Category Archives: Boys Basketball

First conference crown since ‘82 highlights huge boys hoops win

by Mike Slodki
ROCHELLE—There have been plenty of things that have gone out of style since 1982, like Intellivision, Pac-Man and Valley Girl-speak.

One thing that never seems to go out of style is winning. Just ask Kaneland boys hoops.

With a trip into a vocal, home-happy environment at Rochelle High School, the Knights subdued a feisty Hubs unit 74-67 to take the Northern Illinois Big XII East Division championship on Friday night, their first conference crown since 1982.

Coach Brian Johnson was 2 years old at the time, when the Bob Pederson-led Knights went 26-6.

“For our guys to come here after winning on the road at Yorkville last week and to win on the road here; for them to handle that pressure, that’s all them. ” Johnson said .”They had toughness and got it done, I’m so proud of them.”

With the season sweep of Rochelle, Kaneland finished the regular season at 17-8, with an 8-2 mark in NIB-12 play. In 2009-10, KHS finished 16-9 in regular season play.

Chaon Denlinger had a game-high 26 points and four three-pointers, followed by 19 points from freshman Daniel Helm.

“This is helping us a lot,” Helm said. “We know we can persevere and we can battle. We had to eliminate (Alex Prusator) and (Joe Torres), and they still got their points, but we held them.”

Tyler Heinle, seeing his most crucial time of the regular season, hit three treys enroute to nine points.

Drew David’s three-pointer with 2:07 left in the first quarter gave Kaneland a 22-13 lead in a run-and-gun frame. Denlinger folllowed up with a bucket to make it 24-13 with 1:02 remaining, and Rochelle countered with a three to close within 24-16 with 42.3 to go, closing out the scoring.

Trever Heinle’s basket with 1:11 to go in the half gave Kaneland its biggest lead of the game at 41-28 before the Hubs came back with two baskets before the halftime buzzer sounded with the score 41-32.

Helm and Denlinger combined on four straight baskets in the third quarter to maintain a 49-40 lead with 4:41 remaining but Rochelle powered ahead and cut the lead to 51-50 with 2:36 to go. A Hubs foul shot with 21.6 seconds to close within 58-54.

A Heinle three-pointer with 5:21 in the fourth quarter gave KHS a 66-56 lead, but Rochelle scored nine unanswered points to close within 66-65 with 1:34 remaining.

Rochelle had a chance to take a lead with two free throw attempts but whiffed on both. After two Helm foul shots made it 68-65 with 1:05 to go, the Hubs sunk a shot to close within one with 51.0 seconds left.

Kaneland persevered with the help of free throws by Zach Ringhouse and David, increasing the final margin to seven.

Kaneland’s scheduled Sycamore Regional opponent, Aurora Central Catholic (13-13), finished its regular season with a 60-58 loss to St. Francis of Wheaton on Thursday. The winner of that contest was set to face either Rochelle or Sycamore in the final on Friday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Former Knight Dudzinski All-Rookie selection for Holy Cross Crusaders

Photo: Holy Cross’s Dave Dudzinski was chosen for the Patriot League’s All-Rookie Team this week. Peter Cooke, Holy Cross Sports Information

WORCESTER, Mass.—Holy Cross freshman forward Dave Dudzinski (Elburn, Ill.) was chosen to the All-Rookie team this week, while junior guard Devin Brown (Baltimore, Md.) and senior center Andrew Keister (Galloway, N.J.) have both been selected to the 2010-2011 All-Patriot League second team in men’s basketball, as voted by the conference’s head coaches.

Dudzinski has averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this season, while hitting 52.3 percent (46 of 88) of his field goal attempts. His top performance so far this year came at Sacred Heart, when he scored a career-high 15 points on six-of-six shooting from the field. Dudzinski also pulled down a career-high six rebounds against St. Joseph’s, and added nine points and five rebounds in the win over Lafayette, including a pair of free throws with 1:37 remaining to give Holy Cross the lead for good.

Brown has averaged a team-best 15.6 points per game this year, while hitting 36.6 percent (59 of 161) of his three-point attempts and 81.1 percent (103 of 127) of his free throws. He finished the regular season ranked fifth in the league in three-point field goals made, sixth in scoring, seventh in free throw percentage and 12th in three-point percentage. Brown has led the team in scoring 15 times this year and scored in double-figures 21 times, including 10 straight double-digit scoring games entering the postseason. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Brown has now totaled 998 points, 176 rebounds and 110 assists, while hitting 38.2 percent (135 of 353) of his three-point field goal attempts and 81.6 percent (261 of 320) of his free throws.

Keister has averaged 12.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 0.6 blocked shots per game this season, while making 50.8 percent (120 of 236) of his field goal attempts.

He was even more impressive against Patriot League opponents, averaging 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in conference action. On the season, Keister ranks first in the Patriot League in rebounding, fifth in field goal percentage, 11th in scoring and 11th in blocked shots. He has also posted a team-best 10 double-doubles on the year, including seven straight double-doubles to end the regular season. Over the course of his collegiate career, Keister has now totaled 927 points and 737 rebounds, while making 51.8 percent (369 of 713) of his field goal attempts and posting 29 double-doubles. Keister becomes only the 15th player in Patriot League history to earn all-conference honors three times, after being named to the first team in 2008-2009 and the second team in 2009-2010.

Holy Cross (8-20 overall, 7-7 Patriot League) was set to return to action on Wednesday, when it would host Lafayette in a quarterfinal round game of the Patriot League Tournament.

KHS Knights win lucky 7th in a row

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.

HIGH-OCTANE
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

Boys hoops engineer regular season sweep of Barbs, defeat Streator

KANELAND—When you hold an opponent to a grand total of zero points in a quarter, you know you’re doing something right.

A 13-0 third frame in Maple Park on Friday night meant big things—namely a victory and a regular season sweep of rival DeKalb, 46-43.

Tuesday brought a 59-51 win over crossover opponent Streator.

Coach Brian Johnson’s crew now sits at 15-8 with a 6-2 record in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

Leading the DeKalb-targeted charge was Chaon Denlinger’s 20 points and freshman Daniel Helm’s 10 points.

