vaughan Cadet and Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., July 18-25. The top two place winners will advance to the national tournament in each weight class and division.

Vanik will wrestle in the Cadet division, which features athletes born between 1998-2000. This is the first year Vanik has competed in the Freestyle and Greco-Roman styles.

“I decided to come out to do this because I saw that the best wrestlers in college for folkstyle had also had a Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling background,” Vanik said. “This made me realize that to be the best wrestler that I can be I need to diversify my wrestling and try something new out.”

The Cadet and Junior National Championships is considered the top youth event in the United States. Wrestlers from every state travel to the tournament, held in the Fargodome, to test their skills against the nation’s best Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers. College coaches and scouts are a common sight at the tournament.

Support Vanik

Vanik’s trip to the National Championships in Fargo, N.D., is a self-funded endeavor. He is raising money to pay for his expenses, which include his
Team Illinois gear, travel expenses, tournament entry fees and room and board.

To help Vanik fund his trip, call (630)-338-7769.

Vanik has been training non-stop since the fall of 2014. After his successful sophomore season at Kaneland, where he earned a sixth-place medal at the IHSA State Tournament at 160 pounds, he began training with coaches Justin Perch and Izzy Martinez at Izzy Style Wrestling in Addison, Ill., four days a week.

“When I first thought about competing (in Greco-Roman and Freestyle), I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t too familiar with the rules, and the technique was pretty awkward for me. But with the help of my coaches I started to pick it up pretty quickly,” Vanik said. “I knew that I was going to do fairly well with my many years of Folkstyle wrestling background, but I had no idea that I would be going to Fargo this year. That came as a huge surprise.”

Before he embarks to Fargo, there’s no rest for Vanik. A three-day camp at the Martinez Wrestling Facility with coaches Nate Martinez and KHS coach Joe Orosco is coming up, followed by the Relentless Pursuit camp at Oak Park-River Forest High School in Oak Park, Ill., July 6-10. He then travels to Champaign, Ill., for training camp with the rest of Team Illinois from July 13-18 before heading to Fargo to compete in the National Championships.

“It can be pretty difficult balancing everything at times, but I have gotten the hang of it. I’ve had to prioritize all of my commitments and put them into a schedule of what has to get done and how important is it,” he said.

Vanik looks forward to the challenges that await him in Fargo.

“I’m feeling pretty excited about Nationals. I think it will be a fun experience, and I can’t wait for all the great competition. This is the biggest tournament in the nation, and I get to show off my skills against the best wrestlers in my weight class,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty confident right now, and I have high hopes. I’m going to give it my all to win it, and I believe I can, but no matter what happens I’m just happy that I have the chance to compete there.”

It’s a matter of style
There are three primary wrestling styles: Freestyle, Greco-Roman, and Folkstyle.

Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are the International/Olympic wrestling styles. Freestyle is different than Greco-Roman simply because Greco-Roman does not allow types of scoring below the waist (no leg attacks or trips). The main difference between Freestyle and Folkstyle is that in Freestyle competition (and Greco-Roman), you do not do anything while you’re on the bottom besides trying not to get turned. This is called par terre. Folkstyle—which is what is contested at the high school and collegiate levels—is the more traditional form of wrestling in the United States. The main difference between Folkstyle and Freestyle wrestling is that in Folkstyle competition, there are moves from the bottom position.

IHSA releases classifications for 2015-16 school year

in Baseball/Boys Basketball/Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Boys Track/Football/Girls Basketball/Girls Cross Country/Girls Soccer/Girls Track/Golf/Softball/Tennis/Volleyball/Wrestling by

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) released the classifications breakdown for the 2015-16, and Kaneland will not see any changes to their sports landscape from the 2014-15 season.

• Baseball: 3A (four classes)
• Basketball (boys and girls): 3A (four classes)
• Cross Country
(boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Cheerleading: Middle
(three classes—small, medium, large)
• Dance: 2A (three classes)
• Football: Determined at the
end of the regular season
• Golf (boys): 2A (three classes)
• Golf (girls) AA (two classes)
• Softball: 3A (four classes)
• Scholastic Bowl: AA (two classes)
• Soccer (boys and girls): 2A (three classes)
• Track and Field (boys and girls):
2A (three classes)
• Volleyball: 3A (four classes)
• Wrestling: 2A (three classes)

Enrollment for the high school is up 19 students—1,310 to 1,329 —from the 2014-15 school year to the upcoming year. Since classification cut offs vary from sport to sport depending on the number of schools that participate in each sport throughout the state, the Knights had some close calls this upcoming season. Kaneland was 49 students away from moving up to 4A in basketball, 17 students away from moving to 4A in volleyball, and 11 away from moving up to 3A in track and field.

Heading ‘West’

in Boys Basketball/Kaneland by

Kaneland’s Johnson new boys basketball coach at West Aurora
MAPLE PARK—The West Aurora High School School Board approved the appointment of Brian Johnson as its new head boys basketball coach on Monday. Johnson had been the head boys coach at Kaneland High School for the past six years, where he won two conference championships and three regional championships.

He replaces the legendary Gordie Kerkman, who coached the Blackhawks for 39 years before retiring this spring.

Johnson said he called Kerkman after he had announced his retirement to thank him for his mentorship and all Kerkman has contributed to Illinois basketball. Before becoming head coach at Kaneland, Johnson had served as an assistant to Kerkman for one year at West Aurora, and they had kept in touch ever since.

“When we spoke, Gordie encouraged me to apply for the position,” Johnson said. “I was excited about the prospect of coaching a historic program in a great basketball community. I enjoyed my brief stay at West Aurora and was impressed by the school’s student body, academic excellence, and administrative leadership. I consider West Aurora to be one of the top-5 high school basketball jobs in the state and am very excited to have this opportunity.”

Johnson has hit the ground running since his appointment and is, right now, in his first week of the Blackhawks’ two-week summer basketball camp.

“Defensively, one thing I know for sure is that we are going to continue the West Aurora tradition of playing hard-nose, man-to-man defense,” Johnson said. “Offensively, by the end of camp I’ll know what kind of weapons we have and how we’ll need to play to make the most of them.”

Johnson commented that leaving Kaneland was not easy.

“I’ve had great players and great relationships here with my teams, students, faculty, and staff members. When I told my team I was leaving, I explained that I needed to pursue my full potential as a coach just as I’ve told them they must pursue their full potential as players. They were very supportive of my decision and wished me luck. I received the same kind of support from principal Jill Maras and athletic director Peter Goff and will always be grateful for the time I spent here,” he said.

Johnson the ‘recommended candidate’ for West Aurora varsity basketball coach position

in Boys Basketball/Kaneland by

AURORA—Kaneland’s Brian Johnson on Tuesday was named the recommended candidate for the physical education teacher and head boys basketball coach vacancies at West Aurora High School, pending School Board approval on Monday, June 15.

Johnson has been the head varsity boys basketball coach at Kaneland High School since 2009, with an overall record of 99-68. Under his leadership, his teams have won three Conference championships and two Regional championships. Johnson is also a physical education teacher at Kaneland.

