Photo: Thomas Williams (24) caters to his own southpaw strengths on a trip to the basket during Friday’s NIB-12 win over the visiting Morris Redskins. Photo by John DiDonna
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Beginning 1-0 in conference play doesn’t just sound better—it is better.
With every meeting in the second-year Northern Illinois Big XII conference a premium, every win over evenly-matched opponents will fit nicely in the back pocket of Kaneland boys basketball.
Such was the case on Friday evening at Kaneland High School, with the Knight crew leading wire-to-wire in a 56-46 win over the visiting Morris Redskins.
The Knights fell back to earth against former Suburban Prairie Conference and Western Sun Conference-mate Glenbard South, 42-37 on Tuesday in Maple Park.
The Knights are now 3-3, and 1-0 in conference play.
KHS was buoyed by Marcel Neil’s 21 points and Trever Heinle’s 18 points against the Redskins. The Knights also sunk five three-pointers, including three from Neil. Also helpful was the 17-of-23 effort from the free throw line.
“They’re a tough team,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We were maybe hoping to run a little bit more than tonight, but Morris did a good job of handling our press. We don’t have anybody that matches up to their size, but we fought hard.”
Neil offered up a field goal, plus two threes, and the Knights led 13-5 after one frame.
Despite going scoreless for over five minutes of action, Kaneland still managed to hold the lead, and Neil’s fifth straight bucket made the score 18-7 with 4:10 to go in the second.
A three-point play for Morris closed within 18-15 with 2:25 remaining, but a left-handed lay-in by Thomas Williams (nine points) and a foul shot by Dan Miller extended the lead before the teams entered halftime with KHS up 21-16.
Kaneland continued to hold firm and led 37-32 after three, thanks to key baskets by Heinle and Neil.
WIth Morris’ interior pressure stifling efforts to go to the basket, the Knights saw their advantage dip to 39-35 with 5:49 to go.
The home squad found a way to get to the line, however, with Heinle and Drew David making good from the charity stripe in the final frame.
Williams, whose bucket gave Kaneland a 43-37 lead with 3:48 to go, felt good about the effort that led to victory.
“It feels real good,” Williams said. “Just to know you can overcome the defense and being tough, and still score and come out with the win is good.”
Against the visiting Raiders, Heinle was the only Knight to reach double figures with 11 points.
Kaneland and Glenbard South were tied at eight apiece after one, and the Raiders had a slim 17-16 advantage at the break before Kaneland’s 15-5 run in the third had KHS ahead 31-22.
Then, Glenbard South turned it on the fourth, and turned the Knights off, outscoring Kaneland 20-6 in the fourth quarter.
Ahead for Kaneland is a Saturday, Dec. 10, meeting at the home of the Spartans in Sycamore, while Hinckley-Big Rock High School is the site of a Tuesday, Dec. 13, meeting.
For a glimpse at some of the future Knights, just turn to the Adam Wickness-coached sophomores.
This week, John Pruett’s 27 points were key in the 55-49 win over the Redskins.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Connor Fedderly’s 21 and Pruett’s 18 helped KHS
enjoy a 61-47 result vs. the GS Raiders.