KANELAND—As seems par for the course, the Knights wrestling program will have a familiar face leading the matmen.
Beginning this fall, the Knights will be steered by new head coach and Class of 2004 alum Jeremy Kenny, who was recommended for the position in April and approved at the KHS school board meeting on Monday.
“For me, I had a feeling it was going to happen,” Kenny said. “After talking to Monty (Jahns) and to have it be official, I think it was relief.”
Kenny, who was a State qualifier under former coach Gary Baum, takes over for fellow alum Jahns, who stepped away to focus more on responsibilities at his day job with Nicor Gas.
Kenny, the former two-year NIU Huskie wrestler, has seen almost every potential wrestler come through the ranks in Maple Park since joining the coaching staff six seasons ago.
“Monty and I ran together with the program; I’ve been able to learn the program, and he gave me flexibility,” Kenny said.
Jahns, himself a decorated Kaneland wrestler who graduated in 1982, helped launch the Knights Wrestling Club in 1987 and had seen virtually all the eventual Knight wrestlers take the mat.
A member of the Kaneland Hall of Fame and a former State qualifier, Jahns served as varsity assistant coach before taking over as head coach from Gary Baum for the 2008-09 campaign.
The Jahns era had a handful of State qualifiers, beginning with Jay Levita in 2008-09, Jimmy Boyle and Kyle Davidson in 2009-10, Boyle again in 2010-11, Stephen Gust, Esai Ponce, Dan Goress and Ben Kovalick in 2011-12, and Ponce, Zach Theis and 145-state State champ Goress this past season.
Kenny, employed as a full-time security guard at KHS, has an idea of a head coaching style already.
“I guess my style is action. I never like to ask the kids do something that I wouldn’t be willing to ask of myself,” Kenny said.
Kenny, who knows what it’s like to be one of the select few grapplers to make it to Champaign, Ill., as part of the 171-pound class, won’t just be a coach, but a fan and believer of the sport.
“I just want to develop the program more,” Kenny said. “I want to help make these kids into good young adults. Wrestling is one of the great sports for life lessons.”
Photo: KHS head coach Brian Johnson works with his team during this past season’s action.
Exhibition to take place at Illinois Wesleyan University this June by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In theory, you always have a chance to witness hoops talent up close as a basketball coach.
In coach Brian Johnson’s case, the chance to do so will be right in front of his face this summer.
The four-year Kaneland High School boys basketball coach was informed last week of his appointment to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association 3A/4A All-Star Game, held at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center on June 29.
Johnson, who has won two Northern Illinois Big XII titles with the Knights roster in the last three years, said he is humbled by the opportunity and recognition.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Johnson said. “Some of those coaches that have been down there are legends.”
The IBCA has a committee select the North and South Teams, with I-80 as the boundary. The teams will be selected from a pool of senior All-State teams, with around 25 players total.
“I had been approached by the IBCA to come on as coach; I had done some stuff for them in the past,” Johnson said. “It had been brought up a couple of months ago.”
Johnson saw the Knights’ season end at the hands of St. Francis of Wheaton last month in the IMSA Regional, but his coaching prowess will be called on to manage some top-tier talent.
“We get down there on Friday and see the different players, and have a couple practices before Saturday’s game,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s trail to head coach involved Dundee-Crown High School, where he worked as an assistant, and the North coaching staff will carry significance.
“Lance Huber will be an assistant coach; he gave me a shot at Dundee-Crown and helped out so much to get me where I am today,” Johnson said.
In the midst of summer league action, Johnson will have a responsibility with quite the spotlight, but with the honor bestowed and the all-star talent at his disposal, the Knights’ sideline roamer is keeping the stress at bay.
“I’m going to go down there and have a good time,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be fun.”
The festivities in Bloomington, Ill., are also scheduled to feature a similar 1A/2A All-Star Game that same weekend.
Five Kaneland Harter Middle School students qualified for IKWF State Wrestling Championship this year at the BMO center in Rockford, Ill.: Riley Vanik (left to right), Luke Eggenberger, Jacob Shearer, Mitch Jones and Trevor Jones. Jones was the lone medalist, taking fifth place at 130 pounds in the novice division.
Worcester, Mass.—Holy Cross junior forward Dave Dudzinski, of Elburn, has been selected to the 2012-13 All-Patriot League second team in men’s basketball, as voted by the conference’s head coaches.
