Photo:Senior John Pruett drives to the hoop with junior Ben Barnes right behind during Saturday’s boys basketball practice. Photos by Patti Wilk
Johnson’s crew aims for third NIB-12 title in four seasons
KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball may have 67 wins under coach Brian Johnson in his previous four years, but the lack of one specific win last February is what spurs them on.
A regional semifinal loss to Wheaton’s St. Francis High School at the IMSA Regional put an end to a season that saw a 16-12 mark and a second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII championship.
The ending of the last campaign meant Johnson said goodbye to two hard-working seniors, Matt Limbrunner and Dan Miller.
“Losing Dan and Matt is obviously a big loss,” Johnson said. “Matt was player of the year in our league and had a nice season. Dan was a leader who played outstanding defense.”
The loss of the two anchors is lessened somewhat with the return of backcourt powerhouse Drew David and senior company.
“Drew is a four-year starter. John (Pruett) is coming off an all-conference season, and Ty (Carlson) was solid throughout the year. We definitely have guys coming back that were solid contributors for us,” Johnson said.
The three are also well-versed in the clutch, having seen David crush dreams of DeKalb and Sycamore with late three-pointers last year, and Carlson beating Morris with a putback.
“They’ve gone through a lot as far as basketball is concerned. With them having been in football and baseball, they’ve been through a lot of varsity games and hopefully can add to their basketball experience,” Johnson said.
Junior Connor Fedderly also returns after having served time in the starting lineup, as does Cole Carlson.
“Connor had a nice year last year and a nice summer with his shot. Cole put in major minutes for us last year. We have some other guys that played a little bit last year,” Johnson said.
Johnson refers to assets like tower Tom Van Bogaert and Ben Barnes in his junior year.
Sophomore Dylan Vaca, thrown into the fire last year as a freshman, returns for more second-year minutes. Junior Steven Limbrunner makes his varsity entrance with a good pedigree, while junior Owen Korpela joins the squad as well.
Zach Douglas, Ryan David and Jake Gomes also join the Knight ranks for 2013 after JV experience.
In his fifth year, Johnson has gained more experience with juggling a lineup of different players and personalities.
“It’s nice that I know the kids really well and they know me. I have an idea with some guys, and there’s a competition for minutes. Some guys that may start may not finish games,” Johnson said.
Looking at the upcoming season, Kaneland is upping the ante on awareness and competition, which includes a return to the Plano Shootout over the holidays, and a return to the United Center court for the first time in four years against Geneva. The Knights also host the first-ever Kaneland Shootout in February.
“We’re trying to step up our competition, and we play in good competition over the summer. The goal is not to hide,” Johnson said.
For the NIB-12 landscape, nothing will be taken for granted.
“Every night is a solid matchup, we’re all pretty evenly matched across the board. Sycamore finished strong with a regional title. They have solid players,” Johnson said.
The season tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 27, with the Batavia Windmill Classic. Conference play begins at Sycamore, on Friday, Dec. 6.