DeKalb’s Brian Sisler led his team with 11 points.

The Barbs took a 12-8 lead after the first eight minutes and took a 23-19 lead into halftime before the troubles started. Kaneland’s 13-0 run that lasted the duration of the third quarter gave the Knights a 32-23 advantage.

While DeKalb regained its collective footing, it wasn’t enough as the Knights held on for the three-point win.

Helm had a team-high 18 against visiting Streator, and Zach Ringhouse added 12.

Noteworthy details this week also included Kaneland learning of its postseason assignment. On Wednesday, March 2, Kaneland (No. 2) will play Aurora Central Catholic (No. 3) at Sycamore High School, with the winner dueling with Rochelle, Sycamore or IMSA on Friday, March 4, in the championship.

Rivalry Saturday tips to Kaneland boys

Photo: Kaneland’s Trever Heinle tries a junior skyhook in recent boys basketball action. File Photo

KANELAND—For the Knights, good things have come in fours lately.

The Kaneland boys improved to 13-8 (5-2 Northern Illinois Big XII) with a 48-38 win over the visiting Sycamore Spartans on Friday in Maple Park.

For Kaneland, the last setback occurred on Jan. 18 against Hampshire.

Unique to the clash of rivals was the fact that only four Knights entered the scoring column, as well as only four Spartans.

Leading the way for KHS was Chaon Denlinger with 16 points, followed by Trever Heinle’s 13.

The Knights went seven-of-nine from foul line territory.

Kaneland led 13-10 after one quarter and 23-16 at the half, before taking a 37-28 lead at the end of three frames.

The sophomores improved to 20-1 with a 50-43 win over the Spartans.

On tap for KHS is hosting DeKalb on Friday, Feb. 11.

KHS says never say die against Rochelle, beats Geneseo

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.

Kaneland boys hoops cinch 45-38 comeback win at Ottawa HS

KANELAND—History shows us that dealing with pirates was never smooth sailing.

No matter, the Kaneland boys basketball team was able to leave the Northern Illinois Big XII West stop on Saturday night with their head held high.

A prolific fourth quarter allowed KHS to beat Ottawa by a 45-38 clip, which increased their record to 10-8 and 3-2 in NIB-12 play.

Balanced scoring was paced by Daniel Helm and Chaon Denlinger with nine each.

Kaneland’s foul shooting produced a 13-for-18 night, while Ottawa’s production was only 17-for-34. Kaneland’s Zach Ringhouse came through with an eight-for-eight line at the charity stripe.

The Knights took a 13-6 lead after one quarter. Ottawa climbed back to tie the contest at 19-all at halftime, and took a 26-21 lead by the end of the third , before Kaneland’s 24-12 final frame led to a seven-point win.

In sophomore action, the Knights improved to 17-1 on the year with a 46-45 comeback win on the Pirates. Thomas Williams had 14 for KHS.

The Knights’ next challenge is hosting Rochelle High School on Friday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.

Boys hoops now 9-8 on year

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland is finding that a tour through the Northern Illinois Big 12 might not be as filled with good fortune as the Knights would like.

A Friday night meeting with the visiting Morris Redskins in Maple Park had KHS fall in an overtime clash, 46-39.

On Tuesday, the Knights were felled on Big Timber Road as Hampshire used a gigantic third quarter to best Kaneland, 61-44.

Kaneland is now 9-8, and 3-2 in the NIB-12. The Knights have now lost four out of their last five.

Chaon Denlinger and Drew David were lead scorers for KHS with nine each.

Kaneland’s time at the foul line consisted of a 5-for-8 night, compared to a whopping 14-for-28 night for Morris.

The Knights led 11-4 after one quarter, and went cold with just two points in the second frame, trailing 16-13.

Morris still led 30-26 after three quarters, and saw Kaneland tie it up before regulation ended at 33 apiece. A 13-6 overtime period meant a mark in the “L” column for Kaneland.

Facing the Whip-purs, KHS was led by Trever Heinle’s 15 and Denlinger’s 12, which came on four threes.

Hampshire led 10-7 after one and 21-20 going into halftime.The Whip-purs went on a 24-8 run for the third quarter and led 45-28 going into the fourth.

Kaneland’s next challenge lies in the form of the NIB-12 West’s Ottawa Pirates along Route 23 on Saturday, Jan. 22.

Longtime friend

Bob Pederson was honored Saturday by the Kaneland boys basketball program as a “Friend of the program.” Pederson was the boys basketball coach at KHS from 1978-86, amassing 116 wins to 97 losses. His 1981-82 team went 26-6, and won conference, regional, sectional and super-sectional championships, and was the last KHS boys basketball team to go downstate. Pederson was also the KHS
athletic director from 1983-93.
Photo by Mary Herra

Nine-win Knights take BC, taken by 2 others


Photo: Tyler Callaghan goes up for two points during Friday’s 56-39 loss to the Yorkville Foxes. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Saturday looked a lot better than Friday for the Knights boys basketball roster.

Coach Brian Johnson’s crew took a 47-39 win against non-conference rival Burlington Central on Saturday, but fell to a physical Yorkville squad on Friday by a 56-39 clip.

Additionally, the first-ever meeting between KHS and Metea Valley High School of Aurora ended in a 78-58 loss for the Knights on Tuesday night.

The Knights now sit at 9-6 on the season, with a 3-1 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

The Knights’ lone double-figures scorer against BC was team anchor Chaon Denlinger, who had 13 points. Zach Ringhouse had eight. Kaneland was just 9-for-19 from the foul line.

Kaneland led 13-7 on the visiting Rockets after the first eight minutes of action and increased the margin to 23-13 after the first half. BC closed to within 31-25 before the Knights held firm in the fourth.

In the loss against Yorkville against the invading Fox force, Trever Heinle had 10 points to lead the Knights.

Kaneland was cold indoors to match the landscape of falling snow outdoors, missing its first six shot attempts. With Yorkville up 13-6, Kory Harner connected on two straight shots to pull the Knights within 13-10 by the end of the first.

