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Boys Basketball - page 5

Rough patch

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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

Boys downed by WC foe, beat Yorkville

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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

They’re rollin’

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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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Super Fans

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On Saturday, Rich and Nancy Miller were presented with the “Friends of the Program” award from the Kaneland basketball program. Rich and Nancy are both Kaneland graduates and support Kaneland sports in every way possible. Varsity Head Coach Brian Johnson (left) presented the Millers with their award. Photo by John DiDonna

Drew it up

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Photo: Drew David beats the defense to the basket in the first quarter against Sycamore on Tuesday. Drew went on to hit a 3-point buzzer-beater to win the game, 43-42. Photo by Patti Wilk

David’s clutch 3 beats rival Sycamore; KHS also downs L-P
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Your boys basketball team is 11-6, 5-1 in the Northern Illinois Big XII setting, and 10-2 in its last 12 contests.

Plays like the one that ended Tuesday’s win over Sycamore in Maple Park provide plenty of looks into why the Knights’ fortunes are turning positive.

With the Knights owning possession with 11.5 seconds remaining and down by two, Drew David eventually got the ball after several touches and sank a three-pointer with under two ticks left in the game.

The clock ran down before Sycamore could manage another play, resulting in a 43-42 win for the host Kaneland crew, which has won five straight.

“It’s a huge win, because they were a team we hadn’t beat yet,” David said. “We were trying to (get it to) Matt (Limbrunner) and try to get an easy layup, because they were switching the whole time, and they covered everything.”

David is used to similar finishes on the court, having helped defeat DeKalb with a late three pointer earlier in the season.

Sycamore enjoyed a 15-13 lead after one and a 28-21 lead after two frames.

Sycamore struck first again in the second half and had a 30-21 lead 31 seconds into the quarter, but two Limbrunner (12 points) buckets closed it to 30-25 with 5:42 remaining. Limbrunner struck again from inside with 3:56 to go to close within 32-27 with 3:56 to go.

Kaneland’s final flurry of the third frame included a David basket, Cole Carlson shot and a Limbrunner attempt off the glass to tie the score at 33 with 1:31 left. A Spartan three with 59.4 remaining to make it 36-33 before the buzzer.

The Spartans took a four-point lead in the fourth, but Limbrunner’s putback of a Tyler Carlson miss with 4:09 left closed it to 40-38, and a later attempt in the paint with 1:11 to go tied the score at 40.

Sycamore hit the front end of a free throw pair with 52.4 left, as well as with 22.5 left to enjoy a brief 42-40 edge before the final sequence.

“I told the boys at halftime that we had to try to get that lead to three going into the fourth and let the chips fall where they may,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I think the boys did a nice job of doing that, and they were fighting and fighting. We had some key guys in foul trouble all night, and I thought some guys stepped up off the bench.”

In Saturday action, the Knights travelled to LaSalle County to face the L-P Cavaliers and left with a 34-32 win.

Only four Knights entered the scoring column, with Limbrunner totalling 14 and John Pruett 12

KHS had a 9-7 lead after one but went scoreless in the second quarter to fall behind 12-9 at the half. The Knights’ 19-10 flurry in the third had them up 28-22 at the horn before the final eight minutes.

The Golden Warriors of Sterling come through town on Saturday, Jan. 26, for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.

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Knights at hub of victory

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Photo: John Pruett executes a leaping lay-up in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 65-62 home win against Rochelle on Thursday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Limbrunner, Pruett combine for 40 in NIB-12 win
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Eight out of 10 isn’t bad.

Outside of two setbacks at last month’s Plano Christmas Classic, the Knights don’t have a blemish on the slate since junior guard Drew David saw his way back into the lineup from injury.

The narrative continued on Thursday evening against the visiting Rochelle Hubs, as the Knights staged a 65-62 comeback win.

The win raises KHS prospects to 9-6 (4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

“We still have a long way to go offensively. The nice thing about having Drew back is that we are taking care of the ball better. But our consistency needs to improve,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.

