Photo: Knight Zach Ringhouse provided a needed spark with a 16-point display during the 65-63 comeback win over Rochelle. Photo by John DiDonna
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—After the hysterics of Friday night, it was conceivable the Knights would have a letdown.
Instead, Kaneland basketball defeated crossover rival Geneseo in Maple Park on Saturday afternoon, 54-45, after coming back from a 19-point deficit against road opponent Rochelle on Friday and winning 65-63.
KHS now sits at 12-8 (4-2 Northern Illinois Big XII), exactly where it was a year ago after 20 contests played.
Facing Geneseo, Daniel Helm and Zach Ringhouse both paced Kaneland with a game-high 16 points. KHS also helped its cause by hitting 17-of-20 shots from the foul line. Ringhouse was eight-for-eight from the line.
The Knights went out to a 15-11 lead after one and 33-22 at the halftime. The lead remained steady at 45-34 heading into the final frame.
Lined up against NIB-12 East rival Rochelle, Helm led the team with 16 points, followed by Ringhouse with 14, Trever Heinle with 13 and Kory Harner with 10.
Rochelle’s sharpshooter Matt Rosenwinkel had a game-high 22.
The game looked early on like one with its share of points, and after Harner’s bucket with 1:09 to go in the first gave the Knights a 15-13 edge, Rochelle’s perimiter game took over.
The Hubs hit their sixth consecutive shot attempt with 30.2 ticks left to take a 19-15 lead and bring the first frame to an end.
Kaneland struggled in the second quarter, hitting only three shots from the field and saw Rochelle stretch its lead to 31-21 by the halftime buzzer.
Rochelle expanded its lead in the third quarter at 46-27 with 2:51 to go, its largest of the game. With 1:16 remaining in the third, Rochelle went up 50-33 before a basket by Harner and a shot by Ringhouse closed it to 50-38 at the end of the quarter.
That set the stage for a fourth quarter that had KHS outscore Rochelle 27-13.
Kaneland brought its clutch play in the early stages, using a Ringhouse trey, a Heinle pair of foul shots, two Helm baskets and a Chaon Denlinger basket to close within 54-49 in a space of 1:27.
Heinle connected on a bucket with 3:34 to go, closing it to 56-55 and giving the Knights faithful a reason to believe.
Rochelle got to the foul line and converted on its shots, increasing its lead to 62-57 with 1:11 remaining.
Denlinger sunk two foul shots to make it 62-59 wth 53.3 to go, while Rochelle hit the second of two shots from the line to go up 63-59 with 28.5 ticks left.
Ringhouse sunk a rainbow from long distance to make it 63-62 with 19.5 remaining.
Then, Heinle stole the ball from the Hubs and put it in to go up 64-63 with 13.5 left, taking the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
“We wanted to get a trap in the corner, and that’s what we did,” Heinle said. “ I got the steal, went up strong and put the game away. Coach told us to work on three things before the game: rebounding, taking care of the ball and defensive intensity, and in the second half we did that and pulled it out.”
But Rochelle quickly got the ball down the court for a lay-up try that missed. Helm was soon fouled and went to the line and made one of two for a 65-63 lead with 3.2 left, and the clock ran out after a scramble on the floor.
“We got a spark with Zach Ringhouse, and we were able to cut it to 11 and we got some confidence,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We played with a lot of passion and a lot of heart, and I give them a lot of credit.”
Kaneland now gears up for Saturday, Feb. 5, against Sycamore at 4:30 p.m.