Category Archives: Boys Basketball

Kaneland holds court in summertime

Photo: Drew David moves the ball upcourt against a Belleville West defender during Tuesday’s action at the 27th Annual Morris Boys Shootout. Photo by Mike Slodki

Boys hoops
competes in
Morris Shootout

by Mike Slodki
MORRIS—Twenty-minute halves, a running clock, and kids wearing something akin to rec-league warmups.

But the Kaneland boys basketball trip to the 27th annual Morris Shootout, occurring Tuesday and Wednesday, was anything but rec.

With the Knights in Pool H against the likes of Belleville West, Oswego and Pekin high schools, the Kaneland group was taking this 32-team affair as a chance to show skills.

Even with a 12-point loss to the downstate Maroons in the books to open matters, coach Brian Johnson takes each summer day to see what he has.

“We’re trying to figure out what we have, and we made mistakes, but that stuff usually irons itself out by the time the season comes around,” Johnson said.

The Knight boys have participated in leagues at Geneva and DeKalb high schools, to go along with camps and lifting during the morning hours.

It makes for a different style of basketball once tip-off happens.

“They are competing out there and it’s a little more freelance. There’s a lot of kids out there that play a lot of basketball. We’re a team with kids that play three sports, and it’s a little more freelance when it comes to the summer. We’re not really a freelance team, and I think that will show when the season rolls around.”

Kaneland’s new faces for summer ball are Dylan Nauert, Brock Robertson, Bailey Harvell, Dylan Vaca, Cole Carlson, Tom VanBogaert and Shane Jorgensen.

Returning are Clay Denlinger, Dan Miller, Drew David, Thomas Williams, Tyler Carlson and John Pruett, making for a core to build around once summer progresses to the late fall.

“They’re going to do a nice job-—all the guys coming back. They’re poised to have really nice seasons, and we need to see where everyone kind of fits into play,” Johnson said.

The Knights head off to the Geneva League Tournament on Thursday, June 28.

Closest to the Pin


KHS wrestling coach Monty Jahns tees off during the Kaneland Boys Basketball Program 3rd Annual Golf Outing, which was held on Saturday at Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove. The golf outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses. The fundraiser raised money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Photo by Patti Wilk

Hoops rules committee says no to shot clock

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Participation and fan interest in high school basketball remain strong throughout the nation, and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Basketball Rules Committee voted to retain one aspect of the sport that makes it unique from other levels of play.

At its April 16-18 meeting in Indianapolis, the committee considered a proposal to add a shot clock to the high school rules but agreed that the sport played by about one million boys and girls in approximately 18,000 high schools is functioning well without it.

Although a shot clock has been employed at the college level for many years, results of the questionnaire that is sent to coaches, officials and state association administrators across the country did not indicate a strong desire to use the clock at the high school level.

“In addition to the fact that there is some concern about the costs associated with the use of a shot clock, the committee also expressed a belief that the game is typically played with an up-tempo style even without a shot clock,” said Kent Summers, director of performing arts and sports at the NFHS. “In addition, the committee believes that coaches should have the option of a slower-paced game if they believe it makes their team more competitive in specific situations.

The committee did approve one rule change, which subsequently was approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Rule 2-12 requires the official scorer to wear a black-and-white vertically striped garment. Previously, this was a recommendation for schools.

“The players, coaches and officials need to be able to easily identify the official scorer, and making this a requirement should assist in that regard,” Summers said.

Third annual golf outing a charm for Knight boys hoops

KANELAND—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 third annual golf outing on Saturday, June 9, held at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

The golf outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses.

This 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 will also be a silent auction with exciting prizes. The golf outing will be a scramble and costs $400 for a foursome, or $35 if you’d just like to attend the dinner.

If you are interested in the event, would like to be a sponsor, or make a donation, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347, or brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

KHS Boys track visits Ottawa for a second

KANELAND—Anytime and anywhere, Kaneland boys track serves to be a threat against area competition.

With depth and talent serving the Knights well, they continue to be near the top on days of action.

Such was the case during Saturday afternoon’s Ottawa ABC Invite in which the Knights put together a 221-point performance, compared to 236.5 from champ Metamora. Bolingbrook was third with 202 points. Lincoln-Way East took fourth with 146 points. Host Ottawa was 11th of 12 with 55 points.

The boys also solved Rochelle in Maple Park by a 104-51 final.

Separated to A, B and C flights in Ottawa, the Knights saw their share of hefty first-and-second place finishes.

Dylan Kuipers took second in his pole vault group with a mark of 12 feet. Eric Dillion, at 5-10, finished second in his high jump flight, and Tanner Andrews lept 18-06.25 in the long jump for a second place.

Firsts came the way of Seth Weiss in the 110m high hurdles with a time of 16.91, and Brandon Cottier at 12.11 ticks in the 100m dash.

Andrews came back with a second in the 300m low hurdles with a mark of 46.84 seconds, and Brock Robertsen took a second in his 300m low hurdles group at 42.68. Teammate Dylan Nauert’s 40.51 time was good for king of 300m hurdles “A” competitors.

Against the Hubs, multiple firsts were garnered by Cottier in the 100m dash (11.3) and 200m dash (23.3). Additionally, Marshall Farthing took firsts in the triple jump (39-7.5) and high jump (5-10). Nate Dyer went ballistic in the shot put (47-03) and discus (145-3.5).

Coming next for boys track is a familiar event: the Peterson Prep on Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m.

Third annual golf outing a charm for Knight boys hoops

KANELAND—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 third annual golf outing on Saturday, June 9, held at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

The golf outing has been developed to bring together the Kaneland community, athletes, parents, alumni and community businesses.

This 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 will also be a silent auction with exciting prizes. The golf outing will be a scramble and costs $400 for a foursome, or $35 if you’d just like to attend the dinner.

If you are interested in playing the event, would like to be a sponsor, or make a donation, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347, or brian.johnson@ kaneland.org.

KHS hoops squads can brandish honors

Photo: Ashley Prost (right), Thomas Williams (left) and Marcel Neil (middle) took home first-team All-Conference honors as named by the Northern Illinois Big XII on Thursday. Both girls and boys outfits for Kaneland advanced to their sectionals in 2011-12. File Photos

Two first-team All NIB-12 picks for boys, one for girls
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s as easy as a lay-up to deduce that both KHS basketball programs would get postseason honors to recognize exceptional play and postseason runs.

The boys basketball team, which saw its season conclude with a 12-point loss nine days ago to State-bound Rockford East, saw two of its assets named to the Northern Illinois Big XII All-Conference team.

Unanimously selected to the first team were senior Marcel Neil and sophomore Thomas Williams, both pivotal to the sectional run made by the Knights.