Helped by a 16-for-24 evening at the line, compared to just four tries for the visitors, Kaneland beat its 2012 regional final opponent from a year ago. Matt Limbrunner had a game-high 23 points, to go with teammate John Pruett’s 17. Dan Miller added nine in the win.

The 65 points marks a team-high for 2012-13 thus far, and held up despite Rochelle’s mind-boggling 14 three-pointers. Grant Prusator had a team-high five treys.

Rochelle led 19-14 after one quarter and 40-29 at the end of the first half. Kaneland closed within 51-45 at the end of the third frame before making a 20-11 run spanning the fourth quarter.

Kaneland hopes the effort shows on the court in this second half of the season.

“The boys are buying into our defensive philosophy. They also work hard on a consistent basis,” Johnson said.

Kaneland travels to conference crossover adversary LaSalle-Peru on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

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Knights take care of Yorkville, BC

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Photo: Kaneland’s Tyler Carlson passes as a Burlington player goes down during Kaneland’s home contest on Saturday. The Knights defeated the Rockets 38-30. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The silver-and-black-clad Knights are making good on committing to excellence in 2013.

After splitting the last competition of 2012 in the 50th running of the Plano Christmas Classic, Kaneland got off to a nice start with the new year.

Kaneland handily solved a visiting Yorkville squad on Friday evening by a final of 51-30 and stifled a lineup from Burlington Central in Maple Park on Saturday by a final of 38-30.

KHS sits at 8-6 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) on the year, having won seven of its last nine.

In NIB-12 action against the Foxes, the Knights were paced by John Pruett’s 14 points, Matt Limbrunner’s 10 and Tyler Carlson’s 10.

After taking a 12-8 lead after the first eight minutes of play, YHS hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 12-11 23 seconds into the second quarter.

Limbrunner then hit two baskets, including one on a crisp pass down low from guard Drew David, to take a 16-11 lead with 6:10 to go.

Baskets by Dan Miller and Cole Carlson and two foul shots from Tyler Carlson gave KHS a 22-18 edge with two minutes to play in the half, the Foxes’ basket with 1:19 left closed the first-half scoring out at 22-20.

The third quarter saw the scales tip even more in the Knights’ favor as a mid-quarter flurry of baskets from Tyler Carlson, Limbrunner and a three-pointer from Pruett made it 31-22 with 2:28 to go. Yorkville missed six straight shots in the quarter at one point, while Limbrunner converted on two baskets and David hit a shot, giving KHS a 37-28 lead with 1:02 to go that closed out the scoring.

Yorkville hit just one of four shots in the fourth quarter, while Pruett hit the first three baskets of the quarter for KHS to give the hosts a 14-point lead.

“We know they ran their 2-2-1 press, and we were pretty much game planning that all week,” Pruett said. “Yorkville is good at getting pressure and turnovers, and we were just getting the ball down the floor.”

The lead grew to 21 on a three by freshman Dylan Vava with 1:26 to go, while Yorkville scored just two points in the frame.

“(Yorkville) did a good job early on at causing us to make some mistakes and not necessarily take care of the basketball, but it was nice to get a little bit of breathing space in the fourth quarter,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.

Limbrunner led the Knights with 16 in the comeback win over visiting BC, but the visitors enjoyed an 8-6 lead after one quarter. Kaneland powered through for a 19-16 lead at halftime before BC emerged with a 25-24 lead after three. KHS went on a 14-5 run encompassing the fourth quarter for the win.

Kaneland hosts rival Rochelle on Thursday, Jan. 10.

Photos by John DiDonna:
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Dudzinski named Patriot League Player of the Week

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WORCESTER, Mass.—Holy Cross junior forward Dave Dudzinski, an Elburn resident and Kaneland High School alum, was named the Patriot League/Anaconda Player of the Week, for competition from Dec. 17-23. This marks the first time Dudzinski has won Patriot League Player of the Week honors during his collegiate career.

In two contests that week, Dudzinski averaged 26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game, while hitting 69.2 percent (18 of 26) of his field goal attempts, 80.0 percent of his three-pointers (four of five) and 92.9 percent (13 of 14) of his free throws. He opened the week with a career-high 31 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in the 73-63 victory at San Francisco on Dec. 18. Dudzinski then totaled 22 points, two assists, two blocks and two steals in the 72-65 loss at Harvard on Dec. 22.

