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Seed of success

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Last week brought a bit of good news for Kaneland girls basketball.

But KHS coach Ernie Colombe stresses the “bit” part.

With the news handed down at the end of last week that Kaneland earned the number one seed in the approaching Yorkville Regional, Colombe acknowledges the hard work put into the season and the program as a whole by the girls, but says the group can’t be satisfied.

“I’m happy for the kids, but we’re not settling. We’re spending time talking about the last few games of the regular season,” Colombe said.

For KHS girls hoops, this marks the first time that the girls have been the high seed in a regional group since 2006, when the 22-win juggernaut led by Lyndsie Long, Jessica Lund, and current Lady Knights assistant coach Kelsey Flanagan earned the four-seed in the sectional, only to be upset by an East Aurora squad on Feb. 14, 2006, 46-40.

“I’ve been happy with the progress we’re making. We took this on as a goal to build the program and win at all levels,” Colombe said.

With six years cemented on his KHS coaching tenure, Colombe believes it goes all the way from the top down, and earliest to current.

“It’s kind of interesting, because it’s girls like Emily Heimerdinger and Andie Strang that maybe didn’t get the wins, but set a tone with their hard work,” Colombe said.

With Kaneland set to face the winner of four-seed IMSA and five-seed Sandwich on Wednesday, Feb. 15, the groundwork is being laid even now.

“If we’re not playing, we’re scouting. Tom (Dillavan) and Kelsey are out scouting games and gathering as much information as possible,” Colombe said.

If KHS beats either IMSA or Sandwich, it’s a date with two-seed Yorkville or three-seed Rosary in the Yorkville Regional title match on Thursday, Feb. 16.

“Well, we have to get there first,” Colombe said. “We caught Yorkville on a bad night and it came when we were firing on all cylinders. Rosary plays a very tough schedule with Montini, St. Edward and Aurora Central Catholic. We have to take care of our own business and perform at a high level.”

Lady Knights roundball (14-8, 5-2) drops pair

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Photo: Lady Knight Kelly Evers (34) gets to the ball before DeKalb’s Taylor White during Tuesday’s loss to DHS. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—While Kaneland girls basketball has reached regular season heights not seen in quite some time, sometimes plateaus are hit.

Such was the case this past week of competition for the Lady Knights, as they fell to host Geneseo in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference action by a 32-14 clip, and trekked to DeKalb, where they lost 46-31 on Tuesday.

The two-game slide brought KHS down to 14-8 (5-2 NIB-12).

With the minor slide, the Lady Knights failed to add on to a four-game win streak, which has now been accomplished twice in 2011-12—the first instance taking shape in Kaneland’s 4-0 start to the campaign.

With three games remaining in the regular season and two conference games left, Kaneland is two games back of DeKalb’s spotless conference record. The Lady Barbs are 19-4.

Tuesday’s final saw Allyson O’Herron lead the way with nine points. Kaneland was plagued by less-than-stellar shooting from the field, going just nine-for-29, although the Lady Knights did go 14-for-20 from the free throw line.

KHS was down 9-8 after one, while seeing the halftime deficit increase to 24-14. DeKalb enjoyed a 32-20 lead after three before the final eight minutes of play.

Sophomores improved to 16-5 with a 34-27 win over DeKalb, while the freshman finished 19-2 with a 37-24 win over Morris on Monday.

Kaneland girls drill Bulldogs, Indians

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Photo: Ernie Colombe gathers the troops during a timeout in the midst of Kaneland’s 41-27 win over Lemont on Tuesday. The Lady Knights are enjoying a 14-6 record through 20 games. Photo by Patti Wilk

Lady Knights secure first winning record since 05-06
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Looks like the KHS girls basketball crew can get used to this modified schedule.

Much like last week’s snowstorm forced the Lady Knights into an extra day of rest only to come back with a win in Morris, Kaneland’s scheduled contest on Friday was shelved and the action continued on Saturday afternoon vs. Streator.

KHS handed the crossover foe Bulldogs a 60-22 shellacking, and followed that win with a 41-27 win against visiting Lemont, and improved its record to 14-6, and 5-1 in the Northern Illinois Big XII.

With five games remaining in the 2011-12 regular season, the Lady Knights have eclipsed last year’s win total and clinched the program’s first winning record since 2005-06, and the first in coach Ernie Colombe’s six-season tenure.

On Saturday, the defense forced the visiting Lady Bulldogs into 40 turnovers and 27 percent shooting, while 23 steals supplanted the effort, as well. Allyson O’Herron and Brooke Harner led the squad with five each.

Despite shooting 21-of-61 from the field and 14-of-24 from the foul line, Kaneland was the recipient of a supremely balanced scoring attack. Alli Liss had a game-high 14 and Ashley Prost had 10 points and five boards.

