Category Archives: Boys Basketball

KHS boys stops Sycamore, topped by Yorkville

The Kaneland boys basketball team had a difficult first quarter before righting the ship in their last meeting with the Yorkville Foxes, but the most recent meeting on Friday had the host Foxes handing the Knights a 46-35 loss.

On Saturday, Kaneland was the beneficiary of a 27-point performance from center Dave Dudzinski in a 47-42 beating of visiting Sycamore.

After the weekend split, KHS is at 13-8 (5-6 Western Sun Conference).

Dudzinski led the Knights with 10 points against Yorkville, helped by 6-for-6 foul shooting. On the whole, Kaneland was just 12-for-22 from the charity stripe.

Kaneland led 13-9 after one, but fell behind 21-17 at the half.

Yorkville widened the gap in the third and found itself ahead 36-25 before maintaining the lead until the final buzzer.

Against the Spartans, Kaneland led 16-6 after one, while Sycamore closed within 28-20 at the halftime buzzer. While Sycamore managed to close the margin further at 37-31 after three, Dudzinski and the Knights held firm with the final five-point margin.

The Knights visit Sycamore on Friday, Feb. 13.

Photo: Knight cager Taylor Andrews tries making the best of a shot opportunity during Friday’s 46-35 loss at Yorkville. Photo by Ben Draper

Knight boys victim of Rochelle sharpshooting

by Mike Slodki
Maple Park–No matter the gameplan for familiar competition, it’s tough to guard against a Rochelle Hubs boys basketball crew that springs for 10 three-pointers.

Such was the case on Friday as the Knights fell to the host Hubs by a final of 77-63, seeing their record fall to 12-7 (4-5 Western Sun Conference).

Propelled by 10 treys, including five by Seth Anderson, the Hubs kept the Knights at bay.

The Knights were paced on the hardwood by Dave Dudzinski with 22 points, while Ryley Bailey added 12 of his own. Anderson had 22 for the Hubs.

Rochelle went to the foul line a massive 37 times, converting on 23 opportunities. Kaneland went 13-for-22 from the line.

Rochelle led after one frame by a 17-13 clip and increased it to 38-32 after the first half. While Kaneland kept up with the Hubs and trailed 56-50 after three, the lead widened and the Knights were outscored 21-13 in the fourth.

“The loss to Rochelle basically has brought us back to the basics defensively,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We have really concentrated on our defensive intensity and we have made adjustments to the way we pressure the ball and play in the passing lanes.

Meanwhile, the sophomores were helped by Trever Heinle’s 24 points in a 63-54 win over Rochelle.

The varsity Knights hope to take a win on Friday, Feb. 5, at Yorkville and against the visiting Sycamore Spartans on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Kaneland boys downed by DeKalb, handle Hampshire

Kaneland boys hoops was still stumped by DeKalb on Friday, but managed to pass the Hampshire test on Saturday evening.

The KHS basketball crew were swept in the regular season series by the Barbs thanks to a 50-38 setback on Friday night.

Kaneland came back and handed the visiting Whip-purs a small measure of revenge for last year’s playoff exit with a 50-35 win.

The Knights sit at 12-6 (4-4 Western Sun Conference) with seven games left in regular season play.

Against the rival Barbs, center Dave Dudzinski outscored counterpart Jordan Threloff 16-13, and Chaon Denlinger scored 13.

One pivotal aspect of the game that proved beneficial to DeKalb was from the foul line; while KHS went just 2-for-6, the Barbs ended up 17-for-26 from the line.

Kaneland led 11-10 after one, and fell behind 21-20 at the half before falling to a 16-9 third quarter run by DeKalb. The Barbs outscored the Knights 13-9 to secure the win.

Against the visiting Whip-purs, Dudzinski impressed with a game-high 19 points, followed by Steve Colombe’s 11.

The Knights were a spotless 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.

Kaneland led 11-8 after one before Hampshire knotted matters at 18 apiece at the halftime break. The Knights’ offense found openings in the third and led 31-28 at the buzzer before opening up a 19-7 run for the fourth.

The sophomore game had Hampshire beat KHS 46-43.

On tap for the varsity Knights: a road venture to WSC school Rochelle on Friday, Jan. 29.

Boys feel better after taking two

by Mike Slodki
How do you combat a three-game losing streak at a pivotal point in the season?

How about going toe-to-toe with conference rival Glenbard South on Friday and handling a tenacious Hinckley-Big Rock squad on Saturday.

With two wins on the weekend, Kaneland improved to 11-5 and 4-3 in Western Sun Conference play.

Friday saw the Knights handle the host Raiders in Glen Ellyn by a 41-36 clip, while Kaneland also invaded Hinckley-Big Rock for a 63-49 non-conference win on Saturday evening.

Not much luck happened for the Knights or Raiders on the offensive end but KHS still led 8-6 after one and 14-12 at the half.

The Knights added to their lead and found themselves up 25-21 after the third before outscoring GS 16-15 in the final eight minutes.

Dave Dudzinski paced all scorers with 20 points, also went 8-for-9 from the foul line, accounting for all the successfull free throws on Kaneland’s end.

In Little 10-country, Kaneland led 10-7 early, but a basket and free throw tied the game at 10 for H-BR with under two minutes to go in the frame. A Dudzinski basket with 33.2 seconds to go in the quarter gave KHS a 13-12 lead but a three-pointer by Brian Michaels with 20.7 remaining and a breakaway buzzerbeater gave the Royals a 17-13 lead after one.

Hinckley kept attacking the basket and led 28-25 before Dudzinski put back a Donovan Williams trey attempt with 1:53 to go to close within 28-27 and hit another shot for a one point led with 52.9 remaining. The center hit a shot from underneath the rim to go up 31-28 with 34.9 to go while Matt Spitzzeri’s layup with 18.7 remaining closed out the scoring at 33-29.