Down 19-13 with 5:53 to go in the second quarter, Daniel Helm hit a foul shot, as did Heinle to close within four. Matt Spitzzeri hit a layup, and Heinle converted on a three-point play to take the lead for the first time at 20-19 with 3:21 to go. Helm’s reverse layup with 2:44 to go completed a 9-0 run. Yorkville finished with a flurry and sunk three straight baskets to go into the half up 26-22.

In the third quarter, it remained close when Kyle Dhuse of Yorkville hit a three to tie the score at 29-29, but Denlinger hit a trey from the baseline to go up 32-29. That would be the last inkling of a lead for Kaneland for the remainder of the game. Yorkville went on a 27-7 run to finish the game, which included 12-for-12 from the foul line in a late stretch to cinch the result.

“They’re a very strong team,” Johnson said concerning the Foxes. “They made a lot of shots, a lot of free throws. When they make more than you attempt, they’ll probably win the game.”

Against MV, the Knights were helped by Denlinger’s 20 points and Heinle’s 13.

Despite a 20-10 lead after the first eight minutes, the Knights’ advantage shrunk of 33-21 at halftime before Metea Valley used a prolific third quarter to go up 53-44 after three.

The Knights look forward to a NIB-12 matchup with visiting Morris on Friday, Jan. 14.

LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
When the Knights need to hit on a trifecta, who have they been going to?
Through Tuesday, Jan. 11—
C. Denlinger (28 three-point baskets)
Z. Ringhouse (14)
D. Helm (6)

KHS boys split final 2 games in Plano

KANELAND—It wasn’t the same ending to the tournament, and wasn’t even the ideal ending to the fifth-place game for Kaneland boys hoops.

While the Knights vanquished the Hall Red Devils on Dec. 29, coach Brian Johnson’s crew fell to Sandwich due to a late rally on Thursday and were slotted in the sixth-place slot at the 48th annual Plano Christmas Classic.

KHS (8-4, 3-0 NIB-12) didn’t end up with a repeat championship, as was the case in 2009 after a win in the final over Rockford Christian.

Rockford Christian defeated Newark in the final, 48-44.

Despite the middle-of-the-pack finish, Knights Chaon Denlinger and Daniel Helm were named to the All-Tournament team.

Photo: Trever Heinle is finding himself with major minutes for a Kaneland Knights unit that finished sixth at the Plano Christmas Classic. File Photo

Against the Red Devils, Helm scored 18 and Trever Heinle scored 17. Kaneland was 8-for-12 from the foul line. Kaneland outscored Spring Valley’s school 20-15 after one and led 33-25 at the half. The Knights increased their lead to 49-33 after three quarters.

Against the Interstate Eight Indians, Denlinger was the lone double-figured player with 17. Sandwich led 16-7 after one, but Kaneland rallied to close within 23-20. With the score at 34-31 after three, Kaneland’s Denlinger’s trey with under 11 ticks left tied the score at 40. Indian Justin Wegner’s basket on the next possession gave Sandwich the final margin of victory.

The Knights’ fortunes take them back home on Friday, Jan. 7, where they will host conference rival Yorkville, itself a third-place school in Plano.

SUPER SOPH BOYS
• The Kaneland High School sophomore
boys have achieved a record of 12-0.
• Most recently, the young Knights
captured the JV side of the Plano
Christmas Classic,
defeating Yorkville, 50-41.
• Matt Limbrunner had 15 points,
and Thomas Williams had 13.

Kaneland splits first 2 contests in Plano

by Mike Slodki
PLANO—All right, so the gift you receive this year won’t be as large as last year’s.

If you’re Kaneland boys basketball, there is still ample time to end the holiday festivities on a strong note.

On Tuesday night at the 48th annual Plano Christmas Classic off of Route 34, third-seeded Kaneland fell to sixth-seeded Princeton by a final of 52-51 in second-round action, which solidified that KHS won’t be repeating as Classic champions.

The Knights opened up tourney play with a convincing 66-33 win over Little Ten stalwart Hinckley-Big Rock—the second time Kaneland has vanquished H-BR this season.

KHS now sits at 7-3 after 10 contests, with a 3-0 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

The Knights were set to suit up against Hall of Spring Valley, Ill., in a third-round matchup on Wednesday evening.

Against the Tigers, the Knights were led by Daniel Helm’s 22 points and Chaon Denlinger’s 16. Kaneland was perfect from the foul line, but only had four attempts.

An 18-7 lead over Princeton slipped to a 26-20 margin at the break. Kaneland still maintained a slim 39-35 lead before some fourth-quarter heroics went the Tigers’ way.

Princeton was set to face No. 2 Newark on Wednesday in its quest for its first Plano title since 1990.

In Monday’s win over the Royals, Kaneland had 10 members in the scoring column, paced by Denlinger’s 15 and Matt Spitzzeri’s 10. Denlinger also supplied three three-pointers.

“It’s nice to see other guys do well, too,” Denlinger said. “We kept putting it on so they couldn’t close the gap very much, it’s nice to see.”

A three by Denlinger, coupled with a basket by Tyler Callaghan, and two more baskets by Denlinger propelled Kaneland out to an early 11-0 lead with 1:57 to go in the first quarter. Helm’s basket with 52.1 to go gave KHS a 13-3 lead after one.

Holding onto a 12-point lead in the second quarter, the Knights saw a basket from Spitzzeri, an in-the-paint bucket from Drew David and two foul shots from Spittzeri to go into halftime up 27-9.

The third quarter was a torrid one for KHS, as they made nine straight shots in a period of 5:17, building up their lead to 49-18 by the end of the third.

A Kory Harner bucket with 5:40 to go gave KHS its biggest lead at 58-24.

“We just talked about taking care of the ball,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We did a nice job of getting down the floor. We’ve been toying with a full-court press and see if that works out. We want to become stronger as a team this tournament.”

Kaneland will face either Forreston or Sandwich on Thursday, Dec. 30, at 5:30 p.m for fifth place, or at 2:30 p.m. for seventh place.

