by Mike Slodki
YORKVILLE—Judging from the score by quarters, you could argue Yorkville outplayed the Knights boys basketball squad on Friday night.
However, the Knights outplayed the host Foxes with a vengeance for the first eight minutes, and showed grit in the final quarter, holding on to the lead.
When the final buzzer bellowed, the Knights emerged with a 53-52 win, offsetting the damage from last month’s win by the Foxes in Maple Park.
“They want you to play fast and make you turn the ball over,” KHS coach Brian Johnson, “Early on, we were on fire and we caught them off-guard a little. They put on the pressure and we started turning the ball over.”
With the win, Kaneland improved to 16-8 with a 7-2 record in Northern Illinois Big XII play. KHS has just one regular season game to go before the playoffs arrive.
Remarkably, since three losses from Jan. 11-18, Kaneland has now won seven contests in a row.
A relatively balanced scoring column had Chaon Denlinger with 13 points (three three-pointers) and Daniel Helm with 10 points, most from close range.
A potential saving grace for the Knights was an 11-for-16 night from the foul line.
The sophomore boys continued their campaign with a 51-46 takedown of Yorkville on Friday. The team has now won 23 of 24 games and 11 of 12 NIB-12 games, which wraps up the NIB-12 title.
The varsity contest got off to a blazing start as baskets by Denlinger, Helm and Drew David helped Kaneland get out to a 25-5 lead with 1:31 remaining in the first.
Kaneland had a 25-7 lead heading into the second quarter when points were a tad harder to come by.
The only field goal by the Knights in the second frame was a basket by Trever Heinle with 3:12 left to give Kaneland a 27-17 lead. Yorkville had closed the deficit before halftime to 29-21.
With a Denlinger bucket, the Knights’ lead grew to 34-25 with 3:31 to go, but Yorkville’s basket with five seconds left in the third cut the lead to 39-35.
With under two minutes to go and the Knights clinging to a 49-46 lead, a Heinle basket increased the lead to 51-46 with 1:34 to go in regulation.
A Yorkville bucket with 59.5 ticks left closed the margin to three, and another shot closed to within 51-50 with 27.2 remaining.
Zach Ringhouse was fouled and hit two foul shots with 13.1 to go.
“Coach was telling us not to turn the ball over,” Ringhouse said. “When we did do that, he told us to calm down and stay focused. I just wanted to stay as calm as possible and hit a few free throws.”
With a 53-50 lead and time running out, Yorkville’s flurry yielded a putback with 1.1 seconds to go, but the game ended at 53-52.
“We were just able to execute down the stretch. We turned the ball over some, but that’ll happen against a team like Yorkville,” Johnson said.
The lone game for Kaneland is for Northern Illinois Big XII East supremacy, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 25, in Rochelle at 7 p.m.
Out of the highest point totals for individual quarters this season, the now red-hot Knights have put up two high marks in the last two games.
Jan. 28 (4th Q) 27 points
Feb. 15 (4th Q) 26 points
Feb. 18 (1st Q) 25 points