Dudzinski, a graduate of Kaneland High School, has averaged a team-best 15 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots per game this year, while hitting 47.9 percent (157 of 328) of his field goal attempts and 82.4 percent (103 of 125) of his free throws. He finished the regular season ranked fourth in the league in scoring, fourth in rebounding, fourth in free throw percentage, eighth in blocked shots and ninth in field goal percentage.
Dudzinski has led the team in scoring 15 times this year and scored in double-figures 25 times. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 831 points, 439 rebounds and 68 blocked shots, while connecting on 49.2 percent (305 of 620) of his field goals and 80.3 percent (188 of 234) of his free throws. Dudzinski currently ranks sixth all-time at Holy Cross in career free throw percentage.
Photo: Guard Drew David is fouled while trying to get to the hoop during the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 43-32 loss to St. Francis at the Class 3A IMSA Regional Feb. 27. Photo by Patti Wilk
Fourth quarter sees fortune upended in 11-point regional loss by Mike Slodki
AURORA—If it weren’t for a tough fourth quarter, Kaneland boys basketball could be talking about a regional final in Aurora.
An evenly matched game at Illinois Math and Science Academy against the No. 2 seed St. Francis was a tight affair, until the Spartans made a run and stopped the Knights 43-32 on Feb. 27.
The game was rescheduled due to less-than-stellar travel conditions and snowfall on Feb. 26.
Kaneland’s road stops with a 16-12 record for 2012-13, after garnering 17 victories in each of coach Brian Johnson’s first three seasons.
In 2011-12, the Knights powered through to the sectional semifinal in Sycamore before losing to Rockford East.
Aurora Central Catholic pulled an upset over Wheaton Academy, 41-37, in the first game of the evening, while the 3A Regional final on Friday featured St. Francis taking the plaque over ACC by a 46-43 tally.
St. Francis was scheduled to face Sycamore in the Freeport Sectional on Wednesday.
Senior Dan Miller paced the Knights with 10 points, while fellow senior Matt Limbrunner added nine.
It was fitting that the last challenge was buoyed by the two lone seniors in coach Johnson’s program this year.
“Those two came from a sophomore team that went 24-1; you look forward to getting that group. They stick with it and everyone else kind of disappears. They stuck with the program and gave me all they had, and they were my first freshman class,” Johnson said.
Senior Tim Zettinger had a game-high 21 for St. Francis.
In the first frame, Tyler Carlson’s bucket and a later free throw gave KHS a 7-2 lead with 3:17 left, but the Spartans scored the last six points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating arc from Zettinger to fall behind 8-7.
Kaneland’s shooting touch disappeared the last half of the second quarter, with Limbrunner’s two foul shots breaking a 4:21 drought to close within 15-14. The Spartans’ bucket with 45.9 left extended the lead to 17-14 before halftime.
The Knights’ shooting touch picked up to give the lower seed a lift in the third quarter. Limbrunner hit a shot, followed by two from Miller and a baseline jumper from John Pruett that tied the score at 22-22 with 4:45 to go.
A feed from Limbrunner found Pruett to take the lead for KHS at 24-22 with 2:59. After a foul shot and steal and follow-through from St. Francis, a Limbrunner contested shot gave the Knights a 26-25 edge with 37.2 to go in the third quarter.
With both squads looking for their edge, Miller’s two free throws closed it to 29-28 after St. Francis took a lead.
Kaneland took its last lead of the game on a Limbrunner three with 4:15 to go for a 31-29 lead before St. Francis went on a 14-1 run to close the game. The Spartans went 7-for-8 from the foul line to help their cause. The final point of the season for KHS was a Drew David free throw with 1:16 remaining to close within 37-32.
“We didn’t hit shots down the stretch,” Johnson said. “We didn’t take care of the ball; there were a few times in the third quarter that hurt. Matt (Limbrunner) hit that three, and we got a lead. It could have went either way, and unfortunately it went against us.”
Photo: Tyler Carlson (right) stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win.
KHS comes from behind for conference championship; passes IMSA in regional action by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Kaneland closed out the regular season Friday with a big come-from-behind win over Rochelle to lock up the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Championship. The Knights followed that by opening the post season with a huge 39-point victory over host Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA).
A site of many entertaining and tight battles, the Knights traveled to Rochelle on Friday to conclude the regular season with a close 69-66 victory.