Knights use last-second heroics for win

Daniel Helm tries to score any way he can during Friday’s dramatic 49-47 win at DeKalb. The freshman contributed in a big way with 19 points in NIB-12 play. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
DEKALB—Kaneland boys basketball had a sense of the moment on Friday night in Barb-ville.

It’s the last moment that counted the most.

A basket by Chaon Denlinger just before the buzzer sounded took KHS to a 49-47 win over DeKalb on Friday.

After blowing an 11-point lead originally amassed in the second quarter, Kaneland emerged with a small bit of revenge against the squad that ousted them from Class 3A regionals last Feb.

“DeKalb’s tough, this is their home floor,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Their record’s very decieving, they’re not a one-win team in my eyes. They’re a good team and they fight.”

Kaneland is now 6-2, while DeKalb fell to 1-7. The Knights improved to 3-0.

In the fourth quarter, with the Barbs having taken a 44-43 lead with 5:20 left, Kaneland recovered from its first deficit since the first quarter with a Matt Spitzzeri basket down low to take a 45-44 lead with 4:06 left.

Daniel Helm’s bucket with 3:37 to go increased the lead to 47-44.

After three trey attempts by DHS, Brian Sisler made a basket with 52.2 remaining to close within 47-46.

DeKalb’s Andre Harris went up for a drive to the basket but was intentionallty fouled on a fast break with 26.8 seconds remaining. Harris made the first of two, and Sisler’s attempted layup with 18 seconds left missed. Helm brought it up past halfcourt, where coach Brian Johnson called time out and set up the final exchange.

The passing game that had provided so many opportunities for Kaneland during the game worked as Denlinger inbounded the ball to Drew David, who passed to Helm. Helm passed to David, who found a back-door opening down low to Denlinger for a lay-in before the clock buzzed 0.0.

“We knew they were going to overplay it,” Denlinger said. “We knew they were going to try to get a steal. We don’t run it very often, and if we could just get it to work… I thought I missed it.”

Helm led the way with a game-high 19 points, followed by sharp-shooting Zach Ringhouse with 13 points.

“We started running more of our sets,” Helm said. “That opened up a lot of stuff. The team felt better because there were so many more openings.”

Sisler paced DeKalb with 17 points.

The Knights went up 9-5 after a quarter of play, and increased the lead to 27-19 at the half. The Barbs closed the margin to 41-38 after three.

Meanwhile, the sophomores bested their DHS counterparts by a 45-33 final.

The contests marked the last regular season contests in Chuck Dayton Gymnasium. DeKalb is moving to a new campus near Dresser and Annie Glidden roads.

48th Annual
Plano Christmas Classic

1st round matchups on Monday, Dec. 27
Morris vs. Yorkville, 9 a.m.
Forreston vs. Mendota, 10:30 a.m.
Sandwich vs. Genoa-Kingston, 12:30 p.m.
Rockford Christian vs. Coal City, 2 p.m.
Kaneland vs. Hinckley-Big Rock, 3:30 p.m.
Princeton vs. Seneca, 5:30 p.m.
Plano vs. Hall, 7 p.m.
Newark vs. Somonauk, 8:30 p.m.

Knights block Spartans, Royals

Photo: Drew David falls
back after making a shot
during a 23-8 third quarter at Saturday’s
65-33 win at Sycamore High School. The
freshman finished with four points.
Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Going 5-for-7 in any sport has to be considered a good start.

After a loss nine days ago to Glenbard South, it seems like Kaneland boys hoops has every intention of extending the good start as long as possible.

The Knights put Hinckley-Big Rock down for the count on Tuesday, 59-44, and routed Sycamore on Friday along Spartan Trail by a final of 65-33.

Kaneland is now 2-0 in the first go-around of the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference, as well.

Against the visiting Royals, Daniel Helm scored a game-high 15, and Tyler Callaghan added 13.

KHS led 12-9 after one and 23-19 at the half. The Knights started to pull away in the third and worked on a 43-30 lead going into the fourth quarter, where they secured matters.

The sophomores pulled out a 52-21 win to improve to 7-0.

Against the host Spartans, the Knights were buoyed by Chaon Denlinger’s 20 points, which were highlighted by six three-pointers. Helm added 13 points and Trever Heinle added 10.

Kaneland turned a 13-3 first quarter lead into a 26-18 advantage going into the locker room at the half. The Knights opened the floodgates in the third and led 49-26 going into the fourth quarter.

The Knights go on to DeKalb for a meeting with the Barbs on Friday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.

Boys beat Morris, lose to GS

KANELAND—Once close rivals, Kaneland (3-2, 1-0 NIB-12) and Glenbard South were separated by more than conference bylaws on Tuesday evening in Glen Ellyn.

Having trouble with a physical Raiders squad, the Knights fell, 62-46.

That came on the heels of KHS adding to its win category with a pivotal conference game in Redskin-ville, 54-49.

Against GS, KHS had an early 5-4 lead before the Raiders went to the foul line four times and went ahead 17-7 before KHS coach Brian Johnson called a time-out. Glenbard South had a 21-10 lead after the first frame.

In the second quarter, despite long-range jumpers by Trevor Heinle and Matt Cowans, Kaneland made just four of 11 foul shots. Chaon Denlinger’s basket at the buzzer gave the Knights a fighting chance at the halftime break, behind 32-22.

Drew David cut the deficit to 32-24 just one minute into the third quarter, but Glenbard South expanded its lead to 47-30 with 2:32 remaining. The Knights trailed at the end of three, 49-33.

With 4:07 left in the fourth quarter, the Raiders took their biggest lead at 58-35.

The battle between the Knights and Raiders yielded much time at the foul line for both teams, with Kaneland going 10-for-21 and GS hitting 18-of-31 from the charity stripe.

Coach Johnson thought his crew ran into a formidable opponent on Tuesday night.

“They were real physical and we didn’t match their physicality, and they were really intense,” Johnson said. “Offensively, they were able do whatever they wanted to do and we didn’t get stops, and we need to get stops.”