On the year, Dudzinski has averaged a team-best 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots per game. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has totaled 577 points, 336 rebounds and 53 blocked shots, while connecting on 50.2 percent (211 of 421) of his field goals and 80.6 percent (133 of 165) of his free throws.

Top-tier finish in Plano for boys hoops

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Photo: Kaneland boys varsity beat Newark 54-35 on Dec. 27 at the Plano 50th annual Christmas Classic tournament. No. 22 Dan Miller goes up and over his opponents for a score. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
PLANO—Kaneland boys basketball is slowly but surely gelling again.

At the 50th running of the Plano Christmas Classic, that reality stood as an ominous warning to some teams and a statement of fact to the teams that bested the Knights.

Kaneland finished in fourth place, one spot worse than in 2011, but still continues to make strides with a healthy lineup and new faces.

Coupled with a win back on Dec. 22 against Sandwich, the Knights returned to action with a handy 47-29 win on Dec. 26, against sixth-seed Lisle. On Thursday, they handed Newark a 54-35 loss before losing to Ottawa on Friday, 60-50. Saturday’s third-place game saw Aurora Christian hand Kaneland a 54-46 loss.

Ottawa, a 10th seed, won the entire tournament with a 55-53 win over top-seed Belvidere on Saturday night.

With the 3-2 showing at the tourney, Kaneland’s record is now 6-6.

Against the Lisle Lions, Kaneland was led by Matt Limbrunner’s 23, Tyler Carlson’s 11 and John Pruett’s 10.

Two Limbrunner hoops gave KHS a 10-5 lead with under a minute left, but a technical foul on the Kaneland bench gave Lisle four foul shot attempts, only to convert on one of the tries. Kaneland led 10-8 at the first-quarter horn.

It was once again the Limbrunner show in the second quarter, with four of the five team baskets.

The senior was able to power down low to make it 19-12 with 3:02 to go in the half. After Lisle’s hoop 19 seconds later, Limbrunner went low for a 21-14 edge with 2:21 to play, closing out the first-half scoring.

KHS then went on a 13-4 run, taking care of the entire third frame. Back-to-back three pointers by Carlson grew the lead to 14 points with 29.1 left, and two Pruett foul shots with 15.8 to go made it 34-18 as the quarter wound down.

Baskets by Pruett and Limbrunner within the fourth quarter’s first minute made the lead 38-18, while free throws from Limbrunner, Dan Miller and Connor Fedderly iced the game.

Limbrunner and crew persevered against a higher seed and an up-tempo style of play for a handy win.

“It was nice; we knew they wanted to play fast,” Limbrunner said. “So we wanted to play our game, slow it down, and it worked out really well.”

KHS coach Brian Johnson was wary of the No. 6 seed in the Classic.

“We wanted to make sure we could control the tempo,” Johnson said. “Lisle is pretty athletic and big, and they want to get out and run.”

In the win over the Norsemen, Carlson paced the Knights with 16. Kaneland was ahead 15-3 after one frame and 26-18 at the halftime buzzer before leading 41-26 after three. KHS shot 17-for-38 in the win and 17-for-22 from the foul line.

In the loss against the eventual champ Pirates, Miller had a team-high 12, while Ottawa’s JD Bryant had 16 of his own.

Kaneland was plagued by a 19-for-53 day from the field. Ottawa was ahead 15-12 after one and 30-18 at the half before the Knights closed to within 39-33 after three.

Miller had a team-high 15 in the loss to the local rival Eagles in the tourney conclusion. Cory Windle had a game-high 16.

Kaneland was plagued by a 19-for-50 night from the field.

AC went up 22-9 after one frame and 36-24 after the first 16 minutes of play before the Knights closed to within 45-36, but a 10-9 fourth in favor of Kaneland wasn’t impactful enough.

Kaneland continues Northern Illinois Big XII action on Friday, Jan. 4, against visiting Yorkville.