John Pruett led the charge with 19 points, followed by Matt Limbrunner with 16 and Drew David with 10.
Rochelle jumped atop Kaneland’s hopes with an 18-9 lead after one and maintained a 38-26 lead at halftime.
Kaneland righted the game with a 20-9 run spanning the entire third quarter to close within 47-46 before a 23-19 fourth tipped the scales the Knights’ way.
Kaneland engineered dramatic victories to clinch its first conference championship in three decades two years ago, and mustered a comeback win over the Hubs in the Rochelle Regional final a year ago.
Kaneland’s 16th win of the season (16-11) came in the opening round of the Illinois Math and Science Academy Regional on Monday night in Aurora. Kaneland, the No. 3 seed, pounded the No. 6 host Titans by a 79-40 score, and were set to meet No. 2 St. Francis of Wheaton on Tuesday before inclement weather and travel conditions postponed the clash until Wednesday night. Results were unavailable for press time.
“We’re going to have to come with our best game,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said before Wednesday’s tip. “They’re (St. Francis) a very strong and solid team. They work really well together, and their defense is outstanding.”
Earlier action on Monday had the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers edge the Marmion Academy Cadets 53-51. ACC will tip-off against No. 1 Wheaton Academy before the Knights-Spartans meeting.
Four Knights found their way to the double-figures zone on Monday: Dylan Vaca with a game-high 19 points behind four three-pointers, Pruett with 15, Limbrunner with 15 and Dan Miller with 10.
For IMSA, junior Isiah Butler connected on five treys for a team-high 18 points.
In a high-tempo first quarter, Kaneland saw opportunities pay off in either putbacks or trips to the foul line. Miller hit the front end of a pair with 3:40 left in the frame for a 12-3 Knight lead. After Butler hit a three to make it 12-6, Limbrunner’s shot made it 14-6 with 3:01 to play. After another IMSA bucket made it 14-8 with 1:57 to play, Limbrunner sunk a trifecta 36 ticks later to make it 17-8 before a Butler three with 52.8 left closed the first frame scoring at 17-11.
Kaneland then put up a 24-spot in the second quarter and looked at a 41-24 lead going into the halftime break.
A Butler basket five seconds into the quarter closed the deficit to 17-13, with KHS going on a gigantic 13-0 run. Tyler Carlson’s three, Miller’s basket, a Pruett putback, a Limbrunner putback, a Cole Carlson bucket and a Pruett baseliner within a 2:54 span made it 30-13 and had Kaneland sailing.
David, Limbrunner and Pruett put up multiple baskets in the third quarter, and the Knights saw their lead balloon to 27 points, 58-31, after three.
Kaneland’s basket with 22.5 left put the lead at 40 before IMSA inched closer by the end.
Miller and the gang took note of what IMSA was trying to accomplish and after a period of adjustment, was able to execute their desired gameplan.
“It was really good to get a victory tonight,” Miller said. “You’d prefer to make your first baskets, but we focused in practice on getting to the offensive glass. That’s a big part of our game.”
If the Knights defeated Wheaton St. Francis Wednesday night (results were unavailable as of press time), they would face the winner of Wheaton Academy and Aurora Central Catholic on Friday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. at IMSA.
Photo: Kaneland’s Dan Goress wins the Class 2A State Wrestling Championship in the 145- pound weight class at the University of Illinois Champaign on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Goress wins state title for 1st KHS wrestling crown in 20 years by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland last saw one of its wrestlers crowned an individual state champion before current KHS senior Dan Goress was born.
After this weekend in Champaign, Ill., Goress has assured his name will be remembered for a long time.
For the first time since Scott Brewer captured the 145-pound title in 1993, Goress (41-3) became the seventh State champ in school history by taking the 145-pound category after Saturday’s action at Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois.
“It was really exciting,” Goress said. “During my match, I did what I needed to do to take the lead and didn’t want to make any mistakes. Once I won, I looked up into the stands and saw everybody cheering. It was a feeling that I can’t describe.”
Other State reps for Kaneland included heavyweight Zach Theis taking fifth place, and Esai Ponce in the 132-pound group.
In the preliminary opener, Goress’ skill carried him to a 4-2 decision over Springfield Haratio Austin.
“After my first match, I was really disappointed. They were like, ‘You gotta keep your head up, that’s what the matches are going to come down to.’ You can’t be mad because you won by two points,” Goress said.
