by Mike Slodki
How do you combat a three-game losing streak at a pivotal point in the season?
How about going toe-to-toe with conference rival Glenbard South on Friday and handling a tenacious Hinckley-Big Rock squad on Saturday.
With two wins on the weekend, Kaneland improved to 11-5 and 4-3 in Western Sun Conference play.
Friday saw the Knights handle the host Raiders in Glen Ellyn by a 41-36 clip, while Kaneland also invaded Hinckley-Big Rock for a 63-49 non-conference win on Saturday evening.
Not much luck happened for the Knights or Raiders on the offensive end but KHS still led 8-6 after one and 14-12 at the half.
The Knights added to their lead and found themselves up 25-21 after the third before outscoring GS 16-15 in the final eight minutes.
Dave Dudzinski paced all scorers with 20 points, also went 8-for-9 from the foul line, accounting for all the successfull free throws on Kanelandâ€™s end.
In Little 10-country, Kaneland led 10-7 early, but a basket and free throw tied the game at 10 for H-BR with under two minutes to go in the frame. A Dudzinski basket with 33.2 seconds to go in the quarter gave KHS a 13-12 lead but a three-pointer by Brian Michaels with 20.7 remaining and a breakaway buzzerbeater gave the Royals a 17-13 lead after one.
Hinckley kept attacking the basket and led 28-25 before Dudzinski put back a Donovan Williams trey attempt with 1:53 to go to close within 28-27 and hit another shot for a one point led with 52.9 remaining. The center hit a shot from underneath the rim to go up 31-28 with 34.9 to go while Matt Spitzzeriâ€™s layup with 18.7 remaining closed out the scoring at 33-29.
Dudzinski hit two shots in a row and Spitzzeri nailed a shot for a 45-33 lead with 2:35 remaining in the third. The full-court press was on and H-BR called its final timeout, to the delight of the Kaneland players and coaching staff.
â€œWe made a good adjustment in the locker room,â€ KHS coach Brian Johnson. â€œCoach Bieritz said to think about going to full-court press. If they couldnâ€™t get Michaels, their main ball-handler the ball, they struggled a bit and our energy picked up a little bit.â€
The fourth quarter featured the Knights hitting four shots in a row to nab their biggest lead of 57-36 with 5:42 to go in the game.
Dudzinski had 24 points and Ryley Bailey had 14 points for the effort.
â€œWe knew that Michaels was their main ball-handler,â€ Bailey said. â€œWe caused some of their other players to make decisions and it benefited us.â€
The Knights travel to DeKalb on Friday, Jan. 22.
Photo: Inside presence Dave Dudzinski, shown here in action last week at Geneva, had a productive weekend in wins at Glenbard South and Hinckley-Big Rock. The Holy Cross signee had a combined 44 points over the weekend. File Photo