Dudzinski hit two shots in a row and Spitzzeri nailed a shot for a 45-33 lead with 2:35 remaining in the third. The full-court press was on and H-BR called its final timeout, to the delight of the Kaneland players and coaching staff.

“We made a good adjustment in the locker room,” KHS coach Brian Johnson. “Coach Bieritz said to think about going to full-court press. If they couldn’t get Michaels, their main ball-handler the ball, they struggled a bit and our energy picked up a little bit.”

The fourth quarter featured the Knights hitting four shots in a row to nab their biggest lead of 57-36 with 5:42 to go in the game.

Dudzinski had 24 points and Ryley Bailey had 14 points for the effort.

“We knew that Michaels was their main ball-handler,” Bailey said. “We caused some of their other players to make decisions and it benefited us.”

The Knights travel to DeKalb on Friday, Jan. 22.

Photo: Inside presence Dave Dudzinski, shown here in action last week at Geneva, had a productive weekend in wins at Glenbard South and Hinckley-Big Rock. The Holy Cross signee had a combined 44 points over the weekend. File Photo

KHS boys hoops going through three-game skid

Knights see setbacks against Batavia, BC and Geneva
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland High School basketball was a Ryley Bailey three-point shot away from sneaking by Batavia on Friday and potentially riding that positive wave into Burlington Central on Saturday evening.

Instead, Bailey’s running attempt went in and out of the rim and the Knights lost 42-40 to the visiting Bulldogs. Saturday had the Knights lose 65-51 to the host Rockets. The Knights also dropped a 61-51 skirmish at Geneva.

The three-game skid has Kaneland sitting at 9-5 with a 3-3 record in Western Sun Conference play.

Going into the fourth quarter vs. the Bulldogs, Kaneland was down 31-30 and gave up a basket to Ricky Clopton 34 seconds into the frame.

Bailey’s first basket of the contest followed by two Dave Dudzinski foul shots gave KHS a 34-33 leads with 5:21 remaining.

Two baskets by Batavia put the Bulldogs ahead 38-34 with 4:20 remaining, but a Steve Colombe basket on a feed by Dudzinski and a Donovan Williams shot tied it with 3:02 to go.

Bailey missed a free throw but Dudzinski’s putback with 1:53 remaining gave KHS a 40-38 lead. Two foul shots by Batavia tied the score 11 seconds later. After Kaneland worked on a possession, the ball was lost and Batavia’s Clopton was fouled driving to the hoop with 7.9 ticks left. After hitting his free throws, Bailey got the ball on a pass and lifted the unsuccessful trey attempt.

“I thought we could bring it up the sideline, try to go middle and get a layup,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Didn’t work out that way. Ryley had a nice shot, it just didn’t go in, and that happens. Those shots will fall eventually.”

Kaneland’s biggest leads of the entire night was two points.

Dudzinski’s 20 points resembled the only Knight line in double figures.

The Knights were also 8-for-12 from the charity stripe.

Against BC, Chaon Denlinger led the way with 20 points, followed by Colombe’s 13 and Dudzinski’s 11.

Kaneland led 15-14 after one quarter, but fell behind 29-20 at halftime. The Knights closed the deficit to 43-35 after three but could get no closer.

Against Geneva, KHS saw Ryley Bailey score 15 and Dudzinski score 11.

The Knights fell behind 12-9 to the Vikings after one frame and 37-21 after the second quarter. Kaneland closed within 49-34 at the end of three, but it was too late to gain any more momentum.

In sophomore action, the Knights beat the Rockets 50-35 behind eight points from Ray Barry.

KHS tries to earn a conference win at Glenbard South on Friday, Jan. 15.

Photo: Knight hoopster Ryley Bailey gets two of his team-high 15 points the hard way in Kaneland’s 61-51 loss at Geneva on Tuesday. Photo by Ben Draper

Plano speaking: Boys b-ball takes 2009 Classic title

47-39 win over Rockford Christian gives Knights third-ever championship
by Mike Slodki
What does an eight-point win over Rockford Christian get you?

How about a Plano Christmas Classic Tournament win?

The 47-39 win over Rockford Christian on Dec. 30, 2009, netted the Knights their third Plano tourney win and their first since 1994.

The win put the cap on a gathering that saw coach Brian Johnson’s crew also defeat Putnam County, Sandwich and Genoa-Kingston.

“Winning the Plano tournament gives us a head of steam going into an extremely tough part of our schedule,” Johnson said. “We are very excited about what we were able to accomplish and are hopeful that the momentum that has been built will help us within the conference.

Center Dave Dudzinski was named the tournament MVP, following Seneca’s Seth Evans who won in 2008.

Ryley Bailey was also named to the all-tournament group.

Kaneand (9-2, 3-1 Western Sun Conference) got 32 points from Dudzinski, who was also 8-for-10 from the foul line. It’s the second highest point total for a Knight, behind P.J. Fleck’s 40 against Sandwich in 1999.

Kaneland and RC were tied 10-10 after one and the Knights poured it on in the second frame and led 26-16 at the break.

While Rockford Christian closed the deficit to 32-27 after three, Kaneland won the fourth quarter battle 15-12.

Kaneland hosts rival Batavia on Friday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. The last meeting in Maple Park between the two squads on Feb. 27, 2009, resulted in Mike Pritchard’s evident three-point shot being ruled a two and a 54-53 loss for KHS.