Kaneland led 19-8 after a quarter of play and clamped down on the visitors once again to have a comfortable 34-11 lead at the half. The margin was upped to 46-17 after the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the sophomores (14-4) had an easy time against Streator with a 42-6 win. Sydney Strang had 15 points.

Freshmen girls beat Yorkville on Monday, 43-35, and handled DeKalb on Thursday, 33-19, to improve to 16-2 on the year.

On Tuesday, Prost contributed a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards.

Despite the Indians storming to a 7-0 lead, Kaneland closed to within 8-5 by the end of the quarter.

Kaneland’s 10 steals came in handy the rest of the contest, with plenty of breakaway opportunities and crisp passing producing success.

Down 13-11 in the second frame, Kaneland’s Marina Schaefer’s baseline jumper and Aly Harner’s three-pointer in the last 66 seconds gave Kaneland a 16-13 edge at the break.

In the third, Prost and Brooke Harner hit baskets to go up 27-15 with 1:48 to go, but Lemont closed to within 27-19 by the end of the half.

Cutting the lead to 29-23, Lemont had Kanreland reeling until a 9-0 run keyed by an Bradford pass to Prost made it 38-23 with 2:30 to go.

“We all just tried to put a lot of pressure on them,” Bradford said about the effort on both sides of the floor. “We wanted to force turnovers, and we were really getting into their guards’ heads.”

Ahead for the varsity group is a trip to Maple Leaf country to face Geneseo on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Lady Knights get kicks off Route 6

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MORRIS, Ill.—Kaneland has shown no fear when it comes to the slate of games in the Northern Illinois Big XII conference, and that’s something other girls basketball outfits should be leery of.

The only element stopping the Lady Knights from more success this past week was snow, as the game against Streator scheduled for Thursday was shelved until Saturday, Jan. 21, at 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, KHS went down to Morris to face the Lady Redskins and came away with a 54-44 victory Tuesday, improving to 12-6 (5-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Kaneland is now just one win off last year’s season total.

Inside presence Ashley Prost had a game-high 20 points in the winning effort, while teammate Emma Bradford had 15.

KHS shot over 50 percent in the win, going 19-for-36, tempering the 15-for-28 night from the line.

The Lady Knights went up 13-4 after one quarter and emerged with a 31-14 halftime lead.

Morris caved the deficit slightly and trailed 40-24 after three before closing to within 10 in the final eight minutes, but Kaneland held on for the win.

In other levels of action, the sophomores fell to 13-4 with a 39-33 loss to Morris. Additionally, the KHS freshmen crew squashed Rochelle on Saturday by a final of 37-6, thanks to a balanced scoring output from 10 Lady Knights. Monday saw KHS beat Sycamore by a final of 37-23, thanks to 10 points from Katrina Paulick.

Besides the Streator makeup this weekend, KHS also hosts Sycamore on Friday, Jan. 23. The Lady Knights beat the Lady Spartans by four back on Dec. 9.

KHS emerges the victor over Yorkville, Rochelle

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Photo: Brooke Harner (22) tries to control the ball in traffic on Friday, with teammates Marina Schaefer (33) and Ali Liss close by. Photo by Ben Draper

Girls’ wins take sting out of OT loss at BC
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The girls basketball crew from Kaneland found what it liked in at Yorkville on Friday, and had what it liked, but lost it on Saturday.

A 20-point cruise was just the ticket over host Yorkville, 48-28, while a sizable halftime lead up in Burlington eventually slimmed up. An overtime and a late putback sent KHS packing with a 49-47 overtime loss. It was the second loss of that kind in three games, as the Lady Knights dropped a two-point result to Plainfield East on Dec. 30 in the finals of the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic.

However, the Kaneland group still finds itself in good standing with an 11-6 record and a 4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII tally after a win in Rochelle on Tuesday, 38-30. That marked the first win on Rochelle’s home court in five years.

“Even though we didn’t have games go our way at the end recently, we’ve won a lot of close games earlier,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We just had to compose ourselves and play well at the end.”

Facing Rochelle, the Lady Knights were lifted by eight members in the scoring column, and led by Kelly Evers’ eight points.

The Lady Knights took advantage of accurate passing that usually found its targets in the forms of Evers, Ashley Prost and Emma Bradford.

“That just happens all the time in practice,” Evers said. “Not just with Emma, Ashley or I, but with the whole team. There’s open looks and magic happens.”

KHS went out to a 10-8 lead, and increased to the lead to 10 points in the second quarter, thanks to a down-low look by Evers and a bucket by Sarah Grams. Kaneland was ahead 22-12 at the break.

After ending the third frame up 30-20, the margin shrunk to 33-29 with three minutes to go.