Prior to Johnson’s time at Kaneland, he served as a varsity boys basketball assistant head coach and physical education teacher at West Aurora High School. He also served as a varsity boys basketball coach, sophomore boys basketball coach and physical education teacher at Dundee-Crown High School.

Johnson obtained his Master’s Degree in teaching from Rockford College. Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Judson University.

Both Johnson and Kaneland Athletic Director Peter Goff declined to comment when contacted by the Elburn Herald.

Neahring to be inducted into coaches Hall of Fame

in Boys Basketball/Golf by

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) has announced that it will be inducting long-time Kaneland coach Ken Neahring into its Hall of Fame in a ceremony to be held at the Bone Center at Illinois State University on Saturday, May 2.

A former physical education and driver’s education teacher, he is being inducted as a “career coach”—a category that requires at least 30-years of coaching excellence.

Neahring began coaching boys’ basketball at Franklin Center High School, where his .825 winning percentage from 1977-86 produced multiple conference championships and the first regional and sectional championships in Franklin Center history—a period the school’s website calls its “basketball glory years.”

In 1986, Neahring accepted the head basketball coaching position at Kaneland High School where, in 1987, the Knights won the regional championship. He was replaced as head coach the following year, however.

While continuing to be an assistant football coach and girls’ softball coach at Kaneland, Neahring served as assistant men’s basketball coach at Waubonsee Community College. In 1998, he was again assigned head boys’ basketball coaching duties for the Knights, a position he held until his retirement from teaching in 2003. In total, he served as an assistant girls’ softball coach for 12 years at Kaneland and continues to be an assistant golf coach—a career that has now spanned 13 years. In all the sports in which he has been a head coach, he has posted a career winning percentage of .635.

Bruce Firchau, chairman of the IBCA Hall of Fame Committee, said Neahring was nominated for the Hall of Fame by his former assistant coaches. That nomination and Neahring’s coaching resume was reviewed last November by the IBCA Board of Directors, which approved him for induction this year.

The 43rd annual IBCA Hall of Fame festivities on Saturday, May 2, will begin with an afternoon reception at the host hotel, and conclude with a dinner at the Bone Center that is referred to as “The Academy Awards of Illinois Basketball.” The 1,200-seat dinner has been sold-out since March and is the largest banquet held on the Illinois State University campus.

“It’s a great honor to be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame,” Neahring said. “To be included in a fraternity of so many great coaches; it was unexpected. It is much appreciated, and it is the highlight of a wonderful career of coaching several generations of great young men and women. That has truly been a privilege. I loved every minute of it, and I continue to love being involved with Kaneland athletics as an assistant golf coach.”

Elburn youth wins State bowling title

in Bowling/Elburn/Middle School by

ELBURN—Mabel Cummins, an eighth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, finished in first place in the Illinois State Elementary School Association bowling tournament Saturday at Town and Country Lanes in Joliet, Ill.

Mabel‘s 10-game (scratch) total of 2,121 pins across the two-day event outpaced second place by 200 pins and helped her gain the highest overall score among all boys and girls in the competition.

Her per-game average of 212 set a new Illinois state record in the girls division, as did her high three-game series of 714.

Mabel started bowling at the age of 4, and the many years of practice helped her achieve national recognition last year with a win in the U.S.B.C. Youth Open National Championship and three gold medals in the AAU Junior Olympics. Mabel credits her success to great coaches and generous support from the owners of local bowling centers like Funway Entertainment and Yorkville Bowl, who make it possible for young strikers to compete in local tournaments and earn college scholarships.

Waubonsee makes first National Tourney appearance

in Girls Basketball/Waubonsee Sports by
Brooke Harner bringing the ball across mid-court against North Arkansas College on Thursday, March 19.
Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Knights making a difference 3 former Knights help
• Sarah Grams at guard (soph.)
• Brooke Harner at guard (soph.)
• Ashley Prost at forward (soph.)
Brooke Harner bringing the ball across mid-court against North Arkansas College on Thursday, March 19. Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Brooke Harner bringing the ball across mid-court against North Arkansas College on Thursday, March 19.
Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Three former Knights on basketball team
OVERLAND PARK, KS—The 2015 edition of Waubonsee Community College women’s basketball began the season with a new coach and big expectations.

Head coach Jim Sury took over the program after the retirement of long-time head coach Dana Wagner, and following the squad’s best season in school history.

In 2014, the Lady Chiefs won the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference title for the first time since 1993 and went undefeated (14-0) in league play for the first time ever. In Regional championship play, they got to the district championship game for the first time, and as runner-up, ended the season at 25-7 and a school record for total wins in a season.

This year, Waubonsee had its ups and downs early, falling to a conference record of 4-3 by mid-season. The sophomore-dominated team featured Brooke Harner, Sarah Grams and Ashley Prost, all from Kaneland; Bailey Klass from Yorkville; Lizzy Goll from Plano; and freshman Julianna Wadsworth from Oswego East. The team started to gel and caught its stride en route to rattling off five straight ISCC wins to put itself in a four-way tie for the conference lead. A last-second loss to Oakton CC in the final game of the season left the Lady Chiefs second in the conference with an overall record of 18-12.

Sarah Grams (13) playing defense in Waubonsee's 78-73 victory over North Arkansas College at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament on Thursday, March 19. Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Sarah Grams (13) playing defense in Waubonsee’s 78-73 victory over North Arkansas College at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament on Thursday, March 19.
Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Moving on to regional play, Waubonsee closed out February by beating Illinois Valley and Carl Sandburg Community College to earn its second-straight appearance in the Regional IV Division II title game. There, the Lady Chiefs created some “March Madness” of their own by beating McHenry County College 66-49 to advance to the NJCAA National Division II Tournament for the first time ever.

On March 18, in their first game of the national tournament in Overland Park, Kan., the 12th-seeded Waubonsee Chiefs almost pulled-off a stunning upset of 27-1 Monroe Community College from Rochester, N.Y.—a team which had three or more players at least 6 feet tall on the floor at all times. Rallying from a 17-point deficit midway through the second half, the Lady Chiefs fell just short in a 69-63 first-round loss.

Ashley Prost (30) defending North Arkansas College's Danielle Graves during the Lady Chiefs' 78-73 triumph, the first ever win for the program at the National Tournament Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Ashley Prost (30) defending North Arkansas College’s Danielle Graves during the Lady Chiefs’ 78-73 triumph, the first ever win for the program at the National Tournament
Photo submitted by Steve Moga to bdraper@elburnherald.com
Dropping into the consolation bracket, Waubonsee on March 19 made history by eliminating North Arkansas College 78-73 for its first win at the national tournament. WCC did so by making free throws down the stretch, with freshman forward Julianna Wadsworth connecting on 9 of 10 attempts from the charity stripe over the final two minutes to seal the historic victory.

Next, Waubonsee took on Phoenix College on March 20, where its fairy-tale season ended with a 69-59 loss. Phoenix led 41-25 at the half, never trailed in the game, and shot 47.5 percent from the floor, compared to the Lady Chiefs’ 36 percent. Wadsworth led all scorers with 20 points, but Phoenix had three players score in double-digits.