Daniel Helm paved the way with a 21-point evening on Saturday, including 9-for-10 from the line. Drew David added 13 points and Chaon Denlinger hit on 10 points. Key to the effort was a 16-for-20 night from the foul line.

The Redskins had a 13-9 lead after the first eight minutes, but KHS rallied to take a 27-26 lead at the half.

After increasing the margin to 40-37 at the end of the third, Kaneland remained firm in the final eight minutes for the win.

Kaneland travels to Sycamore for a Saturday, Dec. 11 contest.

KHS ends strong at Strombom; begins 2-1

Photo: Zach Ringhouse dialed long-distance on three occasions during the 2010 Consolation Championship of the Leland G. Strombom Tournament at Sycamore High School on Saturday afternoon. The 68-44 win over the Spartans was buoyed by Ringhouse’s 11 points. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland’s boys basketball squad was running and gunning so often on Saturday afternoon in Sycamore, you’d swear they swore off Thanksgiving dinner entirely.

Rather, the two wins the Knights finished the Strombom Tourney with resulted in Hampshire and Sycamore feeling sick to their stomachs.

With a 52-42 win over Hampshire and a 68-44 number on the Spartans, the Knights won the consolation bracket for the usual Strombom Tourney stop in DeKalb County.

Huntley beat Dundee-Crown in a 51-47 overtime win for the tournament title.

Kaneland is now 2-1 in the early throes of 2010-11 basketball.

Against the Whip-purs, Hampshire stormed out to a 20-10 lead before Kaneland outpaced HHS 16-3 in the second frame to take a 26-23 lead. The Knights took control of the contest with a 40-33 win after three quarters.

Daniel Helm had a game-high 16 points, and Trever Heinle was close behind with 14.

Against the Spartans, the Knights resembled something akin to an NBA Western Conference squad, beating Sycamore to the ball on both sides of the glass and dialing long-distance on key shots.

All but one Knight got into the scoring column, led by All-Tournament selection Chaon Denlinger’s 11 and Zach Ringhouse’s 11.

Denlinger was glad to see the effort to have Sycamore commit mistakes paid off.

“(Coach Brian Johnson) told us to shoot with confidence, and we figured we could go in and rebound against them and get the boards. It was good to see the scoring spread out more,” Denlinger said.

Already up by 15 after the first quarter, KHS hit all six of its foul shots and got shots from Kory Harner, Ringhouse and Matt Spitzzeri to see the lead balloon to 36-18 at halftime.

Despite Sycamore missing just one shot from the field in the third frame, trifectas from Tyler Heinle and Denlinger helped the Knights and saw the lead balloon to 27 when Spitzzeri hit a bucket with 4:15 left to lead 50-23.

The Knights hit six-of-nine foul shots to maintain the lead in the fourth and left with a consolation championship.

“It lets me know how hard the guys are willing to work, and it lets me know we have a lot of things to work on,” Johnson said. “The football guys are in now, and we have to get them used to what we’re doing. They’re still really raw and have only had a couple practices.”

Kaneland begins its first-ever season of Northern Illinois Big XII conference play with a trip to Morris on Friday, Dec. 3.

Winter sports preview: KHS ready to begin A.D. (after Dave) in 2010-11

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Not only do the Knights of Kaneland boys basketball want to deal with the ghosts of last year’s regional heartbreaker against the DeKalb Barbs, they also have to deal with the six-foot-10 gap in the middle of their lineup that finished 17-10 in 2010.

Dave Dudzinski takes his impressive skills to Holy Cross this fall, still leaving coach Brian Johnson a talented roster.

“It’s something that’s going to be really different for the boys,” the second-year coach said on Tuesday. “We relied heavily on Dave. He was our best player and one of the best players in the state of Illinois. The guys are going to have to have an adjustment period where they deal with trying to figure themselves out.”

Seniors include forwards Chaon Denlinger, Tyler Callaghan and Matt Spitzzeri and guards Matt Cowans, Andrew O’Herron and Zach Ringhouse.

Juniors are forwards Sean Carter and Bryan VanBogaert and guards Trever Heinle, Tyler Heinle and Jacob Razo. Sophomores are Kory Harner and Dan Miller at guard, along with Kyle Pollastrini at forward.

Three frosh are along for the ride in the form of guards Drew David and Thomas Williams and forward Daniel Helm.

“We’re going to lean on Chaon and push him to be a complete player both offensively and defensively as a 2 or 3, and he’s got a deadly shot,” Johnson said.

The team is eagerly awaiting a full-strength roster after football season concludes, and to write a new chapter after the disappointing end.

“I know the guys here from last year definitely had a bad taste in their mouths, but want to get back and have that feeling of playing in a game like that. I think about it a lot and what I could have done differently,” Johnson said about the 50-47 regional title loss.

As usual, Kaneland begins things at the Strombom Tournament in Sycamore on Tuesday, Nov. 23, against Chicago’s Hope Academy.

KHS hoopsters dish out spaghetti

The Kaneland boys basketball program host their second annual spaghetti dinner for the Kaneland community on Thursday, Nov. 18. The dinner will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. in the KHS cafeteria. The price per person in $5. RSVP to Brian Johnson at brian.johnson@kaneland.org, or at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347.

Kaneland seeks golfers, sponsors

Kaneland—The Kaneland boys basketball program is seeking golfers and sponsors for its golf outing on June 12 at Bliss Creek Golf Course.

The fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts.

Prizes, raffles and a silent auction will follow the event. The golf outing is a scramble format and will cost $400 for a foursome; cost is $35 for dinner only.

For information, call (630) 365-5100, ext. 347 or email brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

KHS basketball golf outing info

Foursomes and sponsorships are going fast, but there is still time to join the Kaneland boys basketball program in a day of fun at the first ever golf outing on Saturday, June 12, held at Bliss Creek Gold Course in Sugar Grove.

The golf outing has been developed to bring together KHS athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses. The fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts.

A variety of prizes will be available in the raffle thanks to support from local business and donations from alumni and KHS supporters.

There will also be a silent auction with prizes available. The golf outing is scramble format, $400 for a foursome and $35 if you just wish to attend the dinner.