Goress then got past Crystal Lake Central foe Kyle Fugiel in the second round by a 4-3 decision.
As part of semifinal competition, Goress defeated Mt. Vernon’s Chase Vosburgh, 5-3, giving Vosburgh just his second setback of the season.
For 145-pound glory in the final, Goress knocked off Montini Catholic counterpart Michael Sepke by a 3-2 margin.
“They’re all solid wrestlers. Every single one of those kids deserved to be down there,” Goress said. “I wasn’t going to get tech falls or major decisions; I was going out there to win. I wasn’t going to try to impress anybody.”
At 285 pounds, Kaneland’s Zach Theis (35-8) earned a 2:11 pinfall over Vernon Hills’ Joe Blitstein in the first round, then lost to Springfield Southeast’s Copache Tyler in 3:06.
Maneuvering his way into wrestlebacks, Theis took it to Tinley Park’s Danny Korycki in 2:09 and Freeport’s Kendal Parker in 3:09. In the semifinal wrestleback, Theis was edged by Chicago’s Lavontay Cobb of King High School by a 5-2 margin.
Theis earned redemption in the final match of his season, beating Northside Prep of Chicago’s Ben Mauk-O’Connor in 2:26 to earn fifth place.
At 132 pounds, Kaneland teammate Ponce (33-5) was defeated in his only match of the journey, losing 5-2 to Mike Gussarson of Antioch, the eventual fifth-place winner.
With the end of the 2012-13 campaign, the Knights say goodbye to David Barnhart, Goress, Stephen Gust, Sonny Horn, Ponce, Nick Sharp, Theis and Connor Williams.
Photo: Emma Bradford (32) gets ready to launch a shot in the third quarter against Plano on Feb. 13. The varsity girls reached the second round of regionals but came up just short, losing 52-51. Photo by John DiDonna
Fast, furious comeback falls 1 point short to Plano in Regional by Mike Slodki
BURLINGTON—It was almost a comeback for the ages.
Instead, it’s a feeling of sadness that will last the offseason.
On Feb. 13, at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional, the Lady Knights’ 20-point comeback attempt was almost complete, but Aly O’Herron’s three-point try off an inbounds pass with 1.5 seconds remaining clanked off the side of the rim, leaving KHS on the short end of a 52-51 loss to the Plano Lady Reapers (22-7).
Burlington Central upended Plano in the regional final on Friday by a final of 38-34.
Kaneland’s journey fell short at 16-11, a year after advancing to the Sycamore Sectional final against Belvidere North.
Ashley Prost paced all scorers with 22 points off 11-of-15 shooting. Kaneland was 21-of-51 from the line.
Albana Hoti of Plano led the Lady Reapers with 12 points.
KHS had the ball with 9.5 seconds left, but an Emma Bradford layup attempt was blocked out of bounds with 1.5, setting up the final play.
“We had two options: an inside look and an outside look,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “(O’Herron) was our outside look; we got a shot and that’s all you can ask for.”
Plano ambushed Kaneland in the first quarter thanks to five treys, including three from Hoti, and went on a 13-0 run to lead 22-6 after one, and kept the lead to 30-14 at halftime.
Kaneland was down 42-27 after three quarters, but turned on the juice for a 24-10 run spanning the entire fourth frame.
“It was no one adjustment we made, we just starting getting a bit more composure,” Colombe said.
KHS scored the first eight points of the quarter to cut the lead to seven, then Brooke Harner, Grams and Prost hit baskets.
Down 48-42, Caroline Heimerdinger hit a rainbow three, followed by another basket 48 seconds later to make it 50-47. Prost’s shot with 1:45 to go cut it to 50-49, and marked the end of five consecutive shots made.
Heimerdinger and O’Herron had chances for a go-ahead shot but couldn’t connect.
Prost’s shot with 35.6 to go made the final one-point margin after two Lady Reaper free throws with 48.6 left.
Kaneland says goodbye to Grams, Prost, Ashley Castellanos, Harner, O’Herron and Bradford due to graduation.
“They’re leaders,” Colombe said. “They’re six kids who play with heart, and they’re leaders who will do well whatever they do in life.”
Photo: Cole Carlson (44) and Matt Limbrunner (42) fight for possession in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
Boys’ loss at Morris brings skid to 5 before win at Dixon by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A trip to Dixon, Ill., was just what the doctor ordered.