Regional rupture

in Boys Basketball by
Laura Gampfer KHS Boys Basketball at Central 3-6-15-2

Photo: Juniors Mitchel Groen (left) and Ryan David fight for a rebound Friday against Hampshire. Photos by Laura Gampfer

Kaneland survives Burlington Central, falls to Hampshire in Regional Championship
BURLINGTON, ILL.—A great defensive battle against Burlington Central March 4 saw Kaneland boys basketball shoot 11 free throws in the fourth quarter while scoring zero field goals to win 53-46.

Two nights later, the Knights could not overcome a 20-point first quarter deficit to the Hampshire Whip-purs in a 71-63 loss in the Class 3A Regional Championship.

Burlington Central struck first with a 10-4 run in the first five minutes of the contest. Rockets guard TaVonte Harris led the way with a pair of three-pointers en route to five first-quarter points. Kaneland kept themselves in it early thanks to aggressive play by guard Connor Fedderly (14 points) and forward Ryan David (14 points). Burlington Central sophomore Joseph Ratzek hit a trey at the end of the first frame to give the Rockets an 18-11 lead.
Laura Gampfer KHS Boys Basketball at Central 3-6-15-1
After Burlington Central center Ryan Fitzgerald scored four straight points to open the second quarter, Kaneland came out on fire offensively. A 4-0 run led by Fedderly (six points on two three-pointers in the quarter) cut the Rockets’ lead to two in the first two minutes. Although the Rockets matched their extremely fast offensive tempo with good ball distribution, they managed only seven points in the second frame, thanks to Fitzgerald and guard Andrew Wiss. Two-point field goals by David and guard Dylan Vaca (six points), along with a three-pointer by forward Steven Limbrunner and a trey by Fedderly, cut Burlington Central’s lead to 25-24 at halftime.

Burlington Central went on a 12-3 run in the first 3:45 of the second half. With the Rockets lead at 10, the Knights came roaring back behind three three-pointers from David, Vaca and guard Mark Lilly (10 points). Forward Zach Douglas’ two free throws allowed Kaneland to take the lead with 1:36 to go in the third quarter. The Knights took a 42-40 advantage into the final period of play.

The fourth quarter was both a defensive battle and perplexing offensive stalemate throughout most of the final frame. Both teams were held scoreless through the first 4:43 of the last quarter until Rockets’ guard Luke McCurdy hit his only two points of the contest—a field goal-to tie the game. David hit two free throws to give the Knights their first points of the quarter. As Kaneland kept drawing fouls late, the Knights proceeded to shoot nine more free throws—three from Lilly and six from Fedderly—without hitting a single field goal to seal the win for Kaneland.

“That’s what this team needs me to do. I’ve been there before; (I’ve) been the end-of-the-game guy for three years now. I’m pretty confident at the line,” Fedderly said. “I know that I’m a senior leader on this team. If I bring my level of intensity down, then everyone else will. I’ve been here four years. I know how to crank it up at the end and stay intense the whole time.”

Head coach Brian Johnson was pleased with his team’s effort.
Laura Gampfer KHS Boys Basketball at Central 3-6-15-10
“We kept getting stops. Even though we turned the ball over, we kept getting stops, and that’s the name of the game,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to keep teams to 44 points a game. They (Burlington Central) came out strong to start the third quarter. We just started hitting some big shots. Dylan (Vaca) hit a big three. Mark (Lilly) hit a big three. We had some big put-backs (and) some offensive rebounds. You gotta make good plays to win big games, (and) it’s not one guy who steps up. It’s a bunch of different guys who step up. It was definitely a unified effort.”

When asked if he’d ever coached a Regional game that didn’t have his team score a regulation basket in the fourth quarter, Johnson said, “Definitely not,” with a laugh.

On Friday, the No. 1-seeded Hampshire Whip-purs broke quickly out of the gate to start the first half. Hampshire went on a 6-0 run in the first 1:15 of the first quarter. Despite two early three-pointers by David (14 points), the Knights had a slow offensive attack to start the game. Kaneland committed five team fouls early on as its defense faltered, as well. Whip-purs forward Brennen Woods poured in 13 first- quarter points of his own as Hampshire led 30-10 after the first frame.

Kaneland slowly began to show some fire on offense in the second quarter. Center Jacob Gomes scored four straight points to begin the quarter for the Knights, and scores by Lilly (six points), Fedderly (three points) and forward Limbrunner (Kaneland game-high 20 points) helped the Knights to tally 13 points in the second frame. The Whip-purs tied Kaneland with 13 points of their own and took a 20-point lead into halftime.

Kaneland began a furious comeback to start the second half. Limbrunner fired three treys and Vaca (10 points) added one of his own. David and Douglas (four points) chipped in field goals as Fedderly showed early aggression on defense. Despite 13 third-quarter points scored by Hampshire, the Whip-purs were outscored by the Knights 18-13. Hampshire took a 56-41 lead into the final period of play.

“We were down by 20 (points) or so. We were all just talking at halftime about getting it (the deficit) down to 10,” Limbrunner said. “Get into the fourth quarter down by 10 (and) give us a chance to come back. You’ve just gotta fight hard and not give up. In the first half, our defense was not up to where we needed it to be exactly. We just needed to step it up more on defense.”

The Knights began a last-ditch rally in the fourth quarter. Limbrunner connected on two more three-pointers early on as Kaneland fans began chants of “MVP! MVP!” and the Knights cut Hampshire’s lead down to 11. Hampshire continued to keep the surging Knights at bay as Matt Bridges scored 10 points in the final period. Another trey by Vaca and two-of-two free throws by David cut the lead to 11 again late in the game. Limbrunner drilled his sixth three-pointer of the game to cut Hampshire’s lead down to eight with 29.4 seconds to go in the contest. The Knights would draw no closer as Hampshire retained possession in the final seconds to seal the win and the Class 3A Regional Championship for the Whip-purs.

“Steven (Limbrunner) was outstanding. (He) put on a show. What a way to go out as a senior,” Johnson said. “What Steven did tonight was special. He’s one of those kids that’ll be there (practicing) at 6 in the morning, working on his game whether you know it or not. He doesn’t tell anybody. He just goes and works.”
Laura Gampfer KHS Boys Basketball at Central 3-6-15-3
“We were down 20 (points) at the end of the first quarter. You can only fight so much. I’ll give credit to our guys. They never gave up and made a game out of it. You can’t dig a hole that big in the first quarter and expect to win the game. Hampshire’s a good team,” Johnson said. “They were able to find the open man and hurt us when we were trapping. That’s (having poor starts) been an issue for us all year. When we’ve started well, we’ve been in games. When we’ve started poorly, we usually lose by a lot. (Our boys) fought hard. Connor Fedderly (was) consistent and really worked hard, and so did Zach Douglas.”

Johnson took time to reflect on the 2014-15 season.

“At times we struggled, and we played poorly. At times we looked liked world-beaters and played well and played really hard. The season was an up and down roller coaster. At one point we were 2-7, and to finish 14-16; to be the only team to beat DeKalb (Barbs) in our league; to beat Central on their own floor, and the playoffs; that says something to how hard the boys worked, and how they never gave up,” Johnson said. “These guys stuck with it and fought hard.”