Photo: Dave Dudzinski travels to the hoop during the Plano Christmas Classic. The Holy Cross signee scored 32 to lift the Knights to the title. File Photo

Plano Christmas Classic
2009 All-Tournament Team
*Dave Dudzinski – Kaneland (MVP)
*Ryley Bailey – Kaneland

Brayden Teuscher – Rockford (Christian)
Jahlil Smith – Rockford (Christian)
Scott Suchy – Genoa-Kingston
Josh DeGraaf – Morris
Kjeld Torkelson – Morris
Kyle Anderson – Newark
Robert Hearon – Plano
Brian Michaels – Hinckley-Big Rock
Tavis Gibson – Yorkville
Justin Wegener – Sandwich

The 00’s Champions
2000 Bureau Valley
2001 Bureau Valley
2002 Coal City
2003 Yorkville
2004 Seneca
2005 Seneca
2006 Seneca
2007 Hall
2008 Seneca
2009 Kaneland

Knight boys spreading cheer in Plano Christmas Classic

Dudzinski, Denlinger, Bailey key components in 3-0 start to tourney
by Mike Slodki

Note: The Kaneland boys basketball team won the Plano Christmas Classic, defeating Rockford Christian 47-39 Wednesday night, behind Dave Dudzinski’s 32 points. This was the fifth year the Knights have made it to the final of the Classic, and their third win.

PLANO—No.1 seed? No problem.

Kaneland Knights boys basketball (8-2, 3-1 Western Sun Conference) cut a path to the Plano Christmas Classic championship contest set for Wednesday against Rockford Christian, after defeating Putnam County, Sandwich and Genoa-Kingston so far in the tourney.

Kaneland took care of business within the cozy confines of Plano High School away from the snowy outdoor landscape, beating the Panthers of Putnam County on Saturday, 62-28.

It was prolific enough a morning that the 14 points each by Dave Dudzinski and Chaon Denlinger were enough to match the entire Panther output.

Kaneland also went 7-for-10 from the foul line, while PC went 10-for-14.

The Knights found the basket early with a 23-5 first quarter production, and kept Putnam County in check in the second to go up 35-11 at halftime.

The Knights once again outscored the Panthers by a 12-6 margin in the third to lead 47-17 after three.

The Knights took it to their second round opponent, Sandwich, in the form of a 47-27 win on Monday afternoon.

Dudzinski and Denlinger supplied 15 points apiece.

The first quarter got off to a nice start for the Knights as Denlinger supplied the first seven points.

“We like to run and Ryley gets the ball up the floor really good,” Denlinger said. “He finds a seam and gets me the ball.”

A Steve Colombe jumper and a Dudzinski putback of a Ryley Bailey blocked shot made it 12-3 with 2:05 left, and Bailey sunk a three-point basket with 31.6 seconds remaining.

That field goal gave KHS a 15-5 lead after one.

The tempo slowed considerably and Kaneland managed just two field goals from Dudzinski at 2:03 and Tyler Callaghan at 16.1 seconds for a 19-8 lead at the half.

Sandwich made six of its first eight shots in the third quarter to close within 30-21 before Callaghan made a shot with 1:39 left in the frame to go up 32-21. KHS had a cold streak which saw the team miss 12 out of 14 shots through the third and fourth quarters, but still led 32-23 at the end of the third.

The Indians put two foul shots in just eight seconds into the final quarter to close within 32-25, but two free throws and a basket by Denlinger, followed by a bucket by Bailey brought the lead to 38-26 with 3:01 to go. A reverse layup by Dudzinski put a nice flair on the afternoon and increased the lead to 45-27 with 1:35 remaining.

“When we decided to pull the ball out, extend their zone and get David the ball in the middle of the floor, he kicked it out a couple of times. That’s when we started to feel we could play our game,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.

In the semifinal matchup, Kaneland got past the Cogs 58-47 on Tuesday.

A 21-point night by Bailey led the way and Dudzinski had 11.

Kaneland gets back into the regular swing of things on Friday, Jan. 8, 2010, vs. Batavia.

Photo: Chaon Denlinger goes skyward during Monday’s 47-27 second round win over the Sandwich Indians at the 47th Plano Christmas Classic Photo by Ben Draper

Knights hoops gains footing against Rochelle

by Mike Slodki
The game itself had a tough time getting started for Kaneland.

Even before the visiting Rochelle Hubs stormed out to an initial halftime lead, the game was originally shelved from a Dec. 8 starting point due to cold temperatures.

The Knights finally got their footing against their Western Sun Conference foe and came away with a 69-55 win on Dec. 16.

The win raises Kaneland’s record to 5-2 with a 3-1 record in WSC play.

Center Dave Dudzinski had a career-high 29 points on the night, eclipsing his previous career-high of 27, also achieved against the Hubs.

Chaon Denlinger also supplied 16 in the win.

The Knights also went 13-for-24 from the foul line.

Rochelle went up early after the first eight minutes by a 16-15 score, and led Kaneland 32-26 at the break.

Kaneland roared back with a 21-11 third quarter to go up 47-43 at the end of the third before outscoring the Hubs by 10 in the fourth to pull away.

Lower-class action this past week featured the Knights losing a 51-46 meeting with Yorkville on Friday, despite Bryan VanBogaert scoring 12. Rochelle got the best of the sophomores on Dec. 16 by a 50-47 clip. Trever Heinle had 12 in the effort.

Next up for the Knights is the 47th annual Plano Christmas Classic that has Kaneland the No. 1 seed in the gathering. Coach Brian Johnson’s crew is set to face the Putnam County Panthers on Saturday, Dec. 26, at 10:30 a.m. and will face either Sandwich or Hinckley-Big Rock on Monday, Dec. 28, at either 9 a.m. or 3:30 p.m.

Photo: Knights guard Ryley Bailey makes a mad dash for the ball on Dec. 16 in a 69-55 win over the rival Hubs. Photo by Ben Draper

47th Annual Plano Christmas Classic
Dec. 26-30, 2009

FIRST ROUND MATCHUPS
Saturday, Dec. 26
• 9 a.m. (8) Sandwich vs. Hinckley-Big Rock
• 10:30 a.m. (1) Kaneland vs. Putnam County
• 12:30 p.m. (4) Genoa-Kingston vs. Hall
• 2 p.m. (5) Yorkville vs. Coal City
• 3:30 p.m. (2) Newark vs. Somonauk
• 5:30 p.m. (7) Forreston vs. Morris
• 7 p.m. (6) Seneca vs. Plano
• 8:30 p.m. (3) Rockford Christian vs. Mendota

Kaneland could face either Sandwich or Hinckley-Big Rock
on Monday, Dec. 28 at 3:30 p.m. in the championship bracket,
or 9 a.m. in the consolation bracket.
Championship Game is Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 8 p.m.