After a five-game losing streak that would make anyone ill, the Knight boys hoops squad traveled to their Northern Illinois Big XII crossover rival and beat the host Dukes by a final of 76-62 on Saturday.
It helped remedy some of the ill feelings of a 50-46 loss in Morris on Friday that saw KHS outscored 32-19 in the second half.
KHS is now 14-11 (6-3 NIB-12).
Against Dixon, the Knights were paced by Cole Carlson’s 17 and Matt Limbrunner’s 15.
The Knights were up 23-10 after one and 37-22 at the halftime buzzer before expanding the lead to 57-36 after three. The Dukes went on a 26-19 run in the fourth, but all for naught.
Against the rival Redskins, baskets by Dan Miller and Limbrunner made it 12-3 in favor of KHS with 2:14 remaining. Morris’ last bucket made it 12-5 before the end of the frame.
Kaneland converted all four shots from the field and went 5-for-7 from the line, going into halftime with a 27-18 lead.
KHS would only go two-for-nine from the foul line the rest of the way, however.
“(Free throws) have been a topic for about a month now,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.
Morris would make a charge and take a 36-34 lead with 2:20 to go in the quarter before John Pruett’s bucket tied the score.
Limbrunner’s basket with 1:34 to play sent the end of the frame into a 38-38 tie.
A Redskin three gave the hosts the lead for good at 41-38 with 6:23 to go, as the Knights were forced to play catch-up.
A three by Drew David with seven ticks left closed the lead to 48-46, but two free throws gave the game its final four-point margin.
“We were just poor on both ends of the floor and especially from the free throw line at the end. You’re playing at Morris. I was happy with what we did in the first half. The second quarter worried me a bit,” Johnson said.
The end of the regular season hits on Friday, Feb. 22, in Rochelle.
On Monday, Feb. 25, the Knights, the No. 3 seed in the IMSA Regional in Aurora, faces off against the host Titans at 7:30 p.m., with the winner facing St. Francis of Wheaton (No. 2) on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
Photo: Senior Zach Theis won a 3-0 decision against Sterling in the 285 pound weight class at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional on Saturday. File Photo
Three wrestlers punch State ticket by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It wasn’t 1994 or 2012 levels, but the KHS wrestling squad will take the sectional output.
After sending its biggest State contingent in 18 years a year ago with four representatives, Kaneland continued its upward trajectory in a tough Class 2A Rochelle Sectional.
Esai Ponce (138 pounds) and Dan Goress (145 pounds) are going back to Champaign’s Assembly Hall on Thursday, Feb. 14, as was the style last year, and are joined by heavyweight entry Zach Theis under the guidance of coaches Monty Jahns, Jeremy Kenny and Mike Thorgesen.
Goress and Theis both captured their group’s title after the completion of action in Ogle County on Saturday.
Ponce, a senior, started his high school wrestling tenure in the old 103-pound category and knows his work is not complete just yet.
“At regionals, I thought I was wrestling pretty well,” Ponce said. “At sectionals, I felt like I could have done better, but I still wrestled pretty well. I only had one new opponent from the year in the third-place match and did pretty well against him. That could be an advantage in some cases.
While Rock Island’s Chase Wiggins and Pontiac’s Stephen Richardson claimed the top two spots, Ponce (33-5) earned a 7-0 win over Washington’s Randy Meneweather in the third-place match to end the weekend.
Ponce is scheduled to face Antioch’s Mike Gussarson, who ventures to Champaign with a record of 36-10.
Goress qualified at 138 pounds a year ago, and makes the trip again at a higher weight class.
Goress (38-3) toppled Rock Island junior Jean-Louis Sawadago by 5-2 count.
It almost didn’t matter who was placed in front of Goress this past weekend.
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t look at anyone in the sectional or my bracket. I wrestled whoever they put in front of me. I just went out there and wrestled and had one goal,” Goress said.
Goress is scheduled to face Springfield entry Haratio Austin (34-7).
Theis, a 32-6 senior, battled fellow Northern Illinois Big XII grappler Curtis Lilly of Sterling in the final and bested the Golden Warrior by a 3-0 tally.
“It’s just getting back to basics and trying to keep the usual this week and going at it over and over,” Theis said. “I’m peaking right now, but there’s always more work to be done.”