For play, sponsorship or donation, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100 ext. 347 or at brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

Dudzinski’s basketball crusade stays on track

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—College-hunting for Kaneland’s Dave Dudzinski is finished.

This, after almost having to stop and start again.

Already having committed to Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. in November 2009, Dudzinski was weighing his options after the Crusaders fired coach Sean Kearney after one season and a 9-22 record.

After meeting with recent hire Milan Brown, Holy Cross’ third coach in three years, on Monday at his home, Dudzinski likes what he was presented.

“I’m going to stay at Holy Cross,” Dudzinski said. “He really cares and it felt good to come all the way out here. He’s invested in the program and invested in me.”

Dudzinski is looking forward to Brown’s coaching tenure.

“He’s a fiery coach and an emotional guy, and we talked about what we wanted for Holy Cross,” Dudzinski said.

Brown, 39, was hired from Mount St. Mary’s, which won 16 games in 2009-10 and went to the NCAA Tournament in 2008.

Now for Dudzinski: getting entrenched in Patriot League basketball.

“I’m going out there from June 7-28 and it’s like preseason practice and activities. We’ll hit the gym and start training,” Dudzinski said.

Dudzinski weighing options after Holy Cross shakeup

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Senior Dave Dudzinski’s next step after Kaneland might not be set in stone after all.

After signing a letter of intent with Holy Cross in Massachusetts back in November, Dudzinski was set to join coach Sean Kearney in 2010-11 for Patriot League play.

However, Kearney was fired after a 9-22 season for the Crusaders, putting Dudzinski from “let’s go” to “wait and see”.

“Right now, I’m still waiting for them to hire a coach,” Dudzinski said. “At this point, I’m still technically signed.”

Dudzinski will wait until Holy Cross brings a new coach aboard to make a final decision on the fall.

If Dudzinski decides to leave Holy Cross, they would need to release him from his national letter of intent in order to play for another program. If Holy Cross refused, he would have to sit out a year.

Dudzinski originally chose Holy Cross over Loyola of Chicago and Austin Peay.

The appeal of a future Holy Cross head coach is simple for the senior.

“Basically, I’m looking for someone to push me harder than I push myself and someone who believes in the same style of basketball that I’m willing to play,” Dudzinski said.

Dudzinski averaged over 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Knights in 2009-10.

file photo

Dudzinski has postseason fun, earns State honors

The fun continues for Knights boys basketball standout Dave Dudziunski.

This past weekend in Peoria, the Holy Cross-signee participated in the IHSA Class 3A Slam Dunk Contest and finiushed third overall. With 26 dunkers at Carver Arena, Dudzinski earned a 40-score on Thursday, which propelled him into the final four as the tallest entry left.

Dudzinski managed a 29 in the final four grouping. Crete-Monee junior James Crockett won the 3A contest with a 35.

Dudzinski was also nominated to the second-team All-State 3A/4A by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association on Monday.

KHS boys basketball golf outing news

The Kaneland High School boys basketball program is having its first golf outing on Saturday, June 12, at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove, to bring athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses together.

The fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Thanks to the support of local businesses and donations, a variety of prizes will be available in the raffle. There is also scheduled to be a silent auction with prizes. The golf outing will be scramble and cost $400 for a foursome and $35 for the dinner.

Those interested in playing, sponsorship or making a donation, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100 ext. 347 or brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

KHS journey ends

Photo: Dave Dudzinski (file photo).

Knights hoopsters eliminated by DeKalb in 50-47 heartbreaker
by Mike Slodki
Pieces were in place for a storybook ending during Friday night’s 3A Kaneland Regional Championship.

Down 49-42 with 39.1 seconds remaining against top-seeded DeKalb, Kaneland fired off five quick point. They were down by two and had the ball with 9.4 seconds left.

However, the storybook ending’s final chapter was cut off and the 2009-10 saga ended with a 50-47 loss in Maple Park.

Kaneland is still looking for its first regional title since 1999. They allowed themselves the opportunity for championship glory with a 48-45 win over Hampshire on March 3.

Dave Dudzinski, playing his final game in a Knights uniform, finished with 23 points. Counterpart Jordan Threloff had 18 points, and Barbs guard Dylan Donnelly had 17.

Going into the fourth quarter down 39-36, Kaneland found itself in desperation mode with 3:52 to go and down 45-38 after a Donnelly trey.

A Chaon Denlinger baseline jumper closed to within 45-40, but two foul shots by DeKalb with 46.8 to go made it 47-40. After two more freebies by Threloff put the Knights in the seven-point hole, Steve Colombe nailed a three and then later got a layup after a DeKalb turnover to close within 49-47 with 16.2 left.

With DeKalb’s Pat Rourke then missing the front end of a one-and-one, Dudzinski grabbed the rebound and a timeout was called.

Colombe inbounded the ball to Ryley Bailey who passed to Dudzinski near the basket, but the official whistled the Holy Cross-signee on a traveling violation, drawing the ire of players and Kaneland fans alike.

Rourke then made one free throw with .8 seconds to go to cement the victory.

“Dudzinski got the ball and was in a position to score and unfortunately the call was made,” first-year coach Brian Johnson said.

Johnson’s plan had Dudzinski for the final shot or kicking it out to Denlinger for a game-winning three try.

Kaneland led 17-16 after the first eight minutes and made five straight shots to go up 15-6 before DeKalb closed the gap.

Toward the end of the first half, Dudzinski hit the hoop for two baskets and gave KHS a 29-28 lead going into the locker room.

Kaneland went cold in the third quarter, going only 2-for-8 from the field. Down 39-33, Bailey launched a deep three-pointer that beat the buzzer and brought the deficit to 39-36.

Johnson reflected on the character of the players to draw themselves in a position to win, rather than the muddled outcome.

“I came in as a first-year coach and challenged them to grow as a team and grow as young men; they gave me all they had,” Johnson said.

The Knights saw their season end at 17-10, up from 13-13 the previous year.