“Marcel was the ultimate team leader and player,” boys coach Brian Johnson said. “He was very unselfish on the court. Throughout the year, Thomas continued to improve and really came into his own the last month of the season.”

Meanwhile, KHS senior Ashley Prost was a unanimous selection to the All-NIB-12 girls roster.

For the boys side, other unanimous selections were Rochelle’s Grant Prusator and David Newton, Morris’ Jake Olson, and Dekalb’s Andre Harris and East Division MVP Brian Sisler.

Yorkville’s Josh Williams was also a first-teamer.

Kaneland’s Tyler Heinle led the pack for the honorable mention as a senior.

Other members included Sycamore’s Devin Mottet and Brandon Spartz, Yorkville’s Stephen Jones and Brandon Holmes, DeKalb’s Danny Matya and Kyle Berg, Rochelle’s Matt Rosenwinkel and Morris’ Danny Friend.

Streator’s JJ Cravata was named West MVP.

Lady Knight Prost was the lone selection on the first team for Kaneland, while Rachel Torres, Taylor White and Courtney Patrick of DeKalb also earned first-team honors as did Yorkville’s Jordann Dhuse and Alicyn Hester. Sycamore’s Lake Kwaza and Rochelle’s Michelle Dobbs filled out the elite selections.

Dobbs and Torres were named co-MVP’s of the East Division.

Sharpshooter Allyson O’Herron and Emma Bradford’s contribution as juniors yielded an honorable mention tag in the NIB-12 East Division scheme.

“All three players were a pleasure to coach as people, first and foremost,” KHS girls coach Ernie Colombe said. “In terms of their skills, Ashley brought a lot of toughness to our team. She has a lot of ways she can beat her defenders. Allyson O’Herron is the best long range shooter we have had during my time at KHS. Emma Bradford was kind of our Scottie Pippen,she was asked to do a little bit of everything for us.”

Other honorable mentions were Lady Redskins Julie Jurasits and Laney Torkelson, Sycamore’s Bailey Gilbert, Rochelle’s Christina Williams and DeKalb’s Courtney Williams.

In the West Division, Geneseo’s Devan Griffin took MVP honors.

Knights bounced: E-Rabs’ fourth spells doom for KHS in sectional

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There exists no direct or obvious correlation for higher drama the further you go in the Class 3A boys basketball playoffs.

That seemed to be ever true for coach Brian Johnson’s Knight crew, but the excitement failed to tip their way by the final buzzer on Tuesday night in Sycamore.

Victimized by a furious fourth quarter in the Sycamore Sectional semifinal by Rockford East High School, and more specifically, Steven McNease, KHS fell 66-54 to end its season at 17-11 (5-5 Northern Illinois Big XII Conference).

Kaneland has now ended all three seasons with Johnson at the helm with 17 wins.

The E-Rabs now head to the sectional final on Friday, March 9.

It was on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum from Friday night’s 65-61 overtime comeback win in the Rochelle Regional final, which secured Kaneland’s first regional plaque since 1999.

Against Rockford East, Marcel Neil had a team-high 14 points, while Thomas Williams had 13, but it was McNease’s 26 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, that spelled the end for the Knights.

Going into the final eight minutes tied at 35, and even holding a slim 45-44 lead with four minutes, 52 seconds to go, the Knights were outscored 31-19 in the last frame. The E-Rabs went on a 22-9 run to conclude the game.

“Our boys made a match and (Rockford East) had to fight to get the win,” Johnson said. “We won a regional, and that’s something they can be proud of.”

Down 26-15 with 2:47 to go in the first half, Kaneland used baskets from Drew David, Tyler Heinle and Williams to close within 26-23 at halftime.

The third quarter was closer, and a Neil putback made it 27-26 Kaneland 55 ticks into the half. With time winding down, a Matt Limbrunner close-range bucket with 1:10 to go gave KHS a 35-33 edge before Rockford East tied it with 57 seconds remaining.

Both teams exhibited high percentages in the fourth and traded shot for shot. Dan Miller’s two foul shots with 4:10 to go tied it at 47, but McNease caught fire with a trifecta to give the E-Rabs the lead for good with 4:02 left.

The lead increased to 56-49 with 2:05 to go and could get no closer with Rockford East playing the turnovers and steals to their advantage.

In a happier circumstance against the host Hubs in Ogle County, the Knights were paced by Neil with 21 and Williams with 19.

KHS also went 29-for-36 from the foul line, while Rochelle went 13-for-16.

Down 33-20 at halftime in a raucous setting, Kaneland composed itself and closed within 42-33 at the end of three.

Down by as many as 10 in the fourth, Kaneland found itself down 57-49 with 2:17.

All the Knights did from then on was put in the last eight points of regulation to force overtime.

A basket by Neil and followed by his three-point play with 1:29 to go closed it to 57-55, while Williams’ free throws with 44.7 to go tied the score at 57 to force another frame.

KHS took control with an inside move by Neil 90 seconds into OT, and then went up by as much as six with foul shots by David, Williams and Neil.

“We had to dig deep,” Neil said. “In that fourth quarter, we knew it was going to take leadership. We stepped up and hit big shots.”

The Knights say goodbye to Neil, Tyler Heinle, Trever Heinle and Bryan Van Bogaert.

Boys BB shows playoff hoop skills in win over Spartans

Photo: KHS head coach Brian Johnson tries to spur a comeback in the fourth period of Kaneland’s close match against Rochelle on Friday. Rochelle escaped with a 59-57 NIB-12 win. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—This has already turned out to be a better postseason than the last for KHS boys hoops.

Exorcising some demons of last year’s season-ending regional opener loss to Aurora Central Catholic on March 2, 2011, top-seed Kaneland worked their offense and came weathered Sycamore runs for a solid 55-45 win.

Sycamore (9-20) had outlasted Burlington Central in the opening game of the Rochelle Regional.

Kaneland is set to play two-seed Rochelle on Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. after the Hubs edged Hampshire, 59-57.

The Knights, now 16-10, have a chance to make good on a regional title after losing to DeKalb two years ago in Maple Park.

The task at hand on Tuesday was more difficult than listed on paper, with the Spartans on a positive trajectory and having gotten the better of Kaneland in the second regular-season meeting.

“It’s a big win against a conference opponent, and they beat us earlier in the year,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “This is going to be a tough game no matter what.”

The victory marked a nice change of pace for the Knights after sustaining two losses in a row—the first time that has happened since Jan. 18, 2011.

Thomas Williams and Marcel Neil had 15 points apiece, and Trever Heinle had 13 points. It was all the better to combat Sycamore’s Devin Mottet, who scored the Spartans’ first 10 points of the evening and finished with 20.

Down 8-4 early, Heinle had a putback, Williams made two foul shots, and with 4.6 seconds to go, Dan Miller sunk a shot to go up 10-8.