A key steal by Ashley Castellanos stunted Rochelle’s game plan and Grams and Liss made it to the foul line for insurance free throws until game’s end.

Against Yorkville, Lady Knights basketball was paced by Prost’s 21 points, which included 12 in the first half. Prost also added a co-team-high six boards, matched by Evers.

KHS held the Lady Foxes to 11-for-48 from the field.

KHS went out to a slim 13-12 lead after the first eight minutes, and clamped on the pressure to go up 26-15 at the halftime break.

In the third quarter, Kaneland outscored YHS 14-5 to go up 40-20, setting the stage for the final result.

On Saturday afternoon at the home of the Lady Rockets, things looked to be going well for KHS as it went out to a 13-4 lead after one and maintained a 23-14 lead at the break.

BC closed within 34-29 after the third quarter before deadlocking KHS at 40 going into the extra frame.

With two seconds remaining in overtime, Burlington Central’s Camille De La Cruz put back a missed shot to give the hosts the close win.

KHS was 11-for-48 from the field on Saturday, and 15-for-23 from the charity stripe.

The loss for Kaneland was despite the best efforts of Evers, who scored 10 points and brought down 14 boards. Prost had a team-high 11 points.

Looming on the horizon for the varsity girls: a meeting with visiting Streator on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Buzzer-beater batters Kaneland girls in Winter Classic Finale

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Photo: Emma Bradford (32) finds herself in a sea of Mustangs during competition last week at the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic. Kaneland lost three of four contests in the gathering. File Photo

by Mike Slodki
OSWEGO, Ill.—This year, more so than most, the Lady Knights play up to tough competition and rarely get blown out.

That doesn’t provide much solace after a tournament-ending loss like the one on Friday.

A last-second bank shot by Plainfield East in the third-place consolation game ended the Kaneland troops’ winning hopes in a 47-45 result.

Kaneland also lost a 37-34 matchup with East Aurora on Thursday, and came away with a 47-33 win over Plainfield North in Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic action. The Lady Knights finished up 1-3 in the 2011 grouping, and finished the year with a 9-5 record (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) before leaping into 2012.

West Chicago edged South Elgin by one point in the final.

Allyson O’Herron had a game-high 17 points vs. the Bengals, and the Lady Knights were 17-of-41 from the field.

After leading 24-19 at halftime, a scoring drought felled Kaneland. Plainfield East went on a 15-0 run by being aggressive in the paint. Down 10, Brooke Harner converted a three-point play to close to 34-27, and thus started a 13-0 run on Kaneland’s end, extending into the fourth quarter.

Things looked to be going the way of KHS when O’Herron hit a basket to go up 43-38 at the halfway mark of the quarter.

Two ensuing baskets by the Bengals made it 43-42 with 2:32 remaining. Kaneland’s final bucket came on a putback by Ashley Prost with 1:22 remaining. Faith Suggs converted a three-pointer with 60 seconds remaining to tie the game. With 12.6 seconds to go, Kaneland was whistled for a traveling violation, giving the ball back to Plainfield East. After inbounding the ball, Faith Suggs banked a shot off the glass just before the clock hit zero for the 47-45 final margin.

KHS coach Ernie Colombe feels he got a better look at his team, despite the downer ending.

“I think we’ve gotten better,” Colombe said. “We talked about not getting too caught up in going 1-3 in this tournament. It wasn’t our goal, obviously. We just talked about closing out games. We set something up, we just never really got into it.”

Against East Aurora, a two-for-13 day from the perimeter spelled bad things ahead for the Lady Knights, despite holding the Tomcats to 37 points. Harner and Prost led the way with eight points apiece. KHS was down 16-8 at the half and 28-20 after three before a mini-rally.

Against Plainfield North, Prost had a game-high 17 points, and the Lady Knights stormed out to a 28-12 halftime lead that held until the end.

Kaneland freshmen won the Plainfield East tournament by virtue of a 41-25 win over Plainfield South on Dec. 28.

KHS heads into 2012 competition with a trip to Yorkville on Friday, Jan. 6.

Lady Knights basketball is now 9-11 all-time at the holiday tournament at Oswego East High School.

Lady Knights knocked to consolation side at Oswego E.

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Photo: Brooke Harner (22) defends against a potent Metea Valley offense during the first round of the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic Tuesday morning. Harner had four points and two steals, but the Lady Knights fell 62-46. Photo by Ben Draper

OSWEGO—It’s been a productive season thus far for your Kaneland Lady Knights hoops contingent. It’s been awhile since that label to a season could be touted. The Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic would serve as a good marker for how far KHS has grown this season.

Alas, thanks to new kid on the block Metea Valley, Kaneland will have to show what it has from the consolation side of the bracket.