In 2008: Kaneland finished 3-1 in the 59th E.C. Nichols Tourney
in Marengo. The Knights beat Hampshire 51-43 in the fifth-place game.
Winnebago beat Chicago’s Bogan high School by a final of 67-49
to win the Marengo gathering.

Boys hoops improves to 4-2 with win vs. YHS

Four players in double figures lead to 55-50 win
by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—It took a quarter for the Knights boys basketball team to gain their footing on Thursday evening, but they righted themselves for the final three frames and held off a charging Yorkville squad to win 55-50.

The Knights improved to 4-2 with a 2-1 record in Western Sun Conference play.

The Foxes stormed out to a 13-6 lead ,which found Kaneland playing catch-up, but the Knights outscored Yorkville 15-4 in the second and 22-19 in the third, before Yorkville closed the deficit by two.

Chaon Denlinger of Kaneland supplied a team-high 13 points, while Donovan Williams had 12 points, all in the second half. Ryley Bailey added 12 (three three-pointers) and man-in-the-middle Dave Dudzinski had 10.

The Knights went 12-for-19 from the free throw line, while the Foxes went 14-for-16. Tavis Gibson of Yorkville had 18 points.

After falling behind by seven in the first, Kaneland stormed back to take a 16-15 lead with 4:44 remaining in the half and went up 21-17 at the break.

A Denlinger basket with 5:05 gave Kaneland its biggest lead of the game to that point at 29-20. Denlinger later hit a three-point play to go up 32-23 with 3:55 to go, but a mini-Fox rally closed within 34-32 with 2:14 left.

Bailey’s five-point barrage at the end of the third gave the Knights a 43-36 lead.

Yorkville failed to go away and got the lead at 43-42 with 5:20 to go, but a Denlinger shot and two foul shots by Williams gave some breathing room at 47-42.

Williams would hit two more important free throws down the stretch to help secure the win.

“The last games I haven’t been much of a scoring threat,” Williams said. “I’ve been told I should step up and score some points, so I just tried to do that.”

With the score at 52-50, Dudzinski took the ball and made a reverse layup to give the Knights a 54-50 lead with 16.5 left to ice the game.

“Yorkville had that zone, and they made us work for every bucket,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “They competed and played hard, and you’ve got to give it to Yorkville.”

The boys now get an extended break until their entry into the historic Plano Christmas Classic on Saturday, Dec. 26.

Boys hoops conference clash fails to go way of Knights

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—KHS boys basketball kept afloat for three quarters.

It was the fourth quarter that sunk the Knights on Friday.

Victim to a 9-0 run and going nearly 10 minutes with just two points scored served a bad ending in a 44-40 loss to visiting DeKalb in a highly anticipated matchup.

The Knights are now 2-2 with a 1-1 record in Western Sun Conference.

“It was a big game and we lost, and I’m not a big fan of moral victories, but our guys are going to learn what it takes to compete with the big boys like the DeKalbs, Batavias and Genevas, and this was a good test for us,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said.

The Knights were led by Dave Dudzinski, who put a game-high 22 on the board in the effort. Kaneland held Dekalb at bay for three quarters before DeKalb found its way to the basket and outscored KHS 14-8.

Recent Illinois State University-signee Jordan Threloff had a team-high 16 points.

With Kaneland using a Dudzinski dunk with 27.8 seconds left to go up 32-29, things looked to be going the Knights’ way and they led 32-30 at the end of the frame.

DeKalb went on a tear, hitting six of its first eight shots to go up 42-35 with 55.8 seconds left.

Dudzinski showed an adept outside shooting touch and hit a three to close within 42-38 with 38.9 to go. Matt Cowans’ two foul shots closed within 42-40 after a foul gave the Knights possession, but with two turnovers coming on the next two possessions, DeKalb hit two foul shots to provide the final margin.

KHS faces visiting Yorkville on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

KHS takes third at Strombom hoops gathering

by Mike Slodki
How’s that for an opener?

Marking the first game of the coach Brian Johnson era, the Kaneland Knights boys basketball team took roughly a quarter to find its footing before captializing on fast breaks and high-percentage shots.

The resulting offensive party lead to an 82-53 win over Aurora Christian at the opening contest of the historic Leland G. Strombom Holiday Tournament at Sycamore High School on Nov. 24.

Following that contest, the Knights lost to Hampshire in overtime, 54-49 on Friday, and beat host Sycamore in the third-place game, 58-56.

On Tuesday, Kaneland improved to 3-1 (1-1 Western Sun Conference) with a 61-52 win vs. Glenbard South.

Center Dave Dudzinski paced the opening-night effort with 26 points. The night for the Holy Cross-signee included a three-pointer and 5-for-7 from the foul line.

“Both teams were kind of butting heads for awhile, and once we settled down and found our stride, everything just seemed to start clicking for us,” Dudzinski said.

Teammates Chaon Denlinger and Ryley Bailey added 11 points each. Donovan Williams added 10 for more scoring balance.

The Knights were 8-for-13 from the line, as well.

A Bailey bucket gave the Knights a 12-10 lead with 1:29 to go before AC tied it with 49 seconds left. Williams converted on a field from Bailey with :35 left for a 14-12 lead, and then hit a trey with seven seconds remaining in the frame before Aurora Christian nailed a three at the buzzer, thanks to Ryan Suttle, to make the score 17-15.

With 6:10 left in the second quarter, a Nick Marema three-pointer put the Eagles up 23-17 and completed an 11-0 run.

