by Mike Slodki
When the Knights basketball squad struggles, according to coach Dennis Hansen, they really struggle.
The same could be said when they stack wins, case in point this past week.
Kaneland saw its mark improve to 11-10 with a 4-7 record in Western Sun Conference play; this after taking care of host Yorkville on Friday in a 53-35 affair, and stumped Sycamore 68-50 at home on Saturday before hammering visiting Marengo on Tuesday 56-34.
“Our mental state was kind of bad before we started winning, but we started stepping up and executing a lot better,” Hansen said.
Against the Foxes, Dave Dudzinski had 15 points and Christian Dillon added nine. Kaneland’s victory came despite the Knights going just 13-for-27 from the free throw line.
Kaneland outscored YHS 12-7 in the first and maintained a 19-14 lead at the half. Kaneland ran roughshod on Yorkville in the third and led 32-17 at the end of the frame.
Dudzinski had a pivotal game vs. the Spartans as he poured in 28 points from the floor, while teammate Ryan Blake added 14.
KHS led 18-15 after the first quarter but trailed 29-26 at the half before turning it on the third quarter to go up 42-41. The Knights’ 26-9 fourth quarter sealed the deal.
Kaneland’s night against the visiting Indians started out with a flurry of baskets by Mike Pritchard and Dudzinski to go up 9-0 four minutes, 24 seconds into the contest.
The host offense found more paydirt with a basket from Dillon, two foul shots by Dudzinski and a three-pointer by Blake for a 16-2 lead with 1:48 remaining. The Knights led 16-6 after one quarter. Another trey by Blake increased the lead to 19-6 just 53 seconds into the next frame. Ryley Bailey’s three-point shot gave Kaneland its biggest lead of the half at 28-9 with 1:44 to go before the margin reached 30-12 at the end of the half.
Up 39-20 in the third quarter, Pritchard got a putback, Steve Colombe hit a three and Pritchard nailed the back-end of a trip to the foul line to go up 45-20 with 1:17 left in the third. KHS led 45-22 after the buzzer. The Knights went scoreless from 1:17 in the third until 3:52 in the fourth when Dudzinski hit a foul shot.
“I think we did what we had to do and played good, solid defense and just held onto it the whole game,” Hansen said on Tuesday.
While Dudzinski had a solid 15 points, he played just a little over half the game, allowing for needed rest, and passed the ball when needed after constant double-and-triple teaming.
“If they’re going to do that, I have confidence in these guys. We did what we had to do, spread the ball around and make shots,” Dudzinski said.
Eleven Knights reached the scoring column against the Indians.
The sophomores also defeated Marengo 44-37.
The Knights have their next challenge on Friday, Feb. 13, at Sycamore, and also travel to Aurora on Valentine’s Day to face Marmion Academy.