“We started off rough—I think 1-6. We just told ourselves (that) we can’t have a season like that,” Limbrunner said. “So we battled back and got to .500 midway through the season, I’m sure. Around mid-season, we just kept fighting and got ourselves to the Regional Championship.”

Knights rebound

in Boys Basketball by
Senior Zach Douglas had six points against Wheaton Academy Monday night.
Photo by Laura Gampfer
Senior Zach Douglas had six points against Wheaton Academy Monday night. Photo by Laura Gampfer
Senior Zach Douglas had six points against Wheaton Academy Monday night.
Photo by Laura Gampfer

Kaneland defeats Sterling, blasts past Wheaton Academy in Regional
KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball defeated the visiting Sterling Golden Warriors 74-60 on Friday night, and then beat the Wheaton Academy Warriors 67-53 in the opening round of the IHSA 3A Regional Tournament at Burlington Central on Monday.

The wins give the Knights a 13-15 overall record and a record of 7-6 in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

In last week’s home finale, Kaneland controlled the lead throughout the contest and outscored Sterling in three of four quarters of play. Dylan Vaca led all scorers with 19 points. Also in double-digit points for the Knights were forwards Mitchel Groen with 13 points, Ryan David with 12 points and center Jacob Gomes with 10 points.

Wheaton Academy opened the Friday contest on a 4-0 run in the first 1:30. Two early turnovers by Kaneland, combined with great ball distribution by the Warriors, turned into points for Wheaton Academy forwards Evan Williams and Anthony Polinski, as well as guard Christian Smith.

The Knights answered right back with an 11-0 run in the last five minutes of the first frame, courtesy of forwards David (Kaneland and overall game-high 17 points) and Zach Douglas (six points), and guards Mark Lilly (13 points, including eight-of-nine free throws) and Tanner Robertsen (four points). Lilly set the tone for the entire game, setting up his teammates for scoring opportunities while looking for his own shot and aggressively drawing fouls throughout the night. Kaneland led Wheaton Academy 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.

The Knights out-hustled the Warriors in the second quarter, sparking a 6-2 run in the first four minutes of play. Aggressive defense, good offensive ball distribution, a trey by forward Steven Limbrunner and a three-point-play by Gomes got the Knights off and running. The Warriors cut a 10-point deficit down to five in the last three minutes of the frame with three-pointers from Christian Smith, Polinski and guard R.W. Rienow. A last-second trey by Lilly helped give the Knights a 30-22 lead at halftime.

Kaneland opened up its lead even further in the second half, as the Knights exploded for 20 third-quarter points. Lilly continued his aggressive play on both sides of the court as David scored eight points. Vaca chipped in five points, including four consecutive. Guard Connor Fedderly (eight points) fired a three-ball, while Robertsen hit two from the free throw line and forward Groen (five points) sank a two-pointer, as well. The Warriors tallied 13 points in the frame behind five points from Williams, another trey by Christian Smith and two-point baskets by guard Bryce Sandberg and forward Tommy Blum. Kaneland took a commanding 50-35 lead—their biggest of the night—into the final period of play.

Both teams looked to take advantage of the other being over the foul limit early in the fourth quarter. Although the Warriors, who outscored the Knights 18-17 in the final frame, cut Kaneland’s lead to 10, thanks in part to three three-pointers by Sandberg and Polinski, a total of 13 free throws by Gomes, Groen, Lilly and Fedderly (five apiece for the latter two) and great team defense helped seal the win for the Knights.

Lilly’s ability to draw fouls late was a key factor in Kaneland’s victory.

“He’s (Lilly) a point guard. That’s a leadership position. I thought by far that was his best floor game he’s had all year,” said head coach Brian Johnson. “He just competed. He made free throws down the stretch, and he made good decisions with the basketball. That’s something that we’ve talked about all year, and it’s nice to see it come to fruition.”

David knew the Knights had to ramp up the effort.

“We just tried to bring our intensity to the next level, come out here and leave it all on the floor,” David said. “Me and Mark (Lilly) were just on the same page tonight. Everything was just working. When it came down to the end, he had some big free throws throughout the entire fourth quarter.”

The Knights on Wednesday took on Regional host Burlington Central in round two of the tournament, with results unavailable as of press time.

“It’ll be a tough game,” David said. “I think we can do it. We competed against them earlier in the season. I think it’ll be a good game.”

Knights lose close contest to Yorkville

in Boys Basketball by

Suffer four-point loss to West Chicago Tuesday
KANELAND—Although the Kaneland boys basketball team kept the score much closer this time than in its previous game against Yorkville, the Knights once again fell to the Foxes 54-52 on Friday night.

On Tuesday, it was more of the same, with the Knights dropping a 60-56 game to visiting West Chicago.

Kaneland’s overall record sits at 11-15 and 6-6 in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

The first quarter against Yorkville began with an evenly-matched defensive battle between both teams as Knights guard Connor Fedderly (five points) controlled Kaneland’s offense early. Forward Zach Douglas hit two early free throws, and guard Mark Lilly and forward Mitchel Groen (four points) showed good hustle early in the game. Additional free throws by Lilly and Douglas, a two-point basket by guard Dylan Vaca (seven points) and a three-pointer by Fedderly gave the Knights their first 11 points of the contest.

The Foxes led the Knights by one at the end of the first frame.

The second quarter found Kaneland struggling to find the open man early. Still, center Jacob Gomes led the Knights with five second-quarter points. Two-point shots by Lilly and Vaca and a trey by forward Ryan David (Kaneland and overall game-high 17 points) contributed to Kaneland’s scoring, as well. However, the Foxes tightened up their defense and turned up the heat on offense, going on an 11-6 run in the first five minutes. Bondurant led the way with six points as the Foxes out-scored the Knights 18-12 to take a 30-23 lead at halftime.

The third quarter saw the Foxes go on a 4-0 run in the first 4:19, including four straight points by Payne. Kaneland’s team foul trouble (six) and early difficulty at the free throw line enabled Yorkville to gain its biggest lead of the night—11 points—midway through the frame. The Knights fought back, outscoring the Foxes 14-11 behind four points from David and continued scoring by Lilly, Vaca, Groen and Douglas. Kaneland cut Yorkville’s lead to four at 41-37 heading into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, David was relentless on offense, with 10 points, including two three-pointers, as the Knights took the lead with 5:20 to go in the game. The Foxes answered right back with treys of their own—Bondurant hitting two—as the lead shifted back and forth. A three-point play by David gave the Knights the lead 52-51 with 46.5 seconds remaining. With 12.6 seconds left, Yorkville guard Dan Kaczmarek buried a three-pointer to give the Foxes a 54-52 advantage. Vaca missed a last-second three-point shot attempt for Kaneland as Yorkville hung on for the win.

“Ryan (David) stepped up and made some big shots. Unfortunately down the stretch, we had a lot of turnovers. I thought our free throw shooting was pretty poor. That altogether equals a tough game, but Ryan made some tough shots,” head coach Brian Johnson said. “I though we had some nice defensive stops down the stretch to get back in the game. Unfortunately, we turned the ball over when we were up by one, instead of making them (Yorkville) foul us and us hitting shots at the free throw line.”