Kaneland then went on an absolute tear with a 14-0 run, capped by Dudzinski’s basket with 2:31 remaining in the half for a 31-23 lead.

Taylor Andrews hit a shot with 1:04 to go for a 37-28 lead, the Knights’ biggest up to that point ,and KHS went up 39-32 at the break.

Kaneland the scored the first five baskets of the third quarter thanks to Denlinger, Bailey and Dudzinski, for a 49-32 lead with 5:41 left in the frame.

With Tyler Callaghan’s basket with 1:01 left in the third, the Knights took their biggest lead of the game at 62-41, which is how the quarter ended. The biggest lead for the game was 29 at the end of the contest.

“Once we kind of spread out the floor, we were able to get better looks,” Johnson said. “It helps to have a 6-foot-9 kid in there to create stuff, but the kids were real smart with their shot selection.”

Against the Whip-purs, Denlinger had 21 points, while Dudzinski had 14 and Bailey had 10. The game was tied after regulation at 41.

Battling the Spartans, Dudzinski had a game-high 16 points, and the Knights were a helpful 17-for-22 from the foul line.

Against GS, Dudzinski and Denlinger had 20 points each, and parlayed a 35-20 halftime lead into a win.

Soph action had the Knights win their own tournament with a 57-55 OT win over Sycamore on Nov. 25.

Friday sees Kaneland host DeKalb at 7 p.m.

Photo: Knight Sean Paulick takes to the air during Kaneland’s 58-56 win over rival Sycamore in the Strombom tourney on Saturday evening. Photo by Ben Draper

Brian Johnson era begins for boys basketball

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—West Aurora’s loss is Kaneand’s gain.

Brian Johnson, an assistant to Gordie Kerkbaum at West Aurora High School a year ago, makes his coaching debut next week in Sycamore.

With a first-year coaching gig on the way, and the challenge of trying to improve a team that went 13-13 (5-9 Western Sun Conferernce) on the way, the task can seem overwhelming.

“I still have a lot to learn,” Johnson said. “I’m learning how to handle the kids energy.”

But the former Judson College player has a built-in ace up his sleeve.

“It starts with Dave, who’s a very good player,” Johnson said.

College of the Holy Cross-signee Dudzinski returns for his senior campaign, having averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game last year. The senior was also nominated for a McDonald’s All-American honor this week.

Johnson also likes what he has with other players going into the 2009-10 season.

“We have guys that are tough—that are looking to get to the next level,” Johnson said.

Returnees include senior guard Ryley Bailey, forward Steve Colombe, who has a flair for the perimeter game, forward Sean Paulick, guard Donovan Williams, forward Chaon Denlinger and forward Pat Fleming.

“Ryley has had a real nice couple of weeks. He’ll be a really strong player for us. Denlinger has gotten a lot better defensively,” Johnson said.

New to the varsity ranks are forward Danilo Bruno, guard Zach Ringhouse, guard Andrew O’Herron, forward Matt Spitzzeri, guard Matt Cowans, forward Taylor Andrews and forward Tyler Callaghan.

“The guys will get used to playing with each other and learning their role and we’re still trying to see where guys will fit in for us, but guys like Taylor, Tyler and Sean are unsung guys who will do the little things,” Johnson said.

The Knights hit the Strombom tournament in Sycamore for Thanksgiving week, beginning with Aurora Christian on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Dudzinski selects Holy Cross for hoops stop

Senior averaged 17 points, 10 boards in 2008-09 season
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland senior Dave Dudzinski made quite the tough decision on Tuesday; one that will make life tough for opposing teams in the Patriot League.

Dudzinski, a six-foot-nine center that has come into his own patrolling the floor for the Knights, verbally commited to Holy Cross for his college basketball stop.

The Crusaders are based in Worcester, Mass.

“It’s like an Ivy-League alternative,” Dudzinski said on Tuesday. “I think I fit in well with the team, and I really worked hard on all parts of my game.”

Dudzinski was also considering Loyola of Chicago and Austin Peay.

“He had a big smile on his face and glad to have this decision out of the way,” new KHS boys basketball coach Brian Johnson said. “They want to use him as a power forward that can run the floor and he’s going to develop his skills at the college level.”

The Crusaders finished second in the Patriot League a year ago.

“The schools I was looking at were similar, but I liked the coaching staff and they like what I can do,” Dudzinski said.

Holy Cross hired Sean Kearney this summer, after he served as an assistant for Notre Dame hoops.

Dudzinski came into the college process with his parents already having gone through it themselves. Father Dave and mother Barb participated in football and swimming, respectively, at Northwestern.

“The whole process is tough,” said the elder Dudzinski, who played under Dennis Green for the Wildcats. “I’m proud of him for making the decision. It’s a really strong, quality program and he’s really worked on his game.”

Meanwhile, the Kaneland boys gear up for its opening challenge, the annual Strombom Tournament which starts on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in Sycamore at the home of the Spartans.

Boys hoops going golfing in June, 2010

The Kaneland boys basketball program is set for a day of fun at their first-everl golf outing on June 11, 2010, at Bliss Creek. The golf outing has been developed to bring together athletes, parents, alumni and community business. The fundraiser will raise money for uniforms, equipment and fees for summer leagues and shootouts.

There will also be a silent auction with exciting prizes. The golf outing will be a scramble and cost $400 for a foursome and $35 for the dinner.

For more information, contact Brian Johnson at brian.johnson@kaneland.org.

Knights to return to United Center Feb. 20, 2010

The Kaneland boys’ basketball team will play Geneva High School this season at the United Center, before the Bulls game against the Philadelphia 76ers, on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $28 and will go toward admission into the Kaneland vs. Geneva game as well as the Bulls vs. 76ers game at 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at Kaneland High School through Brian Johnson at brian.johnson@kaneland.org or by calling (630) 365-5100 ext. 347.

The school said it needs to sell as many tickets as possible by Oct. 31.