Williams’ basket with 1:38 to go in the half made it 22-16 before a Spartan three just before the buzzer cut the margin to three at the half.

The offense started to click for KHS midway through the quarter on a Drew David three for a 31-21 lead with 4:21 to go. Tyler Heinle’s trey with 4.6 to go made it 36-27 by the buzzer.

The lead ballooned to 44-31 with 4:18 to go, and the free throws did the rest of the damage.

Tyler Heinle and Neil came up with pivotal three-point plays, as well.

“We knew coming into the game they’d been playing a lot better,” David said. “We knew we had to compete from the beginning.”

In the regular season finale, the Knights’ comeback fell short against the Hubs, 59-57—a reversal of fortune from the regular season finale a year ago that resulted in a Northern Illinois Big XII conference title.

The Knights were paced by Williams’ 15 points, Tyler Heinle’s 13 and Neil’s 12.

Yorkville gets the best of Knight boys

Photo: Drew David makes a mad scramble for the ball during a 62-51 setback against Yorkville. The Foxes executed a regular season sweep of KHS. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—After a long drive to Streator led to victory earlier last week, Kaneland was looking to ride the victory bus against Yorkville right in its own backyard.

As it was, the Fox roundballers put Kaneland in a rut on Friday.

With Kaneland struggling on the offensive end for an important portion of the game, KHS fell 62-51 to Yorkville.

The regular season sweep by Yorkville over the host Knights sunk the Kaneland record to 15-9 with a 5-4 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference action.

Kaneland has gone 6-4 in its previous 10 battles this season, and has not lost two in a row at any point through 24 games.

Thomas Williams produced a game-high 20 points, while Marcel Neil added 10 of his own.

The Knights were in decent standing after the first quarter with a 13-all tie, but the points came at a high premium in the next two frames.

Yorkville went into the locker room up 30-18, and found itself ahead 44-26 after the third quarter

The Knight offense found another gear with 25 points in the fourth, but the onslaught was too late.

The sophomores came away with a 53-51 overtime win over Yorkville, as John Pruett had 16 points in the win.

The freshmen lost to Morris, 35-26 in the NIB-12 tournament.

Just one more regular season game remains for the Knights—a home battle against Rochelle on Friday, Feb. 24.

Kaneland, the number-one seed in the Class 3A Rochelle Regional, faces either Burlington Central or Sycamore on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.

Knight hoops splits vs. Nazareth, DeKalb

Photo: Thomas Williams gets fouled in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 65-55 win at DeKalb on Friday. Williams led all scorers with 21 points. Photo by John DiDonna

Neil contributes 19 in comeback win vs. Streator
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sometimes the losses that befell a team can reveal positive qualities.

Despite the Knights falling behind by as much as 15 points at the end of the first quarter, Kaneland charged back against Nazareth Academy on Saturday afternoon and showed resolve before losing 54-49.

That setback came off the heels of a season sweep-inducing win in DeKalb on Friday night, 64-55.

Kaneland also took it to host Streator on Tuesday by a final of 53-41.

The Knights are now 15-8 with a 5-3 record in Northern Illinois Big XII conference tussles.

The Wheaton Academy Shootout affair in West Chicago had Kaneland outscore Nazareth in the final three quarters, but had trouble at times with inside threat Tyler Jackson, who scored 16 points in the post.

Marcel Neil had a game-high 17 points, followed by Matt Limbrunner’s 13 and Thomas Williams’ 10.

Down 22-7 after the first eight minutes, the Knights gradually adapted to the athletic adversary and made five shots in a row, cutting it down to 35-30 with 4:18 to go in the third quarter, thanks to a Limbrunner basket.

Drew David’s basket with 1:52 to go in the third closed the deficit to 37-35.

Nazareth Academy hit five of seven shots, but Kaneland’s Limbrunner converted an offensive putback to close to within 45-44 with 3:35 remaining.

Nazareth hit a three to make it 48-44. Later, Neil’s offensive putback with 3:01 to go made it 48-46, which would be as close as Kaneland would get for the rest of the contest.

Coach Brian Johnson saw a team that was still recovering from a hard-fought win the previous night, and did its best with a versatile lineup from LaGrange Park.

“That seven-footer is a tough player,” Johnson said. “He really intimidated our guys early, but as the game went on, they decided to take it to the bucket more and Marcel and Limbrunner really stayed strong.”

Taking on the Barbs for the first time in their Dresser Road digs, a 21-point effort from Williams and 10 apiece from Neil and Trever Heinle did the trick.

The Knights took a 21-18 lead after one but saw the lead flip to a 31-30 DeKalb edge at the half.

Kaneland’s prolific output in the third gave the visitors a 54-48 lead before holding firm in the fourth quarter.

DeKalb fell victim to a 22-for-30 night from Kaneland on the foul line.

Taking on the Streator Bulldogs of the West Division, Kaneland was buoyed by Neil’s 19 points, a game-high. The former West Aurora product was the only Knight in double figures. Kaneland went 17-for-31 from the foul line.

KHS was up 9-8 after one but fell behind 22-19 at the half. The Knights climbed back within 35-34 before dominating the fourth.

KHS is slated to battle the visiting Yorkville Foxes in the penultimate regular season battle on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m.

Knight boys take pitfall vs. Sycamore

Photo: Drew David drives with determination against Sycamore defenders. Kaneland lost at home against Sycamore 51-42. Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—There shall be no sweep of the Spartans in 2012.

Dealing with a double-digit lead at halftime, Kaneland fell victim to playing catch-up ball and found itself on the wrong end of a 51-42 result against the visiting Spartans on Saturday afternoon.

The lone game of the week had Kaneland drop to 13-7 on the season, with a 4-3 record in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.

The game was in stark contrast to the 70-42 win on Dec. 10, 2011, in Sycamore.

Marcel Neil supplied a game-high 14 points, despite being on the losing end.

KHS was also stung by a 6-for-14 shooting night at the foul line, compared to 16-for-23 by Sycamore.

Sycamore went on top early, 14-7, before expanding the lead by the halftime buzzer to 24-14.

The margin remained steadfast at 34-24 by the end of the third, before Kaneland’s offense came alive in the fourth, but it only served to bring the deficit to nine.

The sophomores lost their battle with Sycamore by a 52-42 clip. Tyler Carlson had 15 points.

A full week greets the Knights varsity contingent with a trip to DeKalb on Friday, Feb. 10, a jaunt to the Wheaton Academy Shootout on Saturday, Feb. 11, and a drive to Streator on Tuesday, Feb. 14, for some NIB-12 hoops.