Johnson also addressed his decision to start Lilly and Douglas ahead of guard Tanner Robertsen and Gomes.

“Zach’s been playing extremely well. He brings a little different energy. He’s a senior, and I thought it was time to maybe mix some things up—take Tanner out of the lineup (and) put Mark (Lilly) in. I thought the way we’d been starting in games the last week we needed to have a change. It was a little different look, but sometimes roles change,” he said.

On Tuesday West Chicago jumped out to an early 17-11 lead, before the Knights closed the lead to 31-29 at halftime. An evenly-matched second half helped West Chicago hold the Knights at bay for the victory. Vaca led all scorers with 20 points, while Steven Limbrunner had 17.

Sterling travels to the KHS gym this Friday at 7 p.m.

Sports recap
Don’t see your results in the Elburn Herald? Have your coach fax them to (630) 365-2251 or email them to sports@elburnherald.com.

Boys Soph. Basketball
Feb. 24 vs. West Chicago—The Knights won 36-28. Jack Marshall led KHS with 15 points, while Luke Calabrese had six. Jake Hed and Garrett Hukle each had four points.

Girls lose to Burlington Central

in Girls Basketball by
Senior Ally Van Bogaert (32) gets pressured by a defender during the fourth quarter, while Morgan Weber (20) and coach Ernie Colombe look on. The Knights only scored four points to close out the final quarter. Photo by Mary Paulson
Senior Ally Van Bogaert (32) gets pressured by a defender during the fourth quarter, while Morgan Weber (20) and coach Ernie Colombe look on. The Knights only scored four points to close out the final quarter. Photo by Mary Paulson

Great effort falters in fourth quarter
SYCAMORE—In a game for the ages, the Kaneland girls basketball team led state second-ranked Burlington Central for three-and-a-half quarters of play. However, a furious 10-point fourth quarter comeback propelled the Rockets to a 44-38 win over the Knights in round two of the IHSA Class 3A Regional Tournament.

The season-ending loss gave Kaneland a final overall record of 18-10.
The Knights came out with aggression on both sides of the court from the opening tipoff. Kaneland guard Camri Conley (seven points, eight rebounds, six assists and three-of-five from the free throw line) played with relentless intensity, setting up her teammates with scoring opportunities, as well as creating her own with mid-range shots and hard drives to the basket. All of the Knights’ starters scored in the opening frame, led by Conley, guard Morgan Weber (team-high 11 points, three-of-eight from three-point range, five rebounds and two steals) and center Bailey Crimmins (nine points, five rebounds) as Kaneland went on an 8-0 run in the first 4:30 of the contest. Burlington Central had trouble with inside shooting early on, but found its outside shot late as the Rockets drilled four three-pointers, led by junior Sam Pryor. The teams were tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw Kaneland’s trademark defense begin to clamp down on the Rockets as Burlington Central still had difficulty locating its inside shot. The Knights went on a 10-3 quarter-long drive as Weber hit another trey, and shots from Crimmins, forward Vanessa Gould (two points, eight rebounds) forward Ally Van Bogaert (seven points) and a free throw by Conley sparked the run. The Rockets’ three points came in the form of junior Kayla Ross. The Knights went seven-for-10 from two-point range in the first half while Burlington Central was only one-for-10 from two-point range, and Kaneland out-rebounded its opponents 22-12 as it led the Rockets 24-17 at halftime.

The third quarter began with Conley continuing her relentless command of the offense. Despite early full-court pressure by the Rockets, Weber got a bucket off a fast break after Pryor scored five straight points (including a three-pointer) for Burlington Central. Treys by Van Bogaert (one-of-nine from three-point range on the night) and Weber opened up the biggest lead of the night for Kaneland at 12 (34-22) with 2:15 remaining. The Knights outscored Burlington Central 10-7 to take a 34-24 advantage into the final frame of play.

The Knights’ overall game began to unravel in the fourth quarter. Although the continued leadership of Conley helped keep Kaneland in the lead for the first 6:45 of the last frame, the Rockets finally began to find their inside shot and became more aggressive on defense down the stretch. A two-point shot by Conley and two free throws by Crimmins were all the Knights could muster as the team suddenly went cold on offense as their defense began to falter. Forced shots by Kaneland turned into rebounds and scoring opportunities for Burlington Central as the Rockets went on a 10-2 run in the first 5:14. Key shots by Ross, free throws by senior Aly DeTamble and three-pointers by Pryor and junior Shelby Holt, as well as Holt’s three-point play, cut the Knights’ lead to one with two minutes to go in the game. Senior Alison Colby hit two-of-two free throws as the Rockets took the lead with 1:15 remaining. The Knights continued to intentionally foul as Burlington Central pulled away with five three throws in the last 30.1 seconds. Burlington Central outscored the Knights 20-4 in the final quarter to seal the comeback win for the Rockets.

Kaneland head coach Ernie Colombe offered thoughts on his team’s season-ending loss after the game.

“They’re (Burlington Central) a good team, and they stepped up and they made more plays (in the fourth quarter) than we did,” he said. “Our kids played hard the whole game. The effort was there the entire night. (It) just came down to hitting a couple shots at the end. They got us (on) the turnover once or twice there in the last couple (of) minutes, and that hurt. In the end, they just hit some shots.

“We (the coaching staff) told our kids in (the locker room) we’re proud of their effort. It wasn’t for lack of effort (or) lack of intensity. We had that for the entire 32 minutes. Our future is bright. Kudos to them (the Rockets,) but it was a good experience for us. We showed we can play with teams like this.”

Colombe also gave his take on Conley’s aggressive gameplay.

“She’s one of our best players. She’s got the ability to be one of the best players in the area, and I think tonight you saw why she had the ability to control the tempo,” Johnson said. “She goes in there; she rebounds. She’s playing defense. She’s running the offense. She’s a big key for us, and we’re really proud of the way she’s progressed from the start of the year until now.”

Crimmins also weighed in on the contest.

“We played a great effort throughout the entire game. No one wasn’t hustling for every ball,” she said. “We rebounded really well. I think we took really good shots; we played defense. But it just didn’t fall our way. We went in with the mentality to play as a team. No one needs to be a hero. No one needs to go out and try to win the game for us. We kept our composure. We played with the momentum and just really hustled.”

Crimmins then reflected on the season as a whole.

“I think we had some tough losses, but overall it was really successful. Next year, we’ll be even more successful,” she said.

Up and down

in Wrestling by

Photo: Junior Austin Parks celebrates after earning fifth place at last weekend’s IHSA State Individual Tournament. Parks and the Knights took on Geneseo Tuesday night in the team Sectional as a team, but lost to the Leafs 43-26. Photo by Stephanie Vanik

Two Knights bring home individual medals; team falls in Sectional
KANELAND—It’s never easy to end a season on a loss, but the future looks bright for Joe Orosco’s Knights wrestling team.