Outside of a productive third quarter, Kaneland was held in check by second-seeded Metea Valley of Aurora in the opener of the seventh Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic on Tuesday, by a final of 62-46.

That meant Kaneland was set to battle Plainfield North at 9 a.m., on Wednesday

Kaneland’s record as 2011 winds down is 8-3 with a 2-1 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference action, and three more tournament clashes remaining.

A year ago, Kaneland began the tournament with wins over South Elgin and Addison Trail en route to a fourth-place finish at Oswego East—its best ever finish.

Against the Lady Wildcats, the Lady Knights were paced by Ashley Prost’s 14 points and Kelly Evers’ 10. KHS was forced to deal with a 19-for-43 day from the field and 14 turnovers.

Kaneland found itself down 18-10 after one quarter and 36-19 at the halftime break before getting a leg up on Metea Valley. KHS got to within five points before quarter number three ended with the Lady Knights down 46-39. Kaneland would be outscored 16-7 for the duration.

After Wednesday’s battle*, KHS will have Thursday against Aurora Christian or East Aurora and Friday in the consolation bracket in Kendall County, as well, completing their sixth trip to the Winter Classic.

*Update: The Lady Knights defeated Plainfield North 47-33 Wednesday morning. The results were not available at press time for the paper edition of the Elburn Herald.

Lady Knights win at Dixon in extra session

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Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Lady Knights basketball was so chock-full with exceptional performances on Saturday afternoon, they needed an overtime session to fit them all.

With clutch free throws, long-range game and an improvement on foul shots, the Lady Knights came away with a 61-55 overtime win at the home of the Duchesses.

With the win, the Lady Knights enjoy a holiday break with an 8-2 (2-1 NIB-12) record to give to themselves before tournament action marks the end of the calendar year.

Kaneland was 20-for-46 from the field, and was lead by Allyson O’Herron, who sunk a team-high 21 points thanks to a school record-tying seven three-pointers. Ashley Prost finished with 14 points and made two clutch shots in OT.

Sarah Grams had 12 points, and also hit the game-tying foul shots with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the contest at 50.

The Lady Knights were also 13-for-19 from the charity stripe, helping to offset an attack lead by Dixon’s Brooke Bailey, who had a game-high 24 points.

KHS got out to an ideal start, leading Dixon 13-9, before seeing the deficit shrink to 25-24 at halftime.

Dixon took a 38-36 lead after three, setting the stage for the fourth and extra session.

Meanwhile, the sophomores took care of business against Dixon by a 47-28 clip. Caroline Heimerdinger had 14 points in the winning effort.

Ahead for KHS girls hoops lies the usual Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic, which begins on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m. against Metea Valley. The Lady Knights are scheduled to face either Andrew or Plainfield North on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Girls basketball maintains early-season roll in Sycamore

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Photo: Kelly Evers (34) dives for the ball on Sycamore’s court during Friday’s tight 40-36 Kaneland victory. Evers was tied for the team lead with eight rebounds. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—It was an important early-season battle in Sycamore between two squads that had gotten off to relatively hot starts in 2011-12.

With Kaneland and Sycamore girls basketball only having lost a combined three games heading into Friday night, the meeting would provide an early-season barometer to the progress made.

With a 40-36 comeback win in Spartan-land, the KHS barometer is still at a decent pressure.

Kaneland also hosted the Lady Barbs from DeKalb on Tuesday, only to fall in a 42-33 affair.

Still, Kaneland is still maintaining its best start since the 2005-06 season, at 7-2 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Against the Lady Spartans, Ashley Prost led the way with 13 points and eight boards. Teammate Allyson O’Herron had eight points, including two key threes. Sycamore’s Lake Kwaza had a game-high 17 points. KHS was 15-for-44 from the field, and just 8-for-24 from the foul line.

Down 14-13 headed into the second half, Kaneland got off to a blazing start in quarter three. Prost had three buckets, and O’Herron and Emma Bradford hit Kaneland’s first five shot attempts, deadlocking the game at 24-24 with 4:54 remaining. O’Herron’s second-straight three off a steal gave KHS a 27-24 lead with 3:45 left. Brooke Harner’s two free throws and a Lauren Zick basket gave KHS its biggest lead at 31-24 with 46.7 left, and Sycamore hit two foul shots before the end of the frame to make it 31-26 at the buzzer.

Sycamore rallied once down seven, and tied the game in a 33-second span. The Lady Spartans took a 36-35 lead, but Lexee Guerra’s foul shot and an O’Herron basket gave KHS a two-point edge with 1:47 to go. Guerra hit two more free throws to cement the win.

“Offensively, we’re still a work in progress, and we’re still learning how to get the ball to people in the spots they want to get it,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “Tonight, we battled through some foul trouble, but we played tough D and moved the ball on offense.”