Boys conquer home floors of Rochelle, Geneseo


Photo: Marcel Neil takes the route less travelled during Friday’s 60-56 comeback win in the land of the Hubs. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Last year’s Northern Illinois Big XII Conference East division champions are playing at quite the competitive level.

That piece of aggravating news is not exactly, what future opponents wished to hear, and it’s what foes Rochelle and Geneseo experienced first-hand this weekend.

With a 60-56 comeback win in Rochelle on Friday, followed by a two-hour trip west on Interstate 88 and a 55-46 win in Geneseo, the Knights currently sit at 13-6 (4-2 NIB-12). Kaneland is now in the midst of a three-game win streak, and has won seven of its last 10 contests.

The past two years at this time, the Knights have been 11-8.

The last two contests between the Knights and Hubs featured an energized battle for conference supremacy in Ogle County in February 2011, and a 16-point comeback win on the Knights floor the month prior.

This time, it was Drew David leading the way for Kaneland against the Hubs with 17 points, followed by Marcel Neil with 13, Thomas Williams with 12 and Dan Miller with 10.

Rochelle went on top early with an 18-15 edge after one quarter, and increased the lead to 32-27 at halftime, before staking out a 43-37 lead after three.

With a 23-13 in the fourth, KHS emerged victorious.

The Knights were also helped by the foul line advantage, going 14-for-17 from the charity stripe. Rochelle was just 1-for-3.

At the home of the Maple Leafs, Kaneland once again found balanced scoring in the form of Tyler Heinle’s 13, Matt Limbrunner’s 10 and David’s 10.

Kaneland also benefited from five three-pointers—three from Heinle and two from David.

KHS went out to a 15-12 lead, and stifled the Maple Leafs on the way to a 27-19 lead at the break.

In the third, Kaneland extended its lead to 42-27 before Geneseo closed the gap somewhat.

“We are lucky to have a really balanced scoring attack,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Not a single player on the team feels as if they need to ‘get theirs’ when it comes to scoring. Our players are very unselfish and truly put the team first. They have a knack of getting the ball to the hot hand and to the right person during those late-game situations.”

Underclass action this week featured Kaneland sophomores beating Geneseo 57-34 and Rochelle 73-53.

Kaneland freshman fell to Morris 39-26 in the “A” tussle and 38-34 in the “B” game.

The next varsity task is Sycamore coming to town on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Boys stifle Pirate attack in Saturday win

Tyler Heinle (32) (above) goes up high for a shot in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 59-40 home win against Ottawa on Saturday. Ready for a rebound are Thomas Williams (24) and Dan Miller (22). Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—KHS boys hoops posted a win on Saturday evening—a nice change from a hard loss the week prior to Morris.

With balanced scoring and home court advantage, the Knights took care of Northern Illinois Big XII West Division opponent Ottawa by a final of 59-40. The positive result raises Kaneland’s mark to 11-6 (3-2 NIB-12).

With Marcel Neil’s game-high 12 points and Tyler Heinle’s 10, Kaneland achieved its second-straight win over the Pirates, this after a 45-38 comeback win on Ottawa’s floor a year ago.

Kaneland led 11-7 after one and 25-22 at the halftime break. The margin increased to 42-33 and put the cinch on for the fourth quarter as the lead increased.

The Adam Wickness-coached sophomores also handled Ottawa with a 57-41 win, with Tyler Carlson supplying 18 points.

The sophomores are now 12-4.

In freshman action, the Knights took on Aurora Central Catholic on Thursday with the “A” side winning 34-30, and the “B” team falling 45-36.

Knight varsity hardcourt time continues on Friday, Jan. 28, in Rochelle—the site of last year’s conference clinching win.

Boys hoops can’t find third win vs. Morris

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s tough to take three in a row against any opponent—much less in a competitive and tight Northern Illinois Big XII conference, and much less the Morris Redskins, who enjoy a stark homecourt advantage.

While Knights boys hoops blazed a comeback trail from a double-digit margin, too many possessions ended in turnovers and Morris took 46 trips to the foul line in a 67-58 setback.

The Knights fell to 10-6 with a 3-2 record in NIB-12 play.

Both teams were quite familiar with the charity stripe on Friday, with Morris converting 26-of-46 opportunities, and Kaneland making 21-of-28.

Morris’ Danny Friend scored 23 points to lead the home crew effort, while Kaneland was paced by the two-pronged 13-point output from Thomas Williams and Marcel Neil.

KHS coach Brian Johnson felt a flat start made things tough for his Knights.

“We needed to play with a greater energy level, and we needed to play defense with our feet instead of our hands,” Johnson said. “Tonight, Morris hit some nice shots and had a lot of and-1 putbacks, and when you have open shots, the shooter will make them.”

Making a point to spread the floor, Morris went out to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter before a basket by Neil with 29.5 seconds left closed the margin to 17-9 by the end of the first frame.

Three consecutive successful shots and a free throw gave Morris an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but the Knights used a three-point play from Williams and two free throws from Tyler Heinle to close to within 28-25 with 1:27 to go, but two more foul shots from Friend made the halftime margin 30-25.

Heinle made a couple of buckets, and John Pruett converted a shot to close within 43-42 with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter before Morris increased the lead to 45-42 with eight minutes to play.

Two foul shots by Neil gave KHS a brief 46-45 lead with 7:07 to go. Three free throws sunk by Pruett and Williams sent the score to 50 each with 6:02 to play, but a Morris basket with 4:54 to go gave the Redskins a brief lead. Two Dan Miller free throws would tie the score at 52 with 4:26 to go, but Morris went on a tear, with a 12-4 run that ended with Kaneland’s last basket, a Miller shot with 49.1 to close within 64-58 before the final Morris points.

The varsity Knights host the Ottawa Pirates on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Kaneland rebounds from loss in Yorkville with win at Burlington

Photo: Matt Limbrunner (42) put up 10 points in the tough loss to Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Ben Draper

KANELAND—For now, the scales of the Kaneland-Burlington Central boys basketball rivalry tipped toward Kaneland.

KHS took care of the host Rockets on Saturday evening by a final of 65-46, serving as a nice contrast from the 56-51 loss to conference foe Yorkville on Friday evening.

The Knights now sit at 10-5 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Facing the Rockets, the Knights were treated to 18 points from Marcel Neil, Drew David (15 points) and 12 from Matt Limbrunner.

Also helping the cause was a stellar 14-of-15 night from the foul line.

Despite being down 11-10 after one, Kaneland rallied to take a 30-25 lead at the halftime break.

KHS was ahead in the matter by a 44-34 margin before outgunning the Rockets 21-12 in the fourth quarter.

The Foxes sprinted out to a 25-7 lead after one quarter on Friday, but saw KHS compress the deficit to 37-28. Kaneland trailed 50-41 going into the final quarter.