The Knight grapplers celebrated two State medal winners this past weekend in junior Austin Parks and sophomore Riley Vanik. But a 43-26 loss to Geneseo in the Dual Team Sectional saw the Knight’s season end Tuesday. Kaneland finished as the sixth-ranked team in Class 2A, according to IllinoisMatmen.com.

Over the weekend at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, four Knights set their sights on individual glory at the State Individual Tournament. All four Knights won their opening-round match.

Parks was the highest-placing Knight, earning a 7-6 win over Lavall McNulty of Lincoln-Way West in the fifth-place match at 182 pounds. Parks won his opening match over Brandon Pettis of Hubbard 9-6 and a 3-1 sudden victory over Mahomet-Seymour’s Hunter Crowley in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal, Parks lost via technical fall to eventual State-champion Xavier Montalvo of Montini. In a chance to wrestle in the third-place match, Parks lost to Triad’s Alex Crehan 3-1 before prevailing in the fifth-place match.

Vanik became the youngest Knight to ever medal at the State tournament with his sixth-place showing at 160 pounds. He earned a 15-4 major decision over Carmel’s Nathan Morris before losing to Mt. Zion senior Jacob Morgan 6-3. A pin over Champaign Central’s Amir James gave Vanik a chance to get into the third-place match, but he lost 5-0 to Pontiac’s Jake Lanning. In the fifth-place match, a rematch with Morgan ended in a 3-1 overtime loss, but Vanik earned his medal with a sixth-place showing during the tournament.

Junior George Strang and sophomore Colin Gussman also competed at the tournament. Strang, wrestling at 145 pounds, won his opening match 7-4 over Kendall Miller of Rich East before losing 7-0 to eventual third-place winner Jake Eckenrod of Mt. Zion. In wrestlebacks, Anthony Swindell of Carmel ended Strang’s weekend with a 7-4 decision.

Gussman, wrestling at 170 pounds, won a high-scoring opening round over Rich South’s Cody Ralston 18-15 before getting pinned by eventual runner-up Cole Witzig of Triad. A 8-4 loss to Lakes junior Jared Smith ended Gussman’s weekend in wrestlebacks.

“The boys wrestled very well against some tough competition,” Orosco said Sunday. The good thing is they will be back next year.”

On Tuesday at Geneseo in the team Sectional round of 16, senior 285-pounder Zach Thielk gave Kaneland a 6-0 lead early with a pin over Cole Howard. Sophomore Austin Kedzie extended the Knight lead to 11-0 with his 16-1 technical fall at 106 pounds over Charlie Schlindwein. Geneseo would take a 12-11 lead with pins at 113 and 120 pounds before sophomore Matt Redman would take it back with a 16-0 technical fall at 126 pounds over Chase Boone.

The 16-12 lead after five matches was the last time KHS held the lead over the fourth-ranked Leafs. Two more Geneseo pins at 132 and 138 pounds put Geneseo up 24-16.
Strang got the Knights within four with a 15-6 win over Ethan Kennedy at 145 pounds, but Geneseo would rattle off four-straight decisions at 152, 160, 170 and 182 to grow its lead to 37-20. Senior Tom Price-Vanik earned the final Knight win of the season at 195 pounds with his pin over Justin Scott. A KHS forfeit at 220 pounds set the final at 43-26.

“We are hoping to add to our (individual) State qualifiers next year by increasing the number of our wrestlers who are participating in freestyle and greco this spring,” Orosco said. “We also need to commit to time in the weight room to get stronger.”

Final 4

in Wrestling by
Team Sectional information
The Knights will travel to Geneseo at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, with an opportunity to qualify for the Team State Tournament. Fourth-ranked Geneseo is the favorite, but the sixth-ranked Knights were only four points behind the Leafs when the teams met in January.

Four Knights proceed to State, team Sectional looms
STERLING, ILL.—The hits keep coming from the Knights.
Four individuals from coach Joe Orosco’s varsity lineup qualified out of the Sterling Sectional to the Individual State Tournament, which will begin Thursday at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

George Strang
2nd Place, 145 pounds
Record: 27-12
Strang at Sterling earned a first-round bye before dispatching 12th-ranked (IllinoisMatmen.com) Bryce Sandoval of East Peoria 13-6. A 12-6 decision over Joliet’s Cameron Haney put Strang in the final against Daniel Close of Ottawa

Strang will open up the State meet against Rich East’s Kendall Miller, a senior with a 35-12 record.

Riley Vanik
4th Place, 160 pounds
Record: 32-10
Vanik earned a first-round bye and then defeated Cody Baldridge of Morris 7-2 before losing to Geneseo’s Josiah Cropp 5-2 in the semifinal. Vanik pinned Sterling’s Tyson Hall in 4:27 to earn his spot in the third-place match, where he lost to Pontiac’s Jake Lanning 7-3.

Sixth-ranked Vanik will open the State meet against Carmel junior Nathan Morris, ranked 5th with a 28-2 record.

Colin Gussman
3rd Place, 170 pounds
Record: 32-9
Parks earned a first-round bye before pinning Limestone’s Ervin Durking in 3:18. In the semifinal, Parks lost a close 5-4 battle with Trevor Schmidt of Lincoln-Way West. A 12-8 decision over Washington’s Ethan Sperry got Parks to the third-place match. Parks was awarded third place via injury by Geneseo’s Ryan Pitra.

The eighth-ranked Parks will open the state meet against 11th-ranked Brandon Pettis, a 39-1 senior out of Hubbard.

Austin Parks
3rd Place, 182 pounds
Record: 25-6
Gussman earned a first-round bye and then proceeded to defeat Lincoln-Way West’s Anthony Bendy 5-3. In the semifinal, Gussman lost to eventual champion Jake Warner (41-3, top-ranked wrestler at 170) of Washington by technical fall. Gussman defeated Sycamore’s Michael Beaudoin 5-3 to get into the third-place match, where he used a 3-1 decision over Geneseo’s Cole Hunzeker to secure third place.

The seventh-ranked Gussman will open the State meet against sixth-ranked Cody Ralston, a junior out of Rich South with a 32-9 record.


Editor’s note: In the print edition of the Feb. 19, 2015 Elburn Herald, we mixed up the names of Austin Parks and Colin Gussman. They are correct here on the online version. The Elburn Herald regrets the error.

Late momentum

in Girls Basketball by

Girls basketball wins final home game, opening round of Regional
KANELAND—Before the last home game of the season, the Kaneland girls basketball team honored senior players Emily Grams and Ally Van Bogaert. After the honors were presented, Van Bogaert led the Knights with 13 points—including three-of-six from three-point range—in a 41-30 win over the Sterling Golden Warriors.

A win over St. Edwards on Monday during the opening round of the Sycamore Regional helped the Knights continue through the State Tournament.

The wins boosted Kaneland’s record to 18-9 overall and 6-7 in the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference.

Kaneland against Sterling showed defensive pressure early on as they held their opponent to eight points in the first quarter. Golden Warriors guard Gabby Sandoval (19 points) scored half of her team’s points, while forward Jailyn Borum and guard Denajha Phillips combined for the rest. Knights guard Camri Conley (two points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal) continued her leadership on offense, setting up her teammates as guards Jennifer and Morgan Weber each connected from downtown. Center Bailey Crimmins (12 points with five rebounds) scored four points to help Kaneland to a 10-8 advantage at the end of the quarter.