Hot start

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Follow the Plano Tournament at
RockCreekBall.com/Classic12.htm

Kaneland’s Tyler Carlson (10) steals the ball from the Sandwich players during the 50th annual Plano Classic on Saturday. Kaneland handled Sandwich easily in this game, winning 52-31. Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS boys trounce Sandwich in Plano Classic’s first round
KANELAND—It’s a tall order for an 11th seed to find glory in the Plano Christmas Classic, so Kaneland had to take it one step at a time at the tournament setting.

They did so on Saturday against Sandwich with a 52-31 victory during the first afternoon of the 50th edition of the tournament.

Winners of the entire tournament in 2009, KHS played No. 6 seed Lisle at 3:30 p.m., on Wednesday, with results unavailable at press time.

Kaneland (4-4) went 17-for-42 from the field and was paced by Tyler Carlson’s 19 points, John Pruett’s 12 and Matt Limbrunner’s 11.

Liam Crotty had eight for Sandwich.

Key in the winning effort was the Knights going 18-for-21 from the foul line, compared to 5-for-5 for the Indians.

KHS went 10-for-22 from the field in the second half.

Kaneland was up 10-8 after the first quarter, and 18-13 at the half before upping the lead to 30-22 after three. The Knights’ 22-9 run spanning the entire fourth quarter iced the first-round contest.

Drew drops in on DeKalb

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Kaneland point guard Drew David returned to the lineup after his injury that kept him out of the first six games. He helped the Knights come back against DeKalb, winning 50-45 on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Key 3 fuels comeback win at Barbs
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Perhaps the only group unhappy to see the return of Kaneland point guard Drew David was the group hosting the boys basketball game on Friday night.

It was David’s first game back from a wrist injury suffered during football season, and he lofted a successful three-pointer to give KHS a 46-45 lead with 43.6 seconds remaining.

The shot gave the Knights the lead for the rest of the contest and resulted in a 50-45 win over the host Barbs.

Kaneland is now 3-4 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

The game featured Kaneland playing catch-up since the first quarter, facing as much as an eight-point deficit in the game.

The fourth frame saw KHS go 7-for-10 from the field and a string of six made shots in a row.

Matt Limbrunner paced the Knights with 16 points, followed by Tyler Carlson’s 11, John Pruett’s 10 and David’s eight.

“We were down the whole game, but the boys fought really hard,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Drew came up big toward the end, and it was a team effort. It was obviously nice having Drew back.”

DeKalb entered the fourth up 34-29, and Kaneland’s run began when Pruett’s putback off of a Dan Miller miss made it 39-35 with 4:05 remaining.

DeKalb made the first of two foul shots to make it a five-point game. Pruett’s shot made it 40-37 with 2:50 to go, and David hit his first trifecta with 1:58 remaining to neutralize a previous Barb three and make it 43-40.

Tyler Carlson’s basket 20 seconds later made it 43-42.

Miller’s foul shot tied it with 1:27 left before a Barb conversion tilted the lead back to the home team with 1:05 left.

David then hit the crucial three from the wing, and a similar attempt by DeKalb was for naught, allowing Pruett and David to hit four foul shots to cap the win.

“I don’t know, I’m pretty out of shape, but I was just trying to help the team win,” David said. “I just got cleared the other day and it’s (my hand is) pretty weak, so it’s kind of foreign for me, shooting right now.”

DeKalb had a 10-7 lead after one frame, and was up 20-16 after two quarters.

Kaneland sets off against Sandwich at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Dec. 22, in the first round of the Plano Christmas Classic. The winner faces Lisle on Wednesday, Dec. 26, at 3:30 p.m., while the loser faces either Newark or Burlington Central at 6:30 p.m.

Boys step into pressure cooker

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Photo: Kaneland varsity head coach Brian Johnson (right) tries to settle down his players in the third period at Sycamore. Photos by John DiDonna

Sycamore ‘D’ too much; KHS nabs win over H-BR
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—There would be no duplicating the last-second magic of late November like the Kaneland boys basketball team had against Morris. The host Sycamore Spartans made absolutely sure of that on Friday along Spartan Trail.

