by Mike Slodki
On Friday night, Kaneland fans thought Mike Pritchard’s impossible shot at the end of regulation was a three-pointer.
So did the Kaneland Knights, and for that matter, so did Batavia.
The only two people who’s opinion on the matter actually counted was the referees, and they ruled Pritchard’s pump-fake trey try in the face of the Batavia defense was, in fact, a two-point basket.
The ruling allowed Batavia to exit Maple Park with a 54-53 win in the regular season finale. Footage taken by the Kaneland basketball team on video-camera showed while Pritchard landed inside the three-point arc, he took off from beyond the line.
Batavia finished at 18-7 on the regular season, while Kaneland’s final matchup of the year brought its record down to 13-12 (5-9 Western Sun Conference).
While the second season is about to begin for KHS, the sting of the regular season’s finale’s in was still raw after the conclusion of Friday night.
“It’s not right, and it’s not fair to the seniors,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. “They bust their butts for four months for this night. We’ll be ticked for a while, but we need to get ready for Wednesday against Hampshire.”
Batavia’s Ben Potter had a game-high 21 points which included five three-pointers. The Bulldogs sunk 12 long range bombs on the night, compared to only four two-point buckets. David Bryant had 16 points.
Dave Dudzinski led the Knights with 19 points, while Brody Root added 10.
Up 48-44 in the fourth quarter, Potter hit a three pointer with 3:29 to go to cut it to 48-47. Dudzinski hit a twisting layup off the glass to go up 50-47 with 3:16 to go. Potter hit another shot to cut it to 50-49 with 2:11 left. Less than a minute later, Bryant was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit the ensuing foul shots to give Batavia a 52-50 lead with 1:39 to go. It was the Bulldogs’ first advantage since 3:47 remaining in the third. Dudzinski was fouled with 13:4 seconds left on a set play, but could only sink one of two free throws, and Bryant snagged the rebound and was fouled.
After Bryant hit the two opportunities and gave the Bulldogs a 54-51 lead with 12.7 seconds to go, it set in motion the final sequence.
Kaneland led and the end of the first quarter thanks to Dudzinski’s shot off the glass with 19.9 seconds left to make it 11-10.
Down 25-23 in the second quarter, Ryan Blake nailed a three-pointer with 1:31 left and Root soon followed with a coast-to-coast drive with 56.7 to go to go up 28-25 before the break.
Kaneland’s biggest lead came after a Joe Spitzzeri trifecta with 6:39 left in the third for a 31-25 lead.
The Knights were set to tangle with Hampshire on Wednesday at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional. The second-seeded Knights last played the third-seeded (17-8) Whip-purs in a 51-44 loss on Jan. 31. KHS defeated Hampshire 51-43 on Dec. 27.
The winner faces Wheaton Academy, who beat Sycamore 66-48 on Tuesday in the regional final on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.
Story Update: The Knights suffered a 47-38 loss to Hampshire at the Burlington Central Regional Wednesday night, ending their season. They finished with a final record of 13-13.
Photo: Kaneland varsity center Christian Dillon gets a rebound in the fourth quarter of their senior night game against Batavia on Friday. The game ended in a close 54-53 Kaneland loss. Photo by John DiDonna