Kaneland earned its revenge from last year’s regional opening loss to the Whip-purs a year ago with 22 points from Dudzinski. Shyler Ralphs of Hampshire and teammate Justin Beiber led their side with 12 each.

The Knights made seven foul shots—all by Dudzinski who was perfect from the line on the night.

In the first frame, Hampshire rained down three three-pointers to take a 9-6 lead, but with a Bailey basket down low, the lead was slimmed to 9-8 with 4:21 to go.

After Hampshire made it 11-8, Dudzinski sank a three with 42.3 seconds left to tie the game and then dunked with 5 ticks left for Kaneland to go up 13-11 after one.

Hampshire made five out of six shot attempts and added a foul shot to go up 25-22 with 1:21 left in the second quarter.

Williams sank a three to tie the score at 25 with 1:14 to go, and Bailey found Dudzinski on a lay-in underneath with 36.9 to go to go up 27-25.

However, the Knights soon fouled Bieber, and he went to the line to make three shots with 3.4 seconds left. Hampshire went into the locker room up 28-27.

Kaneland came out in the third quarter on a tear, going up 35-28 with 4:52 remaining, thanks to baskets from Bailey, Denlinger and Dudzinski. When Hampshire cut it to three, Colombe hit a jumper to go up 37-32 with 1:06 to go.

When Kaneland matched its biggest lead in the fourth quarter at 39-32 with 7:32 to go, Hampshire got its second wind and cut the lead to 41-40 with 3:47 to go.

Dudzinski came through with a three-point play to make it 44-40 with 1:58 remaining.

After three foul shots by the Whip-purs made it 44-43, Dudzinski found his way for another basket with 1:08 to go, giving KHS a 46-43 lead.

After a Hampshire basket with 51.9 to go cut the deficit to one, Dudzinski was later fouled on an inbound pass and sank two foul shots with 9.8 to give the Knights a 48-45 lead.

The Whip-purs had one last chance, and Brock Ralps attempted a three-pointer while double-teamed that clanked off the front of the rim.

With the conclusion of the season, the Knights say goodbye to seniors Bailey, Danilo Bruno, Colombe, Sean Paulick, Williams and Dudzinski.

Knights beat bulldogs

Photo: Ryley Bailey (10) tries weaving around Batavia’s defense in the first quarter of the Knights’ 51-45 win on Friday, the first win in three years in that rivalry.
Photo by Ben Draper

KHS boys hoops finishes regular season 16-9
by Mike Slodki
BATAVIA—Three years of frustration went a long way to being dealt with on Friday.

Playing four quarters of exceptional ball on Friday night under the bright lights and tradition of Batavia High School, the Knights never trailed and ended the regular season on a high note with a 51-45 win over the Bulldogs.

The final Western Sun Conference game in both schools’ history marked Kaneland’s first win over Batavia since a 59-58 thriller over the Bulldogs in Maple Park in February 2007.

Some noteworthy markers of frustration for KHS in the recent rivalry was a 42-40 loss at Kaneland on Jan. 8 that came down to a final three-point try.

On Feb. 27, 2009, Mike Pritchard’s difficult shot was ruled a two-pointer instead of a game-tying three in a 54-53 loss.

Players like Steve Colombe think that this win could not have come at a better juncture in the season.

“It’s definitely a great accomplishment to beat Batavia,” Colombe said. “Coach Johnson preached resilience today, and we needed the execution down the stretch.”

Also provided was a little relief that the same situation from last year’s regular season finale didn’t happen this season.

“Yeah, at least it didn’t come down to that tonight and we put it away early,” Colombe said.
Kaneland finished the regular season at 16-9 (7-7 WSC).

Batavia finished 17-8 in regular season play.

Coach Brian Johnson stressed the team find an edge to not relinquish the lead to a historically tenacious Bulldogs squad.

“It’s such a great program with a great coach, and I hope Kaneland can get there at some point,” Johnson said. “We talked before the game about having resilience and being able to handle the ups and downs.”

Dave Dudzinski, guarded by two-to-three defenders the entire game, finished with a game-high 26 points.

Jesse Coffey led the Bulldogs with 11.

Both teams did fairly well on the foul shot end, with KHS going 15-for-23 and Batavia making 15-of-22.

Traditionally a prolific perimeter team, Batavia only converted two three-pointers.

Two shots by Ryley Bailey, a basket by Colombe and a jumper by Dudzinski gave the Knights a quick 8-0 lead 4 minutes, 24 seconds into the contest.

While Batavia came back with five points before the end of the frame, Dudzinski managed an emphatic rejection to keep the score 8-5.

In the second, with KHS scoring already scoring five unanswered, Dudzinski was manhandled by two Batavia defenders and still managed to sink a shot and convert a three-point play to go up 16-7 with 5:05 to go.

Dudzinski later hit a basket to stop a two-minute scoring drought and go up 18-11. After Coffey and Ricky Clopton hit shots to close within 18-17 with 18.5 to go in the half, Tyler Callaghan’s putback with 8.2 ticks remaining gave KHS a 20-17 halftime lead going into the locker room.

The third quarter featured the Knights going on a 13-5 run. A baseline jumper by Colombe, another three-point play by Dudzinski and two free throws by the Holy Cross-signee gave Kaneland a 27-19 lead with 3:48 remaining.

After Bailey made a shot, Dudzinski hit two more free throws and another lay-in for the biggest lead of the night at 33-21 with 1:30 remaining in the quarter. BHS made one foul shot 15 seconds later and made it 33-22 at the end of the third.

After Chaon Denlinger, Dudzinski hit one free throw and Donovan Williams converted at the top of the key to give Kaneland a 38-24 lead with 6:26 remaining.

Kaneland would then muscle its way to the foul line and make 7-of-11 opportunities, and with Williams’ next jumper, saw its lead increase to 50-34 with 1:58 to go, the biggest lead of the night.

Even with Batavia scoring the last eight points of the night, Kaneland proved victorious.