However, another game came down to the wire on Tuesday against Hinckley-Big Rock (H-BR), and this time the Knights came through in a 44-42 win.

Against Sycamore, a stingy press meant Kaneland was playing catch-up for the entire duration of the Northern Illinois Big XII meeting between the rival Knights and Spartans, with Sycamore earning a 60-46 win.

For Sycamore, Devin Mottet had 17 points, while KHS was paced by Matt Limbrunner’s 19. Dan Miller added nine.

Kaneland was 7-for-10 from the foul line.

A Tyler Carlson jumper with 4:24 remaining in the first deadlocked the affair at four apiece, but Sycamore went 4-for-5 from the field and made six foul shots to go up 19-7 at the end of the first, and continued its run into the next quarter to go up 23-7 before Miller’s offensive putback with 4:53 remaining in the half. Kaneland’s scoring drought lasted 5:20.

Down 27-11, the Knights went on a 9-2 run to close the half, thanks to a three-point play by Limbrunner, two foul shots by Bailey Harvell, two foul shots by Carlson and a basket by Limbrunner.

Sycamore’s fortunes were lifted by a fast tempo and key baskets by Mottet to go up 41-22 with 3:36 left.

Kaneland closed the third frame on an 8-2 run, stamped by a Cole Carlson putback with 22.6 to go.

Sycamore saw its lead go up to 15, but Kaneland got within 10 on four occasions, only to get no closer.

KHS coach Brian Johnson surveyed the difficult task with an improved Spartans contingent.

“This isn’t the Sycamore of the last few years; they’re a good team,” Johnson said. “They’re well coached and played extremely hard. We have to stick to our philosophy in beating those types of presses, and we didn’t really do it.”

Against H-BR, Kaneland used an 11-4 third quarter advantage to overcome a three-point halftime deficit to propel them to a much needed victory.

Matt Limbrunner led the team with 14 points, including three three-pointers. John Pruett added 12 points, and Carlson chipped in 10.

Kaneland now sits at 2-4 on the season. The Knights will battle host DeKalb Barbs on Friday, Dec. 14.

Tylertown!

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Senior Dan Miller works some defense during the varsity boys exciting 32-31 comeback victory over Morris on Friday. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Carlson’s putback buzzer-beater gives KHS win No. 1
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was a case of right place, right time for Kaneland junior Tyler Carlson.

But that ending sequence couldn’t have taken place without a battling mentality, which helped the Knights crawl back the entire game against Morris on Friday night.

Carlson’s (four points) rebound and putback off the glass after a John Pruett (11 points) three-point miss gave Kaneland a 32-31 win over Morris in Northern Illinois Big XII action.

It was the first win of the young season for the Knight unit after a hard-luck 0-3 start.

“I just saw the shot go up and it was the right place at the right time,” Carlson said. “It was my first buzzer-beater and it felt pretty good.”

Morris fell to 2-2 with the setback.

The fourth quarter marked the first time Kaneland actually had a lead after a three-point play by Dan Miller made it 27-26 with 6:20 remaining. Pruett connected on a foul shot with 4:47 to go to make it 28-26 before a Ben Ortiz basket with 4:10 to go tied the game.

Ortiz’ three-pointer with 1:18 to go gave Morris a 31-28 edge, setting up the final exchange.

Two missed shots by Kaneland hindered a comeback attempt, but Miller’s two charity stripe shots with 57.5 to go made it 31-30.

KHS got the ball back, but a time out was called with 17.7 seconds to go after no shot opportunities opened up, setting the stage for the final sequence.

“The last one was a lucky one,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Ty just happened to crash and got the ball and barely got it off. We’re very fortunate to come away with the win.”

Morris led 13-7 after one quarter. A three-point play by Pruett with 2:38 remaining closed within 10-7 before an Evan Bjelland three with 58.7 to go upped the lead to six.

Morris led by as much as seven in the second quarter, but baskets by Pruett and Matt Limbrunner closed it to 18-14 with 34.9 remaining in the half.