The sophomores lost to Sycamore 26-24.

On Tuesday, Prost paced the Lady Knights with 11 points, and Bradford added 10 in the losing cause. KHS was 13-for-34 from the field.

DeKalb led 15-12 after one frame, and 23-21 at the half before stifling the Lady Knights 33-23 after three.

In a 28-25 sophomore win, Caroline Heimerdinger had 11 points to help the Lady Knights improve to 6-1.

Meanwhile, the freshmen troops improved to 7-1 with a 36-10 victory over the host Lady Barbs. Katrina Paulick had 10 points.

KHS heads to Dixon on Saturday, Dec. 17, followed by a 10-day break leading up to the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Girls hoops stifles Morris, IMSA counterparts

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Photo: Allyson O’Herron (32) keeps the ball inbounds during Friday’s 43-33 win over visiting Morris. O’Herron had a team-high nine points in the winning effort. Photo by John DiDonna

Six wins at early juncture for Colombe’s crew
KANELAND—Lady Knights girls basketball continues to go along at its desired pace, and came up with two victories this week.

After a game plagued by fouls and execution snags on Friday, the Lady Knights held firm in the fourth quarter against visiting Morris and rallied for a 43-33 win.

Tuesday saw the Lady Knights conquer Illinois Math and Science Academy of Aurora by a 47-31 final score.

The Lady Knights’ 6-1 start is the best in six seasons for the program.

Facing the Redskins, Allyson O’Herron had a team-high nine points on a roster of balanced scoring. Emma Bradford supplied eight.

From the field, the Lady Knights were 13-for-42, and 15-for-25 from the foul line, but also had 14 steals in the winning effort.

Morris went atop KHS 5-1 after the first eight minutes and 16-11 at halftime. Kaneland came back to close within 24-23 after the third and blazed a 20-9 trail in the fourth for the win.

The sophomores improved to 5-0 with a 35-31 win over Morris. Caroline Heimerdinger had a team-high 10 points.

Tackling the Titans, Ashley Prost and O’Herron each had a game-high 11 points, while Prost also added seven steals.

Kaneland was 18-for-56 from the field, and made 11-of-17 shots from the charity stripe.

KHS went out to an early 9-2 lead and enjoyed a 28-9 advantage at the break. While IMSA closed within 32-22 after three, Kaneland righted things in the fourth and finished with a 15-9 fourth quarter.

In the sophomore tilt, Kaneland emerged victorious with a 42-26 win.

Kaneland now prepares for host Sycamore in a NIB-12 tussle set for Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.

Raising the bar
Looking back at this point a year ago, the Lady Knights were 5-5.
The last two years mark a significant improvement from two years ago, when KHS began 2-8.

Lady Knights take IC crown, drop to EA

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by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If you asked Kaneland girls basketball its favorite activity during this opening juncture of the season, it might just offer an answer of collecting hardware.

With two more wins at the continuing Immaculate Conception Tournament against Lisle and the host, the Lady Knights took home their first tournament plaque since the heyday of Lyndsie Long, Jessica Lund and current assistant coach Kelsey Flanagan six years ago.

“We feel like this team still has a lot of room to improve, especially offensively,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “The key for us in the tournament was that defensively we played as a unit the entire tournament. We were able to create a ton of turnovers and wear down our opponents by continuing to pressure the ball with a deep rotation.”

The four-game win streak stopped on Tuesday night in East Aurora, with a 52-33 loss.

Regardless, Kaneland girls can boast of a 4-1 start.

Against the Lady Lions of Lisle, the Lady Knights held the opponent to 13 points in the first half en route to a 31-23 win.

Kaneland was 10-for-31 from the field, and 10-of-20 from the foul line. Post player Kelly Evers was tops with 10 points.

In the tourney final, a 12-10 halftime lead for Kaneland quickly turned into an 18-17 hole after three before exemplary defense and free throws down the stretch helped toward a win.

KHS had a 13-3 edge in successful foul shots. Ashley Prost had a team-high eight points followed by tourney MVP Evers’ seven and Brooke Harner’s seven.

East Aurora went out to a 26-11 lead on Tuesday, but saw Kaneland cut it to 30-22 in the third before the Lady Tomcats went up 42-25 after three.

Allyson O’Herron had a team-high 12 points for the Kaneland crew.

The Lady Knights kick off their NIB-12 season by hosting Morris on Friday, Dec. 2.

Exceptional start for Kaneland girls hoops

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by Mike Slodki
ELMHURST, Ill.—For the second year in a row, the Kaneland Lady Knights basketball outfit visited the Immaculate Conception Tournament for Thanksgiving week.

Kaneland has to be liking the beginning fortunes of this year’s tournament already.