Batavia, the 12th seed in the Neuqua Valley Sectional, defeated (21) Glenbard West on Monday out at Waubonsie Valley by a 67-60 score. The Bulldogs were set to take on (5) Oswego East on Wednesday, while the Knights, hosts of their Class 3A regional, were set to play (3) Hampshire, after the Whip-purs’ 54-48 comeback win on Monday over (6) Rochelle.

Meanwhile, the (4) Sycamore Spartans outlasted the fifth-seed Burlington Central Rockets by a final of 66-61 on Monday and will face top-seeded DeKalb on Thursday.

United They Fall

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland High School boys basketball got yet another look at the bright lights of the United Center on Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately, they also got the wrong look at the result against rival Geneva.

Despite leading the game with under five minutes left, Geneva closed the contest with a 14-4 run en-route to handing KHS a 49-40 setback.

The game marked the last Kaneland-Geneva boys contest for the foreseeable future with both teams leaving the expiring Western Sun conference.

The last time Kaneland met Geneva at the home of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and the boys was back on Dec. 31, 2008, which resulted in a 58-39 loss.

The Knights also found time to defeat host Marengo on Feb. 17 by a 45-25 clip.

Kaneland now sits at 15-9 (6-7 Western Sun Conference), with one game remaining in the regular season before Class 3A Regional action begins.

Knight Dave Dudzinski (55) goes sky-high on the United Center floor during Saturday’s 49-40 loss to Geneva. The senior had 20 points. Photo by Ben Draper
Knights center Dave Dudzinski had little problem adjusting to the NBA-regulation court and bright lights at the beginning. The Holy Cross-bound senior sank two three-pointers and scored the first eight KHS points to lead Geneva 8-1 three minutes, one second into the affair.

“Dave still got his (20) points and nothing really changed on the floor,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “He’ll be playing on the big stage in the future.”

“We got used to it pretty good,” Dudzinski said. “The flow of the game didn’t really affect us being on the court. It was exciting for us, but our main goal is to get to NIU (Class 3 Super Sectional).

Geneva hit two trifectas to close within 8-7, but Kaneland’s Matt Spitzzeri hit a shot to make it 10-7 with 1:05 to go. Geneva hit a coast-to-coast layup at the buzzer to close within 10-9.

With Kaneland employing two Donovan Williams buckets sandwiched around a Dudzinski field goal to go up 19-14 with 4:09 left, the Vikings used four consecutive foul shots to close the game to one with 2:41 remaining in the half.

Steve Colombe (21) shoots a baseline jumper during Saturday afternoon’s 49-40 setback to Geneva in Chicago. Photo by Ben Draper
The two squads missed six combined shots to go into the locker rooms at the same score.

Geneva got hot right on the heels of Kaneland converting a foul shot and three consecutive shots for a 26-24 Knights lead with 4:39 left in the third quarter.

Geneva then scored the next eight points to take a 32-26 lead with 1:59 to go.

The Knights came back furiously led by a two-handed dunk by Dudzinski, an underneath basket by Steve Colombe and a drive by Taylor Andrews that tied matters at 32.

In the fourth, Williams got a feed from Ryley Bailey on a layup with 6:15 remaining for a 36-35 lead, which would mark the Knights’ last of the afternoon.

The Vikings scored eight unanswered to take a 43-36 lead with 3:39 remaining.

Dudzinski hit a basket and two free throws to close within 43-40 with 2:50 remaining, but Geneva’s aggressive offense led to five trips to the charity stripe that added the last six points.

“We hit highs and lows in the second half,” Johnson said. “Geneva forced us to play a little quicker.”

In the win over Marengo, Chaon Denlinger had a game-high 15 points, while Colombe had 11.

Kaneland led 16-3 after one and maintained a 24-12 lead going into the locker room.

The Knights opened the floodgates by routes 23 and 20 with a 13-4 third quarter to go up 37-16.

Kaneland has rival Batavia at the home of the Bulldogs for the final time as WSC rivals on Friday, Feb. 26.

On Wednesday, March 3, the Knights face the winner of the Hampshire-Rochelle matchup in the Kaneland Regional’s semifinal at 7:30 p.m.

Knights sink Sycamore on Williams basket, 48-46

by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—Donovan Williams had plenty to say about the finish between Kaneland and Sycamore on Friday night off of Route 23.

He let his shot do the talking.

Putting up only six points, the senior had the two most important points of the game, sinking a 12-foot jumper with five seconds left to break a tie-game and propel the Knights to a 48-46 win.

“We had a set play and I was supposed to come off that screen,” Williams said. “It was supposed to be an alley-oop but they left me open and I just took the shot.”

Williams handled most of the point duties due to Ryley Bailey being shelved due to leg injury.

“Ryley usually handles point guard, but I feel comfortable bringing it up whenever I can,” Williams said.

The season-series sweep gives KHS a 14-8 record with a 6-6 record in the final Western Sun Conference season. Three regular season games are left.

Center Dave Dudzinski led the Knights with 13 points, as did Steve Colombe. Sycamore’s Sam Ford had a game-high 21.

In the fourth, Chaon Denlinger nailed a shot 13 seconds into the fourth to close within 40-37. Sycamore missed on five straight shot attempts until Taylor Andrews of Kaneland put back a Dudzinski miss and was fouled.

The ensuing foul shot tied the game at 40 with 4:28 to go.

“Taylor didn’t play the whole game until then,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Taylor seems to find holes a lot and he got the ball, went up strong and makes a huge free throw to tie the game. That definitely gave us momentum.”

Dudzinski converted an offensive board with 3:33 to go to put Kaneland ahead 42-40, and Kory Harner’s three-pointer with 2:48 left gave KHS a 45-40 lead. Sycamore cut it to three with 1:59 to go and Ford’s two free throws with 54.0 seconds left cut it to one point.

Dudzinski made the first of two foul attempts with 43.5 ticks left to make it 46-44 until Ford tied it with a jumper with 25.9 to set up the final possession that led to Williams’ winning shot.

After calling timeout with 4.3 seconds left, Sycamore’s passes were too errant to make anything happen, and the clock ran out.

The Knights take on Geneva at the United Center in Chicago for the first time since Dec. 31, 2008, on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m.