Last season, Kaneland lost to Geneva on New Year’s Eve at the United Center 58-39.

Photos from last season’s game:

Information via Kaneland’s Twitter feed

KHS boys hoops holding clinic

The Kaneland High School boys’ basketball coaching staff will host a players’ clinic on Oct. 24 for 1st-8th graders in the KHS east gym. The clinic will give the players an opportunity to meet the staff and also to receive coaching on basic fundamentals of the game. Players from sixth through eighth grades will also learn more about the offensive and defensive philosophies of the high school program. Additionally, each player will participate in different games. The following is a list of the times of the clinic: grades 1-5 will meet from 9 a.m.- 10:30 a.m.; grades 6-8 will meet from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

There is no cost to participate in the clinic, but donations are welcome. Registration will take place 15 minutes prior to the start of each session. Contact Brian Johnson at brian.johnson@kaneland.org or (630)365-5100 ext. 347 with any questions.

Dudzinski a center of gravity

With one more year at Kaneland, Knight gets summer work in at court
DEERFIELD—After going to the hoop, working in the paint and jockeying for position against some of the area and nation’s best, what was Kaneland Class of 2010 basketball weapon Dave Dudzinski ready to do after play concluded on Monday in the North Shore?

“I had a really good time, but I’m glad it’s over and now I’m going to go sleep for awhile,” Dudzinski said.

The 6-foot-9 center, who is getting looks from various Division I basketball programs, participated in the fourth annual boys high school Academic All-American Showcase at Joy of the Game in Deerfield, Ill.

The camp, recognized in USA Today and grabbing the eye of college coaches throughout the country, was home to high-achieving academic players with an overall average ACT score of 27.

Dudzinski, an honor roll student, played five games over Sunday and Monday at the NCAA-certified event.

“You get to play in front of coaches here. You get such a small window and you have to make the most of it, so I felt I had to come out here and perform well,” Dudzinski said.

Even at 120 players strong, the showcase provided Dudzinski ample room to show off center skills, which included 35 points in one outing.

“I got put on a really good team,” said Dudzinski who wore jersey No. 123 on the Spurs team. “I was with some players who were really good at sharing the ball, so I was really pleased with that.”

The showcase on Sunday and Monday was only the tip of the iceberg for Dudzinski’s time in Deerfield, as he also participated in the Chicago Summer Classic at the same Joy of the Game location on Waukegan Road.

The event showcased talent from around the Midwest and was covered by local and national media that included basketball periodicals like SLAM magazine.

Dudzinski, who was on his usual AAU outpost Naperville Velocity for the Classic, also was a presence at the Indianapolis Summer Showcase last week and scored 24 points and racked up 17 rebounds against a formidable Tennessee outfit.

Dudzinski is far from done, as he also balanced summer league ball for the Kaneland Knights and is headed to Orlando for AAU Nationals from July 25-31.

The incoming senior looks to take the floor for new varsity coach Brian Johnson and capitalize on a season that saw him average over 17 points, nine rebounds and almost two blocks per game.

Despite what seems like living at the court, the center was noticed right up until the very end.

“Even though I’d been playing for a week straight, some of the coaches here really liked my athleticism. It’s just about working really hard all summer long. You need every advantage, so the athletic advantage is real important,” Dudzinski said.

PHOTO: Kaneland High School athlete Dave Dudzinski drives to the basket on Monday morning as part of an academic all-american showcase at Joy of the Game in Deerfield. Photo by Mike Slodki

What about Brian?

West Aurora import eager to get Knights rolling
MAPLE PARK—Tuesday morning had the usual cast of characters when it comes to KHS boys basketball.

Your Dudzinskis and your Bayleys were there at the East Gym, but the gray-shirted player leading the camp was a new face.

Getting in the action and giving instruction to the Kaneland players, however, made him look like he’s always been part of the fabric.

Meet Brian Johnson, the new head varsity basketball coach for the Kaneland Knights.

Johnson was offered the position last week and accepted, with the word officially coming down at the Kaneland School Board meeting on Monday. KHS sent out a press release detailing the appointment.

Johnson comes to the Knights after being a varsity assistant at West Aurora.

Johnson, who is set to teach P.E. and drivers Ed, takes over for Dennis Hansen, whose resignation was accepted after three years of coaching.

“It’s definitely a unique situation,” Johnson said. “All I can ask the guys is to make the adjustment. I don’t know what happened before 100 percent, but I can only let the guys know what I expect of them and ask them to give me their best.”

Johnson, a Sugar Grove resident, is no stranger to the court, having played at St. Edward High School and Judson College, both in Elgin, at the next level.

“We used to play Kaneland at regional time in high school. It was time to get to a place that I admired from a distance. I want to coach kids that have the type of mentality that I had as a player and work hard all the time,”Johnson said.

Johnson led the players through a two-hour camp that concludes with everyone shaking hands. A little touch that he doesn’t take complete credit for.

“I stole that from Lance Huber over at Dundee-Crown, who I had the pleasure and honor of working with for six years. It’s that blue-collar thing. We work hard, we’re still teammates, we shake it out afterwards.”

Johnson knows that the feeling-out process has to end soon and then preparation for the 2009-10 season begins.

“I know we have some players who are highly-touted. We’re going to use that to the best of our ability.

The Knights finished 13-13 in 2007-08 and lost in their opening round contest in February to Hampshire, 47-38.

Photo: New Kaneland High School varsity boys basketball head coach Brian
Johnson gets down to business during Tuesday morning’s basketball camp at KHS. Johnson, who comes over from West Aurora, will also teach P.E. and drivers ed. Photo by Mike Slodki

Search ends for Knights hoops, confirmed Monday

by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARK—Kaneland High School has completed its month-long search for a new varsity boys basketball coach.

While not divulging the name of the winning candidate for the position, KHS athletics director Leigh Jaffke confirms that the position was offered to a specific candidate and it was accepted.