The Knights came out in the second quarter with a balanced attack on offense and a smothering defense to back it up. Forward Vanessa Gould (eight points and five rebounds) hit two-of-two from the free throw line early as she and Crimmins scored all of the Knights’ 10 points in the second quarter. Kaneland’s defense continued it’s aggressive play, creating Sterling turnovers and holding the Golden Warriors to just five points. Sandoval, Borum, center Lauren Fritz and forward Rashel Robinson scored for Sterling as Kaneland took a 20-13 lead into halftime.

Although both teams showed offensive prowess in the second half, it was Kaneland forward Ally Van Bogaert who came out on fire from the start. She drilled three three-pointers and a two-point field goal as she led the Knights with 11 points in the third quarter. Gould scored the other two points for Kaneland as Sandoval and Borum each hit three-pointers of their own for Sterling. The Knights went on an 11-7 run the first seven minutes of the quarter and took a 10 point lead of 33-23 heading into the final frame.

Sterling attempted to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, as Sandoval hit two-of-two from three-point range and Robinson split two from the line for the Golden Warriors. However, those were the only points Sterling scored for the rest of the game. Though Van Bogaert found herself in trouble with three fouls, she, Conley, Gould and Crimmins scored eight points for the Knights. A change of tempo on offense, combined with aggressive rebounding and ever-solid defense sealed the win for Kaneland.

The Knights on Monday night traveled to Sycamore to take on the St. Edward Green Wave in the IHSA Class 3A Regional Tournament. Led by forward Van Bogaert’s 13 points—including three-of-eight from three-point range—the Knights withstood a furious second-half comeback by St. Edward to advance with a 39-37 win.

Kaneland’s defense played a major role in the team’s first-half dominance, holding the Green Wave to only 10 points at halftime. The Knights’ ability to create turnovers and out-rebound St. Edward on both sides of the court (35 total) were also contributing factors. Guard Camri Conley (two points and a team-high eight rebounds) continued to be Kaneland’s leader on the floor, with guard Morgan Weber (11 points) in fine form, as well.

The second half saw the Green Wave come roaring back to tie the game with 3:30 to go in the fourth quarter. A re-energized St. Edward defense, partnered with a resurgent offensive game, kept the Knights on their toes. Green wave forward CeCe Rapp led her team with 13 points and an inside game that nearly got the better of Kaneland’s defense. Leading by two, Crimmins (seven points, five rebounds and two steals) made a game-saving steal with six seconds to go in the game. Crimmins’ key play, along with Van Bogaert’s 11 second-half points, proved to be the difference in Kaneland’s all-important victory.

Round two of the IHSA Class 3A Regional Tournament will feature the Knights against the top-seeded Rockets at 6 p.m. Wednesday (results not available before press). The Knights lost 44-38 and ended their season with an 18-10 record. See next Thursday’s paper for complete game coverage.

Photos by Ben Draper

3 of a kind

in Boys Basketball by

Boys basketball loses three in a row
KANELAND—The Knights on Friday night simply had no answers for the DeKalb Barbs’ relentless offense and overpowering defense. DeKalb overwhelmed the Knights 60-37 on the Barbs’ home floor.

On Saturday night, Kaneland would falter again—this time at home—as the Larkin Royals defeated them 68-51.

The Knights continued their mini-skid Tuesday evening, losing to Geneseo 59-53 at home.

Kaneland’s overall record sits at 11-13 and 6-5 in the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference.

DeKalb was off and running from the very beginning of Friday’s game and never let up. The Barbs were ultra-aggressive on both sides of the court as Kaneland committed early turnovers and forced shots continuously against DeKalb’s stifling defense. The Barbs went on a 21-3 run in the first quarter as Barbs guard/forward Michael Pollack hit two of his three three-pointers. Guard Rudy Lopez added an additional trey, and contributions from forward Luke Davis and guard/forward Jace Kitchen helped build Dekalb’s commanding lead. Only a quarter-ending three-pointer by guard Dylan Vaca (team-high 11 points) saved Kaneland from a complete first-frame shutout.

The Knights were again out-gunned by DeKalb in the second quarter despite Vaca showing poise at the free throw line (five-of-seven). The Barbs went on a 19-8 run in the second frame, led by two slam-dunks and a three-pointer by Kitchen. Another trey by Pollack and field goals by guard Ethan Conroy and forward Robert Mitchell put DeKalb up 40-11 at halftime. Kaneland scored eight points behind Vaca, center Jacob Gomes (four points) and forward Zach Douglas (two points.)

Kaneland began to show signs of life in the second half as it outscored DeKalb 15-14 and 11-6 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. In the third frame, guard Connor Fedderly scored all of his five points and showed the relentless aggression that has become his trademark on both sides of the court. In the third, Vaca hit a three-pointer, forward Ryan David scored all of his four points, guard Tanner Robertsen split two from the line and Gomes scored two on a dunk. The Knights were also more aggressive on the boards as they went on an 8-5 run to start the second half. However, foul trouble was Kaneland’s undoing as it committed 10 in the third quarter alone. Kitchen, Davis and guard Cole Tucker combined to hit eight free throws for DeKalb as it led 54-26 heading into the final period of play.

With starters on the bench in the fourth quarter, Kaneland found inspiration in the form of forward Steven Limbrunner, who hit three-of-three three-pointers for nine points while guards Kevin Fajardo and Jacob Marczuk each split a pair from the line. However, substance won over inspiration on the night as the Barbs padded their huge lead with six additional points on free throws from Conroy and field goals from forwards Ahmed Gadim and Terrell Farrell. The Barbs’ first-half offensive barrage was just too much for the Knights to overcome.

Kaneland head coach Brian Johnson gave his take on his team’s blowout loss after the game.

“They (DeKalb) came out with a lot more energy than we did. They were kind of a team on a mission in that first quarter,” he said. “They did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do; they did a great job of making us feel uncomfortable on offense. Defensively, we really couldn’t play ‘D,’ because it was fast break after fast break, or open shot after open shot.”

Johnson praised Fedderly’s play on both sides of the court.

“He plays hard all the time. He was trying to be a leader on the floor by just working hard. That’s who Connor is,” Johnson said. “He’s probably one of our hardest workers, and he wasn’t going to give up. No matter what the end score was, I knew Connor was going to put forth the max effort. That’s just how he plays.”

Johnson also evaluated the performance of Limbrunner and other players who came off the bench in the fourth quarter.

“They play hard. A lot of the times, those guys do our scout stuff. So when they get a chance, they want to play hard,” Johnson said. “Steven (Limbrunner’s) a senior (and) he can catch fire, and he made some nice shots. He was ready to shoot those open jumpers. He plays hard, he’s a great kid (and) has a great work ethic, and I’m glad he had some success tonight. That whole group was playing hard and just trying to finish up the game strong, and that’s all you can ask.”

On Saturday, the Knights again fell behind early in their home loss to the Larkin Royals. Despite 23 points from Vaca, Kaneland could not overcome a 22-point third-quarter onslaught by the visitor.