Kaneland kept matters close, and a Miller basket with 3:15 to go in the third made it 23-22 before a Bjelland three with 33.3 to go set the stage for the final frame.

Sycamore represents the next challenge for KHS, in a match-up along Spartan Trail on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Knight boys have early uphill climb

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Tyler Carlson goes up for a shot to close up the score against Crystal Lake South on Friday at Batavia. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS drops first 3 contests as part of Windmill Invite
KANELAND—Good news for Kaneland boys basketball is that it’s still November.

The bad news is there will be time spent negating the rough start in November.

With the season beginning in Batavia as part of the popular Windmill City Basketball Classic, Kaneland dropped a 47-45 game to the host Bulldogs on Nov. 21, a loss to Crystal Lake South, 63-55 on Friday, and a 63-50 loss to St. Francis on Saturday to set its mark at 0-3.

Against Batavia, Tyler Carlson led KHS with 13 points, followed by nine from Connor Fedderly.

Batavia was enjoying a 9-2 lead after one quarter before the Knights stormed back to 21-21 at the halftime buzzer. Hoops matters were deadlocked at 34 apiece going into the final frame.

KHS was 12-for-16 from the foul line on the evening.

The Knights couldn’t solve the Gators of Crystal Lake South despite the best intentions of Matt Limbrunner, who had 26 points, leading to the encounter with the Wheaton-based Spartans.

In the 13-point setback, John Pruett had 20, while Limbrunner added 11, including two three-pointers. The Knights were 17-of-25 from the charity stripe.

Kaneland and St. Francis were tied at 15 after one quarter of play, but the Spartans took a 33-26 lead at the end of the second quarter. The Knights saw the lead balloon after three to 57-38 before the final shrinking margin.

KHS coach Brian Johnson isn’t dismayed with the effort put forth, and the prospect still exists in the young 2012-13 campaign to turn the team’s fortunes.

“At this point in the season we are still trying to mix and match and see what line-ups have success during different times of each game,” Johnson said. “The boys have done a nice job of staying focused and putting forth their best effort thus far.”

Up next for Kaneland: a home matchup with Grundy County rival Morris on Friday, Nov. 30.

Winter Sports Preview: Season of change

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Knight cagers hope returnees lead team full of newcomers
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There seems to be a wrinkle at the beginning of every Kaneland High School boys basketball season.

In 2009-10, Dave Dudzinski ran roughshod over the area, while in 2010-11, the Knights captured their first conference title since the Reagan administration. And in 2011-12, the Knights benefited from all-Northern Illinois Big XII selection and West Aurora transfer Marcel Neil and secured a Regional plaque.

Now, coach Brian Johnson has to prepare a group for a similar postseason run like the one that advanced to the Sycamore Sectional semifinal, but without personnel like Neil (at Kishwaukee Junior College) and junior Thomas Williams, who transferred to Texas.

“There’s been a lot of change, even from just the summer when we had Thomas, but we have some boys that have put in a lot of hard work,” Johnson said.

Among the group of hard-workers Johnson is talking about are senior guard Dan Miller and senior forward Matt Limbrunner, the two oldest reps on the Knight squad. The Knights will also expect heavy contributions from junior forward John Pruett and junior guard Tyler Carlson.

“Those guys have put in a lot of time. They’re good athletes and good kids. People ask me what type of team we’ll have and I don’t know yet,” Johnson said. “Last year, we could attack the rim, and we rebounded fairly well. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do all those things this year.”

Adding to the question pile is the health of third-year point guard Drew David, still on the mend after football bumps and bruises.

“It’ll be nice having Drew back in his third year at the point, and Tyler and John practiced with us all year and they know what we’re expecting,” Johnson said.

Also looking to contribute with varsity minutes in 2012-13 are sophomore guard Connor Fedderly and fellow sophomore guard Ben Barnes, junior forward Tom VanBogaert, junior guard Bailey Harvell and junior forward Cole Carlson, who saw quality summer minutes.

The Knights also bring a freshman guard into the mix in the form of Dylan Vaca.