Facing Wilmette’s Regina Dominican High School on Saturday, KHS used defense and rebounding in a 35-24 win. On Monday, the Lady Knights looked like a team that put the other tourney outfits on notice with a 57-13 win over Plainfield South.

In the opener, Kaneland employed five steals, 25 rebounds and a stingy defense that allowed just three shot attempts in the fourth quarter.

Post-presence Kelly Evers had a game-high 11 points. Ashley Prost added eight points and seven rebounds.

The Lady Knights were 15-for-35 from the field.

Against the Lady Cougars, Ashley Prost paced the group with 12 points to go with eight steals.

Prost and crew executed the pressure defense needed for a smothering victory, indicated by an astounding 30 steals, of which Lauren Zick had nine.

“We’re really proud of ourselves for accomplishing all our goals that we set out to do,” Prost said. “We’ve been pushing ourselves more than we ever had to.”

Three baskets by Prost and a lay-in by Lexee Guerra put KHS on top early, 8-0. Sarah Grams and Ashley Castellanos added hoops for a 12-0 lead after the first quarter horn.

Kaneland increased the lead to 30-5 at halftime and 46-7 after three, instituting the running clock for the fourth quarter.

Depth, knowledge of system charges girls basketball in ‘11-’12

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Photo: Lauren Zick (left) and teammate Ashley Castellanos are two new additions to varsity girls hoops that look to make an impact. Photo by Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sixth-year coach Ernie Colombe has the table set for success when it comes to KHS girls basketball.

Now it just needs the mix of experience and youth to add something positive to the table.

Despite a first-round exit a year ago, KHS improved to 13-15, up from nine wins in 2009-10.

The lower class levels had an astounding combined record of 49-1.

Plus, the Lady Knights return four players that found key minutes a year ago.

Adding the new additions, the Lady Knights’ depth could be a strength, one that’s integral to any hope to improving a 3-7 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

“We’re pretty excited and the kids have been working real hard,” Colombe said. “We have a roster of 14, and right now we have maybe 12 that can start. We have a lot of depth, and it brings new challenges. We’re just trying to find ways to utilitze everyone.”

The girls in the program have been playing the same type of basketball for three years now, making things easier on the coaching staff.

“We have the girls playing the same way now. In past years, what would take us a week of practice to learn now just takes us one day,” Colombe said.

Returning to the fold is senior center Kelly Evers.

“She averaged around 11 points last year. Last year, we had girls that would score a bunch in different games, and she was our go-to player for much of the season, and I think we see that happening again. What we’re seeing is the girls that haven’t played with her before are learning how to use a post player,” Colombe said.

Returning teammates of Evers are returning junior starter Emma Bradford, junior Lexee Guerra and sophomore Marina Schaefer.

“Lexee’s stepped up and become more vocal this year, and she’s part of the guards that are stepping up. Emma’s improved and is a player to watch. Marina has improved, and the biggest thing is that she’s playing with confidence,” Colombe said.

Making the leap to varsity from the vaunted sophomore squad of a year ago are girls like guards Sarah Grams, Aly Harner, Ali Liss, Lauren Zick and Ashley Castellanos.

Looking to score some minutes are junior Allyson O’Herron, already inserted into the starting lineup early on, along with fellow starter Ashley Prost at forward. Seeing time at the forward spot are Brooke Harner and Alex Lyons, while newcomer Liz Barnette plays at the post.

“We got a big group of new players that can contribute. Girls like Grams and Liss and Brooke Harner have played well in practice and Prost has played well at the ‘4’ spot,” Colombe said.

Colombe hesitates to provide a desired record for the upcoming campaign.

“I don’t set a benchmark of winning and losing, because I think that’s a byproduct of several things. What we can control is trying to start an identity. I’d like to see what we are defensively, first and foremost.

The Lady Knights began this past week at Immaculate Conception and have their first non-tourney game on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at East Aurora. The first NIB-12 game is Friday, Dec. 2, vs. Morris.

KHS looking for HOF help

in Boys Cross Country/Girls Basketball/Kaneland/Volleyball/Wrestling by

Kaneland’s Hall of Fame is looking for contact information concerning members of the 1977 volleyball team, 1979 girls’ basketball team, 1982 wrestling team and 1988 boys’ cross-country team.

If a member of the team, contact athletics director Leigh Jaffke at (630) 365-5100, ext. 224, or e-mail leigh.jaffke@kaneland.org.

KHS girls basketball having fun all summer long

in Featured/Girls Basketball by

Photo: Lexee Guerra, shown here going for a layup in Rosemont, Ill., is one Lady Knight seeing quality minutes during summer league play. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Summer has been no time for play if you’re Kaneland High School girls basketball.