The Knights were paced by 14 points from Tyler Heinle and 10 from Limbrunner and Thomas Williams.

In earlier action, the sophomores took care of their Yorkville rivals by a 43-41 score. The freshman “A” squad lost 39-28 to the Foxes, while the “B” team lost 45-29.

The Knights try to power their way through the season’s second half with a trip to Morris on Friday, Jan. 13.

The Knights have already taken two previous meetings with the Redskins, including two weeks ago at the Plano Christmas Classic.

KHS finishes 3rd at Plano Christmas Classic

Photo: Marcel Neil (23) holds his own block party in the initial Plano Christmas Classic matchup against Morris last week, with teammate Thomas Williams (24) close by. For his efforts in the four games, Neil was named to the All-Tournament team for the third-place Knights. File Photo

PLANO, Ill.—If you want to improve yourself as the year ends to give yourself hope in the new year, Kaneland boys’ basketball had the right idea.

The Knights improved on last year’s sixth-place finish at the Plano Christmas Classic by finishing in third place, including a win over last year’s Classic champ.

When the final buzzer sounded on 2011 play, the Knights went 3-1 in the tourney. After a Dec. 27 win over Morris, the Knights beat Streator 53-47 on Dec. 28, lost to Yorkille 61-50, and edged 2010 champ Rockford Christian 45-41, with a late rally to cinch up a record of 9-4 (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Against conference crossover rival Streator, the Knights saw 16 points from Drew David, 12 from Marcel Neil and 11 from Tyler Heinle in the win. Additionally, the Knights were also beneficiaries of 31 trips to the line, of which the KHS crew had 21 conversions.

KHS had a 17-14 lead after one quarter and led 30-20 at the half. Streator closed to within 41-36 at the end of three before the Knights held firm.

Against the Foxes, Neil’s 14 points were tops, along with Thomas Williams’ 11 points.

Yorkville led 14-13 after one, but KHS rallied for a 27-25 halftime lead. The Foxes then took charge with a third quarter that ended with KHS down 42-36 before the final frame.

In the finale against the Royal Lions, the Knights were paced by Dan Miller’s 13 points and Williams’ 10.

KHS led 11-10 before falling behind 23-18 at the half. The Knights still trailed 33-29 after three before a 16-8 run closed the game in Kaneland’s favor.

With the holiday tournaments out of the way, the Knights prepare for Yorkville once again, in Kendall County on Friday, Jan. 6.

Top finishes at the Plano Christmas Classic
Championship:
Belvidere 61,
Yorkville 51

Third-place:
Kaneland 45,
Rockford Christian 41

Fifth-place:
Aurora Ch. 75,
Ottawa 45

Seventh-place:
Streator 59,
H-BR 55

Re-gifting: Kaneland manages win over Morris in Plano tourney

Photo: Tyler Heinle (32) contemplates his next move for the third-seeded Knights during Monday’s 50-44 win over the Morris Redskins at the Plano Christmas Classic. Heinle scored 12 points against the Redskins. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A team always likes to make a statement in its opening contest. Preferably, it’d be a positive statement.

At Kaneland High School’s boys basketball opener of the 49th annual Plano Christmas Classic, the Knights not only made a positive statement, but also earned their second straight victory over rival Morris on Tuesday by a 50-44 margin.

Kaneland, the third-seed, was due to play the Streator Bulldogs on Wednesday after Streator beat Burlington Central.

KHS was paced by Marcel Neil’s 13 points and Tyler Heinle’s 12.

The perimeter game was kind to Kaneland, with the first-half featuring a reliance on the bombs. The Knights had seven three-pointers on the day.

In the first quarter, Kaneland fell behind 13-12, but saw trifectas from Thomas Williams, Neil, Dan Miller and Heinle in the frame.

Yet another three by Williams gave KHS a 21-19 advantage with 2:34 left in the half.

After a foul shot by Neil and an ensuing basket, Kaneland led 24-19 with 47.1 left before Morris converted a three-point play to make it 24-22.

Kaneland saw its lead grow to as much as nine points in the third, thanks to a pair of foul shots by Heinle with 1:56 left. Drew David’s foul shot made it 36-30 before the buzzer sounded.

Morris got to within 38-36 with 4:35 to go, but a Matt Limbrunner baseline jumper with 4:13 remaining got the margin back to four. A David three and Limbrunner basket got the margin back to 45-39 with 1:38 to go. Heinle made five foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.

“Down the long run, this will make us better,” Heinle said. “They’re on video, we have their plays and know what their guards and big men do.”

KHS coach Brian Johnson was pleased at how the Knights recovered through some first-half troubles.

“I thought we made nice adjustments in the second half, and Limbrunner had some nice shots. He’s a good shooter and allowed us to open up the game a little bit,” Johnson said.

Kaneland’s goal of winning its second Plano Christmas Classic in three years is still intact, with the tournament ending on Friday, Dec. 30. Out of the 24 teams, nine are new entries: Aurora Christian, Belvidere, Burlington Central, Dixon, Indian Creek, Lisle, Indian Creek, Ottawa, Streator and Wilmington.

Knights take care of conference business

Photo: It’s not football season, but Drew David (11) makes a dive for a loose ball in the first quarter during Friday night’s 58-46 conference win over rival DeKalb. The win propelled the Knights to 6-3. Photo by Patti Wilk

Neil helps KHS boys defend turf vs. DeKalb
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With DeKalb coming in to Maple Park on Friday evening, Kaneland boys basketball would need players with a sense of the big stage.

That designation happened to belong to Marcel Neil on Friday, which segued to a winning effort, and also means encouraging things for Kaneland’s fortunes entering 2012.

With 28 points, Kaneland’s Neil helped Kaneland to a 58-46 win and to a 6-3 record (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Neil’s big night was a result of his smooth transition from the West Aurora program.

“It’s awesome, I love it here,” Neil said. “Everybody’s friendly and it was so easy to get into the flow of things.”

With DeKalb coming in, Neil found it was easy to do what he was best at.

“I was getting a lot of open shots, backdoor cuts and ball screens, and it was a lot easier because of my teammates,” Neil said.

The Knights burst out to a 24-12 lead on DeKalb (2-6) after one quarter of action, and saw the lead hold firm at 34-19 for the locker room trip.

DeKalb’s game solidified as they hit six of eight shot attempts, and seven of 10 in the third quarter.

Neil hit two baskets, including one down low, and Tyler Heinle jacked a three-pointer, but DeKalb closed the deficit to 41-34 before the end of the third frame.

With four consecutive successful shots, the Barbs tightened the deficit to 46-42 with 3:42 remaining. KHS rallied by getting buckets by Neil and Thomas Williams (10 points) to make it 50-42 with 2:16 remaining.