Theis draws Chicago’s Lamar Johnson (19-6) of Crane Tech in the opening match.
The 2A tournament begins at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Feb. 14.
Photo: Emma Bradford keeps the ball away from Sandwich defenders during Kaneland’s 50-14 Regional win at Burlington on Tuesday. Photo by John DiDonna
O’Herron outscores Indians by lonesome in 50-14 result by Mike Slodki
BURLINGTON—You wouldn’t know the Kaneland Lady Knights had a week-long layoff by Tuesday night’s regional performance.
It turns out Sandwich High School didn’t know what hit it after Tuesday night.
After a regular season finale at Rochelle was cancelled last Thursday, Kaneland went to work in a No. 3 vs. No. 6 Class 3A Burlington Central Regional first-round game and allowed a season-low in points for a 50-14 win.
Kaneland improved to 16-10 and has won four in a row after a three-game skid. Sandwich ended 2012-13 play at 4-23.
Aly O’Herron outscored the Lady Indians by herself with 20 points on six three-pointers.
“Anytime I can get into the zone, I’ll get some open looks,” O’Herron said. “When I feel it, I feel it. Any shooter will say that.”
The defensive output marks the lowest point total allowed since a 52-19 win over Illinois Math and Science Academy back on Feb. 2.
O’Herron’s trifecta, Kelly Wallner’s basket, Sarah Grams’ trey and Caroline Heimerdinger’s (eight points) three made it 11-2 with 3:01 to go to in the first quarter, closing the frame’s scoring.
Kaneland outscored Sandwich 11-2 in the second quarter, as well, with an O’Herron bomb and two Emma Bradford foul shots setting the eventual halftime score at 22-4 with 1:36 remaining.
With Sandwich struggling to finish possessions thanks to three KHS steals, the Lady Knights converted those gifts into a pair of free throws and a three-pointer by Heimerdinger and a shot by Ashley Prost to make it 36-8 with 1:21 left in the third quarter to close the frame’s scoring.
O’Herron’s two threes and an offensive putback by Heimerdinger with 4:10 to go made it 44-10, allowing the second-string rotation to get floor time.
“The defense was solid, and it has been pretty solid,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “Our conference is strong in girls hoops and people forget that sometimes. We’ve played pretty solid defensively all year.”
Kaneland was scheduled to face two-seed Plano on Wednesday in the regional semifinal, with results unavailable before press time.
The winner of Plano/Kaneland was set to face No. 1 Burlington Central or No. 5 Hampshire on Friday, Feb. 15, in Burlington.
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.
Photo: Dane Goodenough, wrestling at 122 pounds, gets a momentary upper hand against a Belvidere North foe at the IHSA Sycamore Regional Tournament on Saturday. Photo by John DiDonna
KHS grapplers have fine 2nd-place showing in Sycamore by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—If it weren’t for the hosts, KHS could brag even more. But KHS isn’t the bragging type of team; it is more the diligent worker-type.
With 144.5 team points during Saturday’s Class 2A Sycamore Regional, KHS earned second place overall.
Sycamore’s 210 total was the runaway winner, while Rockford Boylan had 108.5 total points and a third-place finish.
Glenbard South (99.5), Belvidere North (83.5) and Rockford East (76.5) stuck slots four through six, and Burlington Central (49.5), St. Francis (45) and Belvidere (41) rounded out the nine-team field.
KHS finished third overall at the 2012 DeKalb Regional, showing improvement over a year’s time.
“They’re just totally focused, you can see it,” KHS coach Monty Jahns said, “They put forth the effort, and I’m impressed.”
Esai Ponce earned the 132-pound championship mantle by beating Belvidere North’s Psalm Frambro in 4:23 and a 10-2 major decision in the final over BC’s Brady Weinrich.
Teammate Sonny Horn was crowned regional king of the 138-pound class after beating Sycamore’s Andrew Larsen in 5:16 and moving on to pin St. Francis’ Alex Alcantara in 3:10.
Knight Dan Goress continued the KHS domination of the middle weights by taking the 145-pound class. Goress completed a 19-4 technical fall over Rockford East’s Frank Eslora and an injury default over Sycamore’s Dylan Foster.
Heavyweight Zach Theis captured the group’s title by sticking a :22 pin on Belvidere North’s Jake Rodgers and winning 2-0 over Rockford East’s Mike Estergard in the final.