Coach Ernie Colombe and crew have been keeping busy with shootouts in Genoa-Kingston, Sterling, Morris, Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and have one scheduled in Ottawa, Ill., this week.

The Lady Knights are also involved in a summer league housed by DeKalb High School, and last Thursday, participated in an exhibition contest against Plano at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., resulting in a win.

“We’ve played tough competition, and we’ve seen improvement. We’ve got the girls lifting and around 30-plus girls are with us right now. You want to see that kind of commitment,” Colombe said.

Colombe can speak from first-hand coaching experience on the benefits of summer league action. The team won eight of nine in a stretch last year, with the 30-game slate going a long way to an improved record in 2010-11.

“Kelly Evers is making her way back from injury; she’s our lone senior. The junior class is full of real competitiors,” Colombe said.

Stats and game scores generally aren’t kept for summer league action, but the summer-wide progress and trip to Rosemont are part of a larger picture.

“We definitely sold it to the girls as a unique opportunity, and they got to be on the floor when the Sky had their shootaround before their game,” Colombe said. “We hope the (sixth-season WNBA franchise Chicago) Sky keep doing something like this.”

The Lady Knights also dealt with a different environment.

“Like the boys when they would go to the United Center, the girls were faced with having their shooting be different. You normally have a wall by the basket, but at the Allstate Arena, you shoot toward seating.”

Colombe has the girls shooting it out all over the area, and thinks KHS has just scratched the surface.

“Evers and Ashley Prost are making their way back from injuries. We haven’t had a regular lineup since we started. Evers will be a force. Lexee Guerra has an improved shot. Emma Bradford could have a breakout year. Marina Schaefer, Ali Liss, Brooke Harner, Prost, Morgan Newhouse and Sarah Grams all play defense and play both ends, which is what we want,” Colombe said.

Area can help Illinois Hoops Hall of Fame launch

in Boys Basketball/Girls Basketball by

by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Westminster Christian High School basketball coach Bruce Firchau is equipped with a brochure about the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum that reads, “For over a century, the game of basketball has played a significant role in the lives of thousands of Illinois residents. From small gyms in rural towns to large arenas in metropolitan areas, basketball has created decades of unforgettable memories and traditions in the state.”

For what Firchau is helping to get off the ground, that describes this state-wide passion project to a ‘T’.

Firchau has not only been an area hoops coach for years, including a stop at Oswego High School, but is also an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association representative and on the board of directors as chairman of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum.

“We are trying to spread the word throughout the state as really making this something memorable,” Firchau said. “The entire state can get involved and there’s plenty of memories from the Kaneland area, as well.”

The Hall of Fame Museum is slated to open in 2013 and housed in the David S. Palmer Arena in downtown Danville, Ill., roughly two hours south of Chicago.

“We chose Danville as a location because it was near Interstate 74, and it’s centrally located,” Firchau said. “Danville is very eager to have it.”

Blueprints and renderings are completed, but the true attraction of the museum will lay in the material within.

The museum will combine video, exhibits, interactive presentations, photographs and memorabilia.

Attractions will highlight players, coaches, officials, teams and media members who have made their mark with the game.

The museum will operate solely on contrbutions from private and corporate benefactors and individuals.

“This museum is going to be all-encompassing,” Firchau said. “Pro, college and high schools will be covered.”

“We have talked to Loyola about memorabilia concerning their NCAA Championship, Wheaton College about its Division II championship and North Park about its Division III championship. Sports information directors from places like NIU, DePaul and (University of Illinois) are all eager and have helped out,” Firchau said.

The museum will also deal with issues of the time, like segregation and the introduction of girls basketball to the Prairie State landscape.

Firchau also mentioned an ambitious exhibit of a school-wide roll call, from schools A to Z, operational to defunct.

This is just one of the many ways Kaneland residents can pitch in to get the future basketball mecca off the ground.

“If someone were to have a letter jacket from the old Elburn or Maple Park high schools, that would help,” Firchau said. “This has been a strong area for basketball. The girls basketball championship came here in 1982. There were coaches like Ron Johnson, George Birkett, and Bob Pederson in the past that gave so much back to the community. If someone wanted to contribute an old uniform or had old films, that’s the type of thing we’re looking for.”

The Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum can be contacted at: 100 W. Main Street, Ste. 146. Danville, IL 61832, and called at (217) 442-DUNK. E-mail contact is info@ilhoopshall.com, and can be clicked at www.ilhoopshall.com.