Tuesday saw the Knights enter the fourth quarter up 46-39, but the Leafs outscored KHS 20-9 in the final frame to steal the win on the road 59-53. David had a team-high 18 points, while Lilly had 13 and Vaca 11 points.

The varsity boys go on the road this Friday to take on Yorkville at 7 p.m.

Photos by Mary Paulson

Feb. 19 sports recap

in Boys Basketball/Girls Basketball by

Don’t see your results in the Elburn Herald? Have your coach fax them to (630) 365-2251 or email them to sports@elburnherald.com.

Girls Basketball

Feb. 6 @ Yorkville—A tight game got out of hand when Yorkville went on a 16-6 run on their way to a 35-17 win over the Knights. Kristen Siebert led the Knights with seven points and seven rebounds, while Carley Elliott had six points.
Feb. 7 vs. Ottawa—The visiting Pirates bested the Knights 35-31, despite a Kaneland comeback. Siebert led with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Jamie Martens put in nine points and eight rebounds. Sydney Davidson had 10 rebounds to go along with five points.
Feb. 12 vs. Sterling—In their season finale, the Knights turned a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter to a 34-20 win. Siebert led with 10 points and five rebounds. Jenna Harvell had eight points, while Addie Ringel had four points and eight rebounds. Elliott had five points. The Knights ended the year with a 16-9 overall record, and a 9-4 record in the Northern Illinois Big XII, earning second place in the conference.

Sophomore Basketball

Feb. 11 @ St. Charles North—The North Stars beat the Knights 55-36. Jake Hed led the Knights with 13 points. Luke Calabrese had six points, Garrett Hukle had five points and Josh Pollastrini had four points.
Feb. 13 @ DeKalb—The Knights beat DeKalb 39-31. Pollastrini led the team with 13 points, with three three-pointers. Hukle went four-for-four from the free throw line and finished with 10 points, while Jack Marshall went five-for-six from the free throw line to finish with nine points.
Feb. 17 vs. Geneseo—The Knights buried Geneseo 52-22, behind Brock Harner’s 18 points. The Knights allowed 12 points in the first quarter, then clamped down on defense, allowing only seven, two and one points over the final three.Marshall had nine points, Hed had eight points and Hukle had six in the win. The Knights sit at 13-9 overall, 18-3 in Northern Illinois Big XII play.

Knights wrestlers win Regional

in Wrestling by
Sophomore Colin Gussman was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik
The Knights dominated the Belvidere Regional Saturday, earning the team’s sixth wrestling title in school history. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
The Knights dominated the Belvidere Regional Saturday, earning the team’s sixth wrestling title in school history. Photo by Stephanie Vanik

10 Knights advance to Individual Sectional; team to Dual Sectional
BELVIDERE, ILL.—For the sixth time in school history—and second since joining Class 2A—the Kaneland varsity wrestling team took home the team championship at Saturday’s Belvidere Regional.

Led by four individual championships, Joe Orosco earned his second tournament win as head coach in grand fashion, easily outdistancing the Regional field with 170 points. Northern Illinois Big XII conference-mate Sycamore was second with 132 points, while the historically tough Sandwich team of the Interstate 8 was third with 109.

Sophomore Colin Gussman was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Sophomore Colin Gussman was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

By winning the Regional crown, the Knights advance to face Geneseo in the team Dual Sectional Quarterfinal. But before that happens, it’s time for the individual Knights to seek personal glory.

At Belvidere, George Strang (145 pounds), Riley Vanik (160), Colin Gussman (170) and Austin Parks (182) all took home the top spot in their respective weight classes.

Strang, a junior, began his day with a pin over Sycamore’s Samm Cottone before earning a 6-4 win over Sandwich’s Anthony Rivas. In the final, Strang got a 7-5 win over Marengo’s Joe Mier to win the championship.

The sophomore Vanik dominated his early matches, with a pin over Boylan’s Fernard Harris in 1:16 and a major decision over Rochelle’s Alex Eckhardt before squaring off against Sycamore’s Michael Ernster in the final. Vanik used a 6-3 decision to secure the title for the Knights.

Another sophomore Gussman earned a first-round bye before defeating Sandwich’s Alex Maisonet 6-4. In the final it was all Gussman, winning 6-2 over Belvidere’s Gage Brewer 6-2.

Parks, a junior, also had a first-round bye before pinning Peter Konstantacos of Boylan in 1:27. In the final, Parks outdistanced Sycamore’s Christopher Malone—ranked fifth in 2A—9-6.

There were two more Knights that made the championship match, but came away with runner-up honors.

Matt Redman, a sophomore wrestling at 126 pounds, earned a first-round bye before dropping a 7-0 decision on Burlington Central’s Nick Maldonado. In the final, Redman lost to Sandwich’s Tommy Dale 3-1 in overtime.

__jraustinparksSenior Tom Price-Vanik was another Knight who enjoyed a first-round bye before quickly dispatching Burlington Central’s Matt Overstreet via pin in 30 seconds. It was Marengo’s Justin Dauphin, who is on IllinoisMatmen.com’s honorable mention list at 285 pounds, that pinned Price-Vanik in 4:32.

Four more Knights battled for third-place honors—and the final individual qualifying positions in their weight classes—with all four succeeding and punching their tickets to the Sterling Sectional.

Sophomore Austin Kedzie pinned Marengo’s Landen Pfieffer in 3:34, but lost a close 3-2 decision to Sandwich’s Nevin Thielk. It took a pin over Yves Worou of Belvidere to get to the third-place match, where Kedzie pinned Rochelle’s Justin Hernandez in 3:29.

Junior George Strang was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Junior George Strang was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

Senior Adam Mish pinned Sycamore’s Levi Peters in just 49 seconds, but was pinned by eventual champ Christian Arias of Belvidere, who came into the Regional with a 38-1 record. Mish coasted into the third place match via a bye before earning a 13-2 major decision over Sandwich’s Jacob Newberry.

Junior Zac Parker pinned Belvidere’s Enrique Morales in 4:31 before losing a 1-0 decision to Sandwich’s Kyle Eighner, the eventual champion. Parker came back to dispatch Rochelle’s Eli Keating 6-0, and rolled to a 6-2 win in the third-place match over Burlington Central’s Kyle Blankenburg.

Senior big man Zach Thielk, wrestling at 285, earned a first-round bye before losing to Sycamore’s Devin Knight in an overtime ultimate tiebreaker. Thielk then pinned Will Lawhorn of Rochelle before winning 9-2 over Sandwich’s Jason Howell in the third-place match.

Sophomore Riley Vanik was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title. Photo by Stephanie Vanik
Sophomore Riley Vanik was one of four Knights to win an individual Regional title.
Photo by Stephanie Vanik

The 10 individuals now travel to Sterling on Saturday for a shot to qualify individually to the State Final, set to take place Feb. 19-21 at State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill.

The Knights will get a rematch at the Sectional with Geneseo—a team that edged the Knights 32-28 back on Jan. 15—on Feb. 24.

“I’m looking forward to the rematch,” Orosco said.

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