Vet Stephen Gust was second overall in the 113-pound group. Gust won a 4-2 OT battle with Belvidere North’s Riccardo Roman before losing to Sycamore’s Kyle Akins in a 15-0 technical fall in the final.
At 120-pounds, Connor Williams managed a third-place finish after an 11-6 win over Mason Castillo of Rockford East and a 6-0 sweep of Sycamore’s Collin Druck.
At 220 pounds, senior Nick Sharp’s third-place finish was highlighted by a 3:50 pin over Boylan’s Zach Matthews and a 1:30 pin over Matthews in 1:30.
At 106 pounds, Adam Mish finished fourth. In the consolation bracket, Mish took a 5-1 decision over Burlington Central’s Nick Maldonado before losing to Sycamore’s Bryce Hansen 7-5 in the third-place encounter.
“This week, it’s a little different with the numbers down. There’s a little bit more fine-tuning and individualized coaching,” Jahns said.
KHS sends its exemplary individuals to the Rochelle Sectional on Saturday, Feb. 9, along with athletes from the Pontiac, Rock Island and Morton Regionals.
Photo: Brittany Kemp moves the ball around an IMSA defender during Kaneland’s 52-19 romp on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Girls secure NIB12 win in Yorkville, smash IMSA by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—At the very least, Kaneland girls basketball won’t be headed into the season’s homestretch on the way down.
After a 7-0 beginning to the season, KHS had been mired in a stretch that saw them go 5-10.
This weekend brought a much-needed refuge from that slide, as the Lady Knights took it to Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora on Saturday by a final of 52-19, and also involved a bit of revenge on Yorkville in a 42-35 Friday win.
Kaneland also travelled to Marengo on Tuesday night, where the Lady Knights dominated in a 50-34 win.
The Lady Knights are 15-10 and 5-4 in Northern Illinois Big XII action, with just one regular season game left.
Against the Lady Titans, the Kaneland crew was down 6-2 early in the first quarter before tying the score at 6-6 by the end of the frame and going on a 35-2 run to cinch it. The run included a 19-0 third frame in favor of Kaneland.
KHS went 19-of-54 from the field and 11 players found the scoring column, with Aly O’Herron and Sarah Grams putting up eight points each.
Facing Yorkville, which earned a Jan. 4 victory in Maple Park, the Lady Knights began matching shot for shot against the Lady Foxes and were tied at eight after the first quarter.
In the second, Ashley Prost’s long two-pointer with 4:43 to go in the half made it 15-12. Vanessa Gould’s conversion off an Emma Bradford feed with 3:09 left made it 17-14, and Brooke Harner’s steal and basket with 1:39 closed out the second quarter scoring at 19-14.
KHS maintained the lead and got two key baskets from Bradford to up the lead to six with 50.1 ticks left, and Kaneland saw itself up 28-22 after three.
The Lady Knights helped themselves with three-pointers from Grams and O’Herron in the fourth, and went 8-of-10 from the foul line to put it out of reach. KHS saw as big as an eight-point lead in the close affair.
“We played together today,” Bradford said. “One of the girls said ‘we played as a fist today and not a hand.’ We were on the same page today and it really worked out.”
KHS coach Ernie Colombe saw the win as welcome, especially after stifling personnel like Mackenzie Bollinger to 10 points.
“The team rose to the challenge. We talked about rebounding, and we rebounded well. We still had a few too many turnovers, but we got better in that area and stepped up,” Colombe said.
Tuesday saw another solid effort from the Lady Knights, as they turned a two-point first-quarter advantage into a 19-point lead after three. Kaneland’s defense held Marengo to just four points in the second period, and they added to the lead with a 10-point third-period advantage.
Bradford led the way with 14 points and seven rebounds. Post also reached double figures, with 10 points to go with eight rebounds. O’Herron added seven and Harner put up six. Grams scored five and contributed a season-high seven assists. Kelly Wallner chipped in four points, and Ally VanBogaert and Marina Schaeffer each put in two.
Kaneland goes to Rochelle on Thursday, Feb. 7, before playing Sandwich on Tuesday, Feb. 12, as part of the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional.
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.
Lady Knights collect another dual win in final head-to-head by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—While the pins stopped falling after Saturday’s IHSA Sectional hosted by Schaumburg High School, Kaneland’s senior-laden lineup was able to see hard work pay off on Jan. 30 in the final dual opportunity of the year.