“They’ll fill their roles as best they can and see some successes. This year, we’re going to have to be a team in every meaning of the word. That’s one thing I’ve really noticed, is we don’t necessarily have those go-to guys; they all work really well together,” Johnson said.

When it comes to the hierarchy of the NIB-12 and the odds of getting to a second conference title in three seasons, Johnson knows Kaneland must wade through several capable teams.

“DeKalb’s coming back with a really nice player in Andre Harris. Rochelle has their two guards that are very solid players. They’re good teams and are at the top of our league, and Yorkville did a really nice job last year,” Johnson said.

Action got underway on Wednesday at the Batavia Windmill Classic, with results unavailable as of press time against the hosts. The home opener is Friday, Nov. 30, against Morris, with the Knights once again making a stop at the Plano Christmas Classic, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 22.

Photos: Scoring some spaghetti

in Boys Basketball/Featured/Kaneland by

The Kaneland boys basketball program held it’s fourth annual spaghetti dinner on Nov. 15 at the high school cafeteria. Proceeds benefited the program, and the food was served by the basketball players. Marty Scialabba, 11 (right), gets his helping of food
during the dinner.


A group of kids make a party out
of the dinner by acting silly and
eating treats.

Photos by John DiDonna

Boys basketball spaghetti dinner

in Boys Basketball by

Kaneland—The Kaneland boys basketball program will offer its fourth annual spaghetti dinner for the Kaneland community on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

The price per person is $5. Enjoy food that will be served by the boys in the basketball program.

RSVP to Brian Johnson by email, brian.johnson@kaneland.org, or by phone at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347.

Kaneland boys basketball annual spaghetti dinner

in Boys Basketball by

Kaneland—The Kaneland boys basketball program will offer its fourth annual spaghetti dinner for the Kaneland community on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

The price per person is $5. Enjoy food that will be served by the boys in the basketball program.

RSVP to Brian Johnson by email, brian.johnson@kaneland.org, or by phone at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347.

Kaneland holds court in summertime

in Boys Basketball/Featured by

Photo: Drew David moves the ball upcourt against a Belleville West defender during Tuesday’s action at the 27th Annual Morris Boys Shootout. Photo by Mike Slodki

Boys hoops
competes in
Morris Shootout

by Mike Slodki
MORRIS—Twenty-minute halves, a running clock, and kids wearing something akin to rec-league warmups.

But the Kaneland boys basketball trip to the 27th annual Morris Shootout, occurring Tuesday and Wednesday, was anything but rec.

With the Knights in Pool H against the likes of Belleville West, Oswego and Pekin high schools, the Kaneland group was taking this 32-team affair as a chance to show skills.

Even with a 12-point loss to the downstate Maroons in the books to open matters, coach Brian Johnson takes each summer day to see what he has.

“We’re trying to figure out what we have, and we made mistakes, but that stuff usually irons itself out by the time the season comes around,” Johnson said.

The Knight boys have participated in leagues at Geneva and DeKalb high schools, to go along with camps and lifting during the morning hours.

It makes for a different style of basketball once tip-off happens.

“They are competing out there and it’s a little more freelance. There’s a lot of kids out there that play a lot of basketball. We’re a team with kids that play three sports, and it’s a little more freelance when it comes to the summer. We’re not really a freelance team, and I think that will show when the season rolls around.”

Kaneland’s new faces for summer ball are Dylan Nauert, Brock Robertson, Bailey Harvell, Dylan Vaca, Cole Carlson, Tom VanBogaert and Shane Jorgensen.

Returning are Clay Denlinger, Dan Miller, Drew David, Thomas Williams, Tyler Carlson and John Pruett, making for a core to build around once summer progresses to the late fall.

“They’re going to do a nice job-—all the guys coming back. They’re poised to have really nice seasons, and we need to see where everyone kind of fits into play,” Johnson said.

The Knights head off to the Geneva League Tournament on Thursday, June 28.

Closest to the Pin

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KHS wrestling coach Monty Jahns tees off during the Kaneland Boys Basketball Program 3rd Annual Golf Outing, which was held on Saturday at Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove. The golf outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses. The fundraiser raised money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Photo by Patti Wilk

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