DeKalb could only manage a free throw and a three-point play for the remainder of the clash, while Heinle, Williams and Neil were flawless in eight foul shot attempts to close the game.

“It’s a conference rival, and they were going to make a comeback,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “It was going to be one of those dogfight games. DeKalb fights real hard.”

KHS also dealt with the absence of Trever Heinle, who went down with an injury after a lay-up attempt in the second quarter. Heinle is expected to return shortly to game action for the Knights.

Meanwhile, in sophomore action, DeKalb beat Kaneland 52-50 despite 12 points from Connor Fedderly.

KHS enjoys the holiday weekend before heading off to the Plano Christmas Classic, edition 49, beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

This will be the third straight trip for the boys, who look to get to championship heights like they did in 2009.

Kaneland is scheduled to face either Morris or Sandwich on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m.

The top five seeds for the upcoming Plano Christmas Classic are:
1. Rockford Christian
2. Yorkville
3. Kaneland
4. Aurora Christian
5. Belvidere

Boys hoops puts clamp on Spartans, H-BR

Photo: Kaneland’s Dan Miller fights for control of the ball in the second period when Kaneland traveled to Sycamore on Saturday. Kaneland dominated, winning 70-42. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball is enjoying a three-game win streak dating back to last week—all three of the double-digit variety.

Coming into this week, the Knights held court with victories in Sycamore and Hinckley.

The Knights are now 5-3 on the season (2-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Expanding a tight halftime lead, the Knights went into overdrive against rival host Sycamore on Saturday.

In the 70-42 win over the Spartans, Kaneland welcomed 22 points from Marcel Neil, 14 from teammate Thomas Williams and 10 from Trever Heinle.

The Knights also launched six three-pointers, including three from Neil.

Sycamore produced no players in double figures.

The Knights’ 9-5 lead after the first frame increased to 26-20 at the halftime buzzer. Then, Kaneland turned it on in the third for a 51-31 lead after three quarters before adding a 19-spot in the fourth.

In sophomore action, Sycamore got past Kaneland 47-44 to drop the Knights to 4-2.

Along Route 30, the varsity Knights enjoyed a Tuesday win by getting off on the right foot, going up 14-2 after the first quarter, and holding a 31-17 advantage at the half.

Kaneland extended its sizable lead to 49-33 before the contest wound down.

The Knights were helped by Matt Limbrunner’s 13 and Thomas Williams’ 12.

The sophomore Knights also beat their H-BR counterparts, 61-26.

The varsity crew heads for a meeting against DeKalb on Friday, Dec. 16, in Maple Park.

Boys split against current, former conference mates

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.

Sophomoric!
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.

Boys hoops split first four encounters

Photo: Marcel Neil goes skyward for a bucket during Saturday’s 55-42 win at the Windmill Classic against host Batavia. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Not a terrible start for a lineup with plenty of turnover and a new opening tournament setting.

Despite a one-point loss to St. Francis in the first game of the 2011-12 season on Nov. 23, the Kaneland Knights boys basketball roster rallied for a 10-point win over Crystal Lake South on Friday and a 13-point win over the Ken Peddy Windmill Classic host Batavia Bulldogs. Tuesday featured a loss to visiting Metea Valley.

The Knights, under third-year head man Brian Johnson, begin at 2-2 after their new opening arrangement, and first week of action.

For years, the Knights began the Thanksgiving weekend at the Strombom Tourney in Sycamore.

Against the eventual tourney champ St. Francis Spartans, the Knights lost 56-55 and were paced by sophomore Thomas Williams’ 13 points, Trever Heinle (All-Tournament Team member) with 10 and Tyler Heinle’s 10.

St. Francis took a 16-13 lead after one, and led 32-30 at halftime, before seeing its lead increase to 45-39 after three. KHS closed the margin some, but couldn’t break the barrier.

Against the Gators two nights later, the Knights were fortunate to have 27 points from Trever Heinle at their disposal, plus 11 from West Aurora transfer Marcel Neil.

After a deadlocked 12-12 first quarter, KHS went ahead 26-23 at the half and 37-33 after three before making the lead stick and then some in the fourth.

Against former conference rival Batavia, which was missing scoring threat Cole Gardner, KHS found twin 17-point efforts from both Neil and Trever Heinle.

“One of our goals is to pressure teams, and I think we’re hard to guard, especially for teams that aren’t used to more athletic guys,” Johnson said. “That helps us, and gives us an edge at times on the offensive end.”

Heinle and Neil made three straight shots for the Knights for an early 8-2 lead with five minutes, 42 seconds to go in the first. Once the Bulldogs tied the score at 10, Heinle jacked a three and converted on another field goal for a 15-10 lead with 19.1 seconds to go that closed out the first frame’s scoring.

The second quarter also went the Knights’ way.

Up 21-17, Neil had an offensive putback, while Tyler Heinle hit a three for a 26-17 lead with 2:10 remaining in the half. A Trever Heinle bucket made it 28-18 just before the halftime buzzer.

Kaneland used a strong quarter by Neil to go up by as many as 17 points, and the frame ended with Kaneland up 39-22.

A Neil basket elevated KHS to its biggest lead of 44-24 with 6:18 to go in the game. But Batavia converted on shots it hadn’t previously and closed the lead to nine, before the Knights exhibited ball control and clock management beneficial to the winning cause.

Neil’s effort was key in the win, and it had to do with letting the game come to him.

“Some of my shots weren’t falling, and then I just attacked the rim and (started) making things happen and we got a lot of buckets,” Neil said. “We just started breaking the defense down and taking our time, relaxing and playing as a team.”

In the 87-65 setback to Metea Valley, KHS kept it to a 43-35 deficit at the half, and 59-50 after three, but then saw the fourth quarter get out of hand for the final deficit.

The Knights were paced by Williams’ 14, Neil’s 12 and Drew David’s 10.

Kaneland now heads into NIB-12 play with a home date against the Morris Redskins on Friday, Dec. 2.

Knight boys hoops hope to repeat NIB-12 glory

Photo: Trever Heinle looks to give KHS a lift at guard. File Photo

“Kids know what the expectations are,” says Johnson
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In KHS coach Brian Johnson’s first year, he had the pleasure of Dave Dudzinski in the post.

His second year featured the first conference title for Knight hoops since the Reagan years.

What wrinkle shows itself in the 2011-12 campaign?

“I think its the group that’s been with us now three years,” Johnson said. “Practices go a lot smoother. There’s not as much downtime. Kids know what the expectations are.

Those that are counted on to take up the slack with departure of personnel like Chaon Denlinger, Zach Ringhouse, Tyler Callaghan and Daniel Helm will be returnees like guards Trever Heinle, Drew David, Tyler Heinle as well as senior forward Bryan Van Bogaert.