At Mardi Gras Lanes in DeKalb, the Lady Knights took it to visiting Lisle by a final of 2,604-2,425.
Ellissa Eckert bowled a team-high series of 509, followed by Morgan Wojciechowski’s 444.
Eckert’s 178 was good for team-high game, followed by a 176 by Wojciechowski.
Kaneland’s 2012-13 dual mark ended at 3-6.
At Schaumburg, Lake Park’s 5,481 pin count was tops, along with fellow advancing team Schaumburg’s 5,478.
Kaneland finished in 13th out of 17 squads with a mark of 4,126, 90 behind Streamwood.
Kaneland says goodbye to seniors Angela Charhut, Ellissa Eckert, Anne Salerno, Amanda Strayve and Morgan Wojciechowski.
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.
Photo: Vanessa Gould tries to get by a Sterling defender on Saturday evening. The Lady Knights came back, but lost the home contest, 52-40. Photo by John DiDonna
Lady Knights drop tussle to Sterling by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It wouldn’t be a nice way to end the season, but for KHS girls basketball, the beginning of the end won’t even start for another two weeks.
Facing conference mate Sterling on Saturday afternoon, the visiting Lady Warriors took it to the Lady Knights by a final of 52-40.
Kaneland fell to 12-10 in its only competition of the week, and remains 4-4 in Northern Illinois Big XII East division play.
Kaneland has lost three skirmishes in a row, and is now 4-6 in its last 10 outings.
On an afternoon that saw KHS shoot 14-for-47 from the field, perimeter threat Aly O’Herron tallied a game-high 18 points, while teammate and post presence Ashley Prost put up 10. O’Herron also put up four-three pointers and three steals on a six-for-12 day from the field.
Sterling got the jump early with a 12-3 lead after the first eight minutes. The Lady Warriors maintained a lead going into halftime with a 24-12 advantage.
Kaneland countered somewhat and closed the deficit to 34-24 after three before Sterling outscored the hosts 18-16 in the final frame.
In additional news, Kaneland was informed of postseason details last week.
The Lady Knights, sectional finalists of a year ago, are part of the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional as a third seed.
Kaneland is set to play No. 6 Sandwich on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. That contest follows the matchup between (4) Sycamore and (5) Hampshire at 6 p.m.
“We have been scouting and game planning for each upcoming opponent and also for each potential regional opponent since the sites were announced awhile ago,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “We are trying to keep the team focused on the upcoming game and taking things one game at a time. As a staff, we are preparing for the regionals by scouting and putting some films together, etc. We are also working on a few changes that we feel may help us gain an edge at the end of the season.”
The Kaneland-Sandwich victor plays No. 2 Plano of the Interstate Eight Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. The Spartans-Whip-purs winner will match up with top-seed Burlington Central that same evening at 6 p.m.
The regional title game is Friday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m., with the winner headed to the Genoa-Kingston Sectional and joining winners from Stillman Valley, Sterling and Woodstock.
KHS travels to Yorkville on Friday, Feb. 1. The Lady Foxes bested Kaneland back on Jan. 4 in a 39-26 encounter in Maple Park.
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—There would be no repeat of last year’s final regular season stop.
Closing out the 2012-13 campaign before the postseason begins this weekend, the Knights travelled to Batavia to face the former conference rival Bulldogs on Friday and were handed a 42-30 loss.
It failed to be as joyous as last year’s tiebreaker win over the Bulldogs. Nonetheless, the Knights finish the regular slate at 13-13, a slight improvement over last year’s 11-12 tally.
The Knights found wins from Stephen Gust in a 113-pound bout, thanks to a technical fall, 15-0. After a 120-pound forfeit for Luke Kreiter, George Strang also took a forfeit at 132. Reliable asset Esai Ponce took his 138-pound encounter by 4-1 decision, and Dan Goress took his 145-pound match in a scant 42 seconds.
Kagen Workman won his 152-pound match by 13-4 major decision to round out the victories.
Up next for KHS is the Sycamore Individual Regional for Class 2A.
Joining the Knights at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, are schools Belvidere, Belvidere North, Burlington Central, Glenbard South, Boylan Catholic of Rockford, Rockford East, the host Spartans and St. Francis of Wheaton.
Qualifiers head to the Rochelle Sectional a week from Saturday, and the top team in regionals heads to the dual team sectional in Rochelle on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
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