The appointment needs to be confirmed at the next Kaneland School Board meeting on Monday, June 22.

A new Knights hoops head coach was hoped to be in place by the newly rescheduled boys basketball camp at KHS by Monday, June 22.

Former head coach Dennis Hansen’s resignation was accepted at the June 4 board meeting after a School Board investingation into inappropriate contact with students.

Hansen was also head coach of the Kaneland softball team.

Hansen took over the boys basketball job starting in the 2006-07 season for former coach Brian Rea.

Kaneland Board accepts coach’s resignation

by Susan O’Neill

The Kaneland School Board on Thursday voted to accept the resignation of Kaneland High School coach and teacher Dennis Hansen. The vote was 5-1 in favor of both approving the separation agreement and of accepting Hansen’s resignation.

The dissenting vote was School Board member Deborah Grant, who said her vote was “in light of recent e-mails that the district has received and in lieu of additional information that may come forth.”

Hansen had been suspended from his coaching duties on May 7 and from his teaching responsibilities on May 11. The suspensions and a subsequent investigation were based on allegations made by parents, current students and graduates regarding inappropriate behavior toward students.

The six- to eight-week investigation conducted by Kane County Sheriff’s Police Resource Officer Paul Warren and school officials on behalf of the district uncovered allegations in both the teaching and coaching realm and involved about a dozen current students and recent graduates during the past couple of years, as well as several graduates who had been students in 2001.

According to school officials, the district was not made aware of the 2001 behaviors until the recent investigation, and no information was brought forth from the years in between the two timeframes. Attorney Maureen Lemon, representing the district, said the initial allegations were brought to the resource officer.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said that none of the behavior rose to the level of requiring notification to the Department of Children and Family Services, and no laws were broken. Lemon said the investigation also looked into his previous employment in Coal City schools and found no connection with the investigation at Kaneland.

Hansen has been with the district for 12 years as a physical education and driver’s education teacher, and more recently as a coach of the varsity girl’s softball and boy’s basketball teams.

The separation agreement specifies salary and health benefits payments to Hansen, per the teacher’s contract, through Aug. 31, 2009, and includes an agreement that neither party shall litigate against the other. It also spells out the wording for any references given to future prospective employers in writing. The reference only identifies his dates of employment and that he resigned.

Although the employment reference wording is factual and neutral, School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick explained that, for those in the education industry, that wording would be considered a red flag.

McCormick said the district decided to accept the agreement offered by Hansen in lieu of further investigation and potential termination of his employment for three reasons. First, any additional action could be appealed and overturned; second, it would involve uncomfortable situations for the students, who would be subjected to cross-examination; and three, Hansen’s resignation was the ultimate outcome the board wanted.

The investigation also brought to light a whole range of policies, procedures, climate and culture that will need to be addressed with teachers, students and parents, McCormick said.

“The current technology has outstripped our ethics,” he said.

For example, coaches typically have their students’ phone numbers listed in their cell phones and will use them to text students to notify them of a game cancellation.

Sugar Grove resident and KHS graduate Jennifer Amery, who is the parent of an 8-year-old, said she was not happy with the way the situation was handled. She said that Kaneland could just be passing on its problem to another school.

“How about a big red check on his resume?” she asked.

See the June 11 edition of the Elburn Herald for additional reporting.

KHS boys hoops camp rescheduled

Due to scheduling issues, the 9th-12th grade Boys Basketball camp is being rescheduled. The new dates for the camp is June 15th through the 18th, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the High School East Gymnasium, and June 22nd through the 25th, from 8 to 10 a.m. in the High School East Gymnasium. If you have scheduled a session in this camp and need to now withdraw due to a conflict, please contact Leigh Jaffke at ext. 224 or at leigh.jaffke@kaneland.org.

Leveling the playing field

by Lynn Meredith
To put Kaneland on a more equal playing field, the district is considering becoming part of a new conference.

At an informational meeting open to the public where two community members, one student, and 20 coaches attended, the School Board heard a presentation on the reasons for switching from the Western Sun Conference to a newly formed conference with schools as far away as Dixon.

“With the new conference proposal we will still be able to compete against schools of our size and IHSA classification on our area,” Superintendent Charlie McCormick said.

The schools in the farther-reaching districts have enrollments closer in size to Kaneland’s, so presumably Kaneland could win more games than it has been able to do with Geneva, Batavia and Glenbard South, in its current conference.

“It’s in our best interests for what we have. It’s good that every school’s the same size,” head girls cross country coach Doug Ecker said. “The conference will give good competition and Kaneland kids can all compete.”

Board member Cheryl Krauspe had questions about the cost of the switch.

“Here’s the question that I continue to ask—how much is it going to cost? It will cost more to drive to Geneseo than it does to Geneva, and you know transportation is the one area where the state reimbursements are not coming in,” Krauspe said.

Financial implications will be discussed further at the regular board meeting Tuesday, May 26.

Enrollment comparison

Division #1 (new) Ottawa 1,602, LaSalle-Peru 1,280, Streator 1,030, Sterling 1,033, Dixon 969, Geneseo 914

Division #2 (new) DeKalb 1,710, Yorkville 1,295, Sycamore 1,162, Rochelle 1,116, Morris 1,075, Kaneland 1,040

WSC Geneva 1,978, Batavia 1,858, DeKalb 1,710, Glenbard South 1,421, Yorkville 1,295, Sycamore 1,162, Rochelle 1,116, Kaneland 1,040

Travel comparison from Kaneland

Proposed conference (miles) DeKalb 14, Sycamore 16.4, Yorkville 18.6, Rochelle 32.9, Morris 38.8, Ottawa 51.2, Dixon 55, Streator 67.1, Sterling 68.5, LaSalle-Peru 71.4, Geneseo 112

WSC (miles) Geneva 11.3, Batavia 12.2, DeKalb 14, Sycamore 16.4, Yorkville 18.6, Glenbard South 27.5, Rochelle 32.9

WSC seeing last days?