‘Grand’ accomplishment

in Boys Track/Football/Girls Basketball/Girls Cross Country/Girls Track/Kaneland by


The Kaneland Sports Boosters offer four $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors each year. The student write an essay with the theme “Lessons learned in victory and defeat”. These scholarships were awarded at the Senior Athletic Banquet sponsored by the boosters and the athletic office on May 25th. The winners this year were: (from left) Curtis Secrest, Andrea Strang, Kristina Bowen and Trevor Holm. Courtesy Photo

Winter sports awards, NIB-12 honors dished out

in Bowling/Boys Basketball/Girls Basketball/Wrestling by

KANELAND—For boys basketball, captains Matt Cowans, Tyler Callaghan and Chaon Denlinger were recognized. Most Improved Player nods went to Zach Ringhouse and Trever Heinle. Denlinger also took home the Most Valuable Player. Callghan was awarded Defensive Player of the Year, and freshman teammate Daniel Helm was named Offensive Player of the Year. Kory Harner was named the winner of the Mr. Husle Award, and the All-Northern Ilinois Big XII entries were Denlinger and Helm.

For girls basketball, Defensive Player of the Year honor went to senior Andie Strang and teammate Emily Heimerdinger.

Kelly Evers was named MVP of the varsity squad, while teammate Emma Bradford took home the Most Improved Player award.

Heimerdinger was also award Ms. Kaneland Basketball and made honorable mention for the Northern Illinois Big XII, while Evers added to her awards with a Northern lllinois Big XII all-conference mention.

For sophomore girls basketball, Ashley Prost was named MVP. Brooke Harner was given the Defensive Player of the Year award, followed by Ashley Castellanos and Morgan Newhouse combining on the Most Improved Player awards.

Ms. Kaneland Basketball for the sophomore unit went to Sarah Grams.

Additionally, Alli Liss was named the winner of the Sophomore Hustle Chart Winner.

For the freshman level, Lauren Zick was named MVP and Sydney Strang was awarded Defensive Player of the Year. Most Improved Player was shared by Kelly Wallner and Katie Brinkman. Ms. Basketball went to Amber Winquist-Bailey, while Strang and Caroline Heimerdinger shared captains honors.

Knights wrestling issued a handful of awards, beginning with Kyle Davidson and Jimmy Boyle taking the Most Valuable Wrestler honors.

Zach Theis was named MVW of the JV ranks. Stephen Gust took home the Most Improved Wrestler award. The JV Most Improved Wrestler nod went to David Barnhart.

Andrew Essex was named the Bob Domena Memorial Award Hardest Worker.

Ben Kovalick was given the Dave Osman Memorial Award Most Dedicated Wrestler honor. The Russell Anderson Memorial Award was given to Dan Goress.

Davidson and Boyle were recognized as team captains, and Zach Ganz took home the Heart and Soul Award.

Finally, Boyle, Kovalick, Goress, Davidson and Keagan Mattes were honored for their inclusion on the All-Northern Illinois Big XII team.

For Kaneland Lady Knights bowling, Holly Thomas took home recognition for high series, high game, high average and captainship.

Morgan Wojciechowski was named Most Improved Bowler, and Seleana Isaacs was named Most Improved, as well. Isaacs also was given the coach’s award.

Grabbing success at Grayslake

in Community Sports/Girls Basketball by

The 7th Grade Girls Kaneland Silver Stars Basketball Team were crowned champions of the 2011 Grayslake Basketball Tournament after beating Stevenson, 23-22 on Feb. 26. Photo includes head coach; Chad Conley, assistant coach, Chris Gould, team players: (top row, from left) Bailey Crimmins, (middle row), Taylor Emigh, Kiandra Powell, Ashley Hochsprung, Meg Cohrs, Vanessa Gould, (bottom row) Camri Conley, Holly Fedderly and Nicole Koczka.

Courtesy Photo

Evers heads NIB-12 hoops first team

in Featured/Girls Basketball by

KANELAND—Even though the Kaneland girls basketball season came to an end 10 days ago, the good news was still able to pour in on Tuesday.

With the Northern Illinois Big XII girls basketball All-Conference team voted on by coaches and released, Lady Knights Kelly Evers was a unanimous selection to the first team, and teammate Emily Heimerdinger was named to the honorable mention group in the East Division.

Evers, a six-foot junior, was recognized for her everyday starting contributions, and for helping the 13-16 Lady Knights to their best mark in five years.

DeKalb had three players on the first team, including co-MVP Kelli Gerace, Emily Remis and Taylor White. Rochelle added Katie Swartz and Cassidy Ziech. Morris supplied co-MVP Layney Miller.

Sycamore’s Lake Kwaza rounded out the first team.

For the honorable mention, Heimerdinger closed her senior season with the nod to the NIB-12 core best. DeKalb’s Courtney Patrick represented the Lady Barbs, while Rochelle’s Shanna Metzger joins her.

Morris added Alex Granger and Leslie Claire to the honorable mention list. Yorkville supplied Jenny Taptich and Jordann Dhuse. Sycamore’s Ashley Berlinski rounded out the list.

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