“Nothing’s a surprise to these kids and they are ready to help,” Johnson said. Tyler made a name for himself in the Rochelle game last year and Trever has put so much time into being a better player.

New varsity additions that are counted on to make an impact for Knight hoops are senior transfer Marcel Neil, formerly of West Aurora, at guard, and junior guard Dan Miller.

“The new guys on varsity this year have already improved in a short time,” Johnson said.

New varsity additions also include sophomore Tyler Carlson, sophomore John Pruett, junior Clay Denlinger, guard Thomas Williams, junior Noel Delgado and junior Matt Limbrunner.

Johnson takes pride in the team’s court awareness.

“Losing guys from last year like we had isn’t good for any program, but the kids have resilience and want to continue to get better,” Johnson said.

The Knights begin their quest to improve their 17-9 mark and conference title from a year ago beginning with the Windmill Classic in Batavia on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Using your noodle for boys hoops

The Kaneland boys’ basketball program hosts their third annual spaghetti dinner for the Kaneland community on Monday, Nov. 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

The price is $5 per person, and food will be served by the boys in the basketball program, along with a chance to meet the players and coaching staff. RSVP to Brian Johnson by phone at (630) 365-5100, ext. 347 or by e-mail at brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

June, July help KHS boys’ long-range game

Photo: Trever Heinle, shown here in Northern Illinois Big XII action, was one of the Knights going through the rigors of summer hoops. File Photo

Knights’ Johnson reveals busy hoops-filled summer
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—In coach Brian Johnson’s case, school wasn’t really out for summer after all.

Summer league action for the Knights basketball league completed last week, and Johnson was glad to get some floor time for the Knights while they could.

The Knights used the time to play in an organized summer league at Geneva High School, while also hooping it up in shootouts at Morris and Crystal Lake South.

Johnson is quite the proponent of using the summer as a time to hone skills and increasing the chances of success come winter. Kaneland’s summer league time last year was a predecessor to the Knights’ first conference title since 1982.

“We tried to get a lot of games in this year,” Johnson said. “A lot of kids haven’t played with each other on the varsity level. With losing Daniel (Helm, relocated to Glenwood High School, in Chatham, Ill.), and key seniors, I thought it was real important they play a lot of games.”

The Knights saw their share of the Chicago area in some unfamiliar settings.

“Joliet West was a real good tournament. Morris was a very nice tournament, and we finished at Crystal Lake South, which was a good tournament. We had some success, but we also had some rough patches,” Johnson said.

The rough patches that Johnson refers to usually ended with ice on a body part.

“We went through a lot of injuries. The Heinle brothers (Trever and Tyler) were injured. Trever broke his thumb at Morris, and Ty dislocated his elbow at Crystal Lake South. Our new transfer from West Aurora, Marcel Neil, hurt his back. Dan Miller had a concussion, and he’s another key player. It was hard on the boys at times,” Johnson said.

The weekly summer routine provided an outlet for working around any hard times.

“From 7 to 9 a.m. we crossfit, and then from 9 to 11 we held camp and tried to implement new things defensively. Geneva summer league would be on Wednesdays, we’d play three games on Monday. Depending where we were at for the weekend, we’d play five or six games. Some of the kids would go to baseball summer league and play doubleheaders on top of that. It would be a busy week for a lot of the boys,” Johnson said.

While the exact impact of the 2011 summer league won’t be known until the late days of winter 2012, Johnson touts the institution.

“I think if you look back on the past year, I think what we did in the summer was huge. This was the first year that a lot of the sports came together for the summer, and we were on the same page. We got stronger, and you saw what the kids were able to do,” Johnson said.

Getting with the program—KHS Summer Camps

beginning Monday at:

• Kaneland HS
Football Fundamentals
Tennis Fundamentals
Soccer Fundamentals
• Harter MS
Volleyball Setting Camp
Volleyball Fundamentals

Kaneland hoops golf outing rescheduled

KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball’s second annual golf outing has been changed to Friday, July 29.

There are still plenty of openings for foursomes and sponsorship opportunities. The golf outing will be held at Bliss Creek in Sugar Grove. The outing brings together Kaneland community members, athletes, parents, alumni and businesses.

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

Prizes will also be available in a raffle, along with a silent auction with prizes. The golf outing will be a scramble and cost $400 a foursome, and $35 if you just attend the dinner.

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

Area can help Illinois Hoops Hall of Fame launch

by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Westminster Christian High School basketball coach Bruce Firchau is equipped with a brochure about the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum that reads, “For over a century, the game of basketball has played a significant role in the lives of thousands of Illinois residents. From small gyms in rural towns to large arenas in metropolitan areas, basketball has created decades of unforgettable memories and traditions in the state.”

For what Firchau is helping to get off the ground, that describes this state-wide passion project to a ‘T’.

Firchau has not only been an area hoops coach for years, including a stop at Oswego High School, but is also an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association representative and on the board of directors as chairman of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum.

“We are trying to spread the word throughout the state as really making this something memorable,” Firchau said. “The entire state can get involved and there’s plenty of memories from the Kaneland area, as well.”

The Hall of Fame Museum is slated to open in 2013 and housed in the David S. Palmer Arena in downtown Danville, Ill., roughly two hours south of Chicago.

“We chose Danville as a location because it was near Interstate 74, and it’s centrally located,” Firchau said. “Danville is very eager to have it.”

Blueprints and renderings are completed, but the true attraction of the museum will lay in the material within.

The museum will combine video, exhibits, interactive presentations, photographs and memorabilia.

Attractions will highlight players, coaches, officials, teams and media members who have made their mark with the game.

The museum will operate solely on contrbutions from private and corporate benefactors and individuals.

“This museum is going to be all-encompassing,” Firchau said. “Pro, college and high schools will be covered.”

“We have talked to Loyola about memorabilia concerning their NCAA Championship, Wheaton College about its Division II championship and North Park about its Division III championship. Sports information directors from places like NIU, DePaul and (University of Illinois) are all eager and have helped out,” Firchau said.

The museum will also deal with issues of the time, like segregation and the introduction of girls basketball to the Prairie State landscape.

Firchau also mentioned an ambitious exhibit of a school-wide roll call, from schools A to Z, operational to defunct.

This is just one of the many ways Kaneland residents can pitch in to get the future basketball mecca off the ground.

“If someone were to have a letter jacket from the old Elburn or Maple Park high schools, that would help,” Firchau said. “This has been a strong area for basketball. The girls basketball championship came here in 1982. There were coaches like Ron Johnson, George Birkett, and Bob Pederson in the past that gave so much back to the community. If someone wanted to contribute an old uniform or had old films, that’s the type of thing we’re looking for.”

The Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum can be contacted at: 100 W. Main Street, Ste. 146. Danville, IL 61832, and called at (217) 442-DUNK. E-mail contact is info@ilhoopshall.com, and can be clicked at www.ilhoopshall.com.

Winter sports awards, NIB-12 honors dished out

KANELAND—For boys basketball, captains Matt Cowans, Tyler Callaghan and Chaon Denlinger were recognized. Most Improved Player nods went to Zach Ringhouse and Trever Heinle. Denlinger also took home the Most Valuable Player. Callghan was awarded Defensive Player of the Year, and freshman teammate Daniel Helm was named Offensive Player of the Year. Kory Harner was named the winner of the Mr. Husle Award, and the All-Northern Ilinois Big XII entries were Denlinger and Helm.

For girls basketball, Defensive Player of the Year honor went to senior Andie Strang and teammate Emily Heimerdinger.

Kelly Evers was named MVP of the varsity squad, while teammate Emma Bradford took home the Most Improved Player award.

Heimerdinger was also award Ms. Kaneland Basketball and made honorable mention for the Northern Illinois Big XII, while Evers added to her awards with a Northern lllinois Big XII all-conference mention.

For sophomore girls basketball, Ashley Prost was named MVP. Brooke Harner was given the Defensive Player of the Year award, followed by Ashley Castellanos and Morgan Newhouse combining on the Most Improved Player awards.

Ms. Kaneland Basketball for the sophomore unit went to Sarah Grams.

Additionally, Alli Liss was named the winner of the Sophomore Hustle Chart Winner.

For the freshman level, Lauren Zick was named MVP and Sydney Strang was awarded Defensive Player of the Year. Most Improved Player was shared by Kelly Wallner and Katie Brinkman. Ms. Basketball went to Amber Winquist-Bailey, while Strang and Caroline Heimerdinger shared captains honors.

Knights wrestling issued a handful of awards, beginning with Kyle Davidson and Jimmy Boyle taking the Most Valuable Wrestler honors.

Zach Theis was named MVW of the JV ranks. Stephen Gust took home the Most Improved Wrestler award. The JV Most Improved Wrestler nod went to David Barnhart.

Andrew Essex was named the Bob Domena Memorial Award Hardest Worker.

Ben Kovalick was given the Dave Osman Memorial Award Most Dedicated Wrestler honor. The Russell Anderson Memorial Award was given to Dan Goress.

Davidson and Boyle were recognized as team captains, and Zach Ganz took home the Heart and Soul Award.

Finally, Boyle, Kovalick, Goress, Davidson and Keagan Mattes were honored for their inclusion on the All-Northern Illinois Big XII team.

For Kaneland Lady Knights bowling, Holly Thomas took home recognition for high series, high game, high average and captainship.

Morgan Wojciechowski was named Most Improved Bowler, and Seleana Isaacs was named Most Improved, as well. Isaacs also was given the coach’s award.

Boys basketball plans golf outing

KANELAND—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 second annual golf outing on Saturday, June 11, at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

The golf outing has been developed to bring together KHS athletes, parents, alumni and communituy businesses. The fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Thanks to support from local businesses and donations from alumni and Kaneland supporters, a variety of prizes will be available in the raffle. Also scheduled is a silent auction with more prizes.

The golf outing will be a scramble and cost $400 for a foursome and $35 if you would just like to attend the dinner.

For more information, contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100 ext. 347, or write to brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

Boys basketball plans golf outing

KANELAND—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 second annual golf outing on Saturday, June 11, at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

The golf outing has been developed to bring together KHS athletes, parents, alumni and communituy businesses. The fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts. Thanks to support from local businesses and donations from alumni and Kaneland supporters, a variety of prizes will be available in the raffle. Also scheduled is a silent auction with more prizes.

The golf outing will be a scramble and cost $400 for a foursome and $35 if you would just like to attend the dinner.

If interested in playing in the event, would like to be a sponsor or make a donation, please contact Brian Johnson at (630) 365-5100 ext. 347 or write to brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

Negative charge: ACC ousts Kaneland boys

Photo: Kaneland’s Zach Ringhouse drives toward the basket for two of his nine points in the 63-53 season-ending loss to Aurora Central Catholic on March 2. Ringhouse is among six seniors departing due to graduation. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—Turns out, the 26th contest of the year for Knights boys hoops for 2010-11 was its last.

A season that had area faithful wondering how second-year coach Brian Johnson’s roster could adjust with losses like Dave Dudzinski and Ryley Bailey, ended with a 17-9 record after a 63-53 loss to third-seeded Aurora Central Catholic on March 2.

The Sycamore Regional loss meant the end of a wild season for the second-seeded Knights.

Aurora Central Catholic (15-13) would go on to defeat the top-seeded Rochelle Hubs in the Sycamore Regional final on Friday, 56-51, and was scheduled to face Marian Central Catholic on Wednesday in the Woodstock North Sectional.

“They’re a good team,” Johnson said. “They played some really strong programs, and got that nice lead in the second quarter.”

For Kaneland, Chaon Denlinger had a team-high 17 points, followed by 12 from Daniel Helm. Ryan Harreld had a game-high 22 points which included four three-pointers.

Using proficiency down low and with an outside touch, ACC went out to a 20-12 lead in the first quarter. Trever Heinle’s bucket closed within 20-14 with 53.0 second left. After a basket put the Chargers up 22-14, Heinle’s two foul shots with 25.2 left made it 22-16 before a trifecta at the buzzer gave ACC a 25-16 lead after the first eight minutes.

Two long-range threes by the Chargers gave ACC a chance to see its lead bloom to 36-25 with 3:05 to go, but a Denlinger trifecta with 1:17 to go cut the lead to eight. The Knights trailed 36-28 going into halftime.

A Tyler Callaghan bucket 32 seconds into the second half brought KHS to its closest margin of the quarter at 36-30. A late flurry by the Chargers, which included three baskets and a foul shot, extended the lead to 50-38 by the end of the third frame.

The fourth quarter started in an encouraging fashion for Kaneland as Denlinger’s offensive putback and a three-point play by Zach Ringhouse brought the deficit to 50-43 with 5:39 to go. However, ACC had its own three-point play and an additional free throw got the lead back up to 11. Kaneland would close it to 54-46 with 3:28 to go but could get no closer.

With the season-ending loss, the Knights say goodbye to Ringhouse, Andrew O’Herron, Callaghan, Matt Spitzzeri, Matt Cowans and Denlinger.

“Yeah, it was the first game of the regional and we lost, but the kids in there did some amazing things. People were telling me ‘you’re going to win eight games, it’s a rebuilding year, you’re going to have some hard times.’ They go out and win 17 games and go out as conference champions,” Johnson said.