In the fall of 2006, Kaneland left the ashes of the Suburban Prairie Conference and joined seven other schools in the brand-new Western Sun Conference.

Now, in the spring of 2009, the Western Sun Conference looks as if its going supernova.

In late-April, Kaneland met with 11 other schools to draw up plans for a new 12-team conference that would kick off in the fall of 2010. The administration will recommend to the Kaneland School Board at the Tuesday, May 26, meeting to exit the eight-team Western Sun Conference.

Joining the exodus of the WSC with Kaneland would be DeKalb, Rochelle, Sycamore and Yorkville.

The proposed unnamed conference would also potentially include old SPC rival Morris, which is slated to join the North Central Illinois Conference in the fall. The new conference would only have Morris as an NCIC school for one year after leaving the Southwest Prairie Conference.

NCIC schools Dixon, Geneseo, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Sterling and Streator, which make up the NCIC’s Reagan Division would round out the rest of the conference.

The shift would lead Western Sun rivals Batavia, Geneva and Glenbard South looking for new conference homes.

In the Western Sun Conference, KHS ranks eighth in enrollment with 1,140. Geneva’s 1,978 was first in the group.

The new conference would have Kaneland sixth out of 12. DeKalb’s 1,710 students would be at the top of the list, while Geneseo’s 914 would be at the rear.

The conference would likely use two six-team divisions, with the WSC schools pairing up with Morris for one of the divisions.

- Have your voice heard -

Kaneland Board of Education
Special Public Workshop
Monday, May 18 • 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Kaneland High School Library

District personnel will address Kaneland’s history of conference affiliations;
several reasons why a change in conferences is being considered at this time;
and, various aspects of the option being considered.
Questions and comments from the public can be heard.
The board will not consider the recommendation for conference change until Tuesday, May 26

WSC, team honors dished at Winter Sports Awards

Last week saw Kaneland High School dole out its winter athletic awards with four sports being recognized on various levels.

In varsity girls basketball, Mallory Huml was given defensive player of the year, and Mallory Carlson was named most improved player. Katie Hatch and Sarah Rose were named co-MVP’s. Cece Anderson won the Kaneland Knight Award, and Rose was also recognized as a member of the all-Western Sun Conference team. Rose, Anderson, Hatch, Huml, Brianna Hurst, Chassidy Mangers and Alyssa Galvan were also recognized as captains.

In sophomore basketball, Jessica Stouffer and Liz Hylland took the Kaneland Knight awards, while Sydney Bilotta won defensive player. Andrea Dimmig-Potts and Katie Taylor were named co-offensive player of the year. Keara Palpant was given MVP honors.

For the freshman level, Anna Olson took the hustle award, and Katie Tolan won most improved. Christina Janes was named Queen of the Boards, while McKinzie Mangers was given the Dedication award. Kylie Siebert won the Lady Knight award.

For boys basketball, Dave Dudzinski was honored for making the All-WSC team, and was also named as the team’s offensive player of the year.

The Most Improved Player award went to the tandem of Christian Dillon and Sean Paulick. Dudzinski took the team MVP honors, and Curtis Lubic earned the defensive player of the year nod.

Brody Root, Dillon, Mike Prtichard, Lubic, Chris Ott and Joe Spitzzeri were also recognized as captains.

On the freshman level, Eric Eichelberger and Brandon Stahl earned most improved honors, while Jake Razo took home outstanding defensive player, and Jordan Jones was outatanding offensive player.

For the Lady Knights bowling team, Jessica Stebbins was given kudos for high game, high series, and high average.

Danielle Rose earned the most improved award. Emily Curran took home the coaches award and Stebbins, Curran, Kathleen Moravcik and Cassie Wilson were recognized as captains.

For wrestling, Jay Levita was named most valuable wrestler, as well as getting the Bob Domena Memorial Award for hardest worker, and was also given accolades for making the All-WSC team and State.

Jimmy Boyle took the most improved award, while Devon Scholl won the Dave Osman Award for most dedicated. Boyle was given the Russel Anderson Memorial Award, and Matt Weaver took the Heart and Soul Award.

Levita, Weaver and Scholl were also recognized as captains.

KHS dropped by Hampshire in regional

by Mike Slodki
As much as the five-game winning streak a month ago represented good times, these last three games had the look of a hard-luck end.

Wednesday, March 4, saw Hampshire beat Kaneland for the second time this season, in a 47-38 result at the Burlington Central Regional in Class 3A. Wheaton Academy then went on to defeat the Whip-purs on Friday night in Rocket-land, 47-42 to capture the regional title.

Sharp-shooting Mike Pritchard provided boosts throughout the game for the Knights and kept them in the fight with a game-high 15 points. Christian Dillon had eight and Dave Dudzinski was kept to seven points in the season finale.

“Outside of Mike, we really had no offense,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. “He kept us in the game all night long.”

Last season saw Kaneland lose in a 56-55 regional skirmish with BC to end its season.

The Knights end at 13-13 (5-9 Western Sun Conference), which is a three-game improvement from a year ago.

Throughout the game, it was evident that Hampshire was going to be effective in shutting the inside game of the Knights. Kaneland was then forced to try outside shooting, but clanked its first four tries. A feed from Dudzinski to Dillon with 1:28 remaining in the first gave KHS an 8-7 lead until Hampshire’s basket with 56 seconds in the frame sent Kaneland down 9-8.

Pritchard came to life in the second quarter and accounted for all the points by the Knights. A field goal 25 seconds into the quarter gave Kaneland a 10-9 lead. Another jumpshot with 5:47 to go tied the score at 12-12, and a fadeaway gave Kaneland a 14-12 lead with 4:20 to go before Hampshire closed the half on a 6-0 run for an 18-14 deficit. A Pritchard three-pointer with 6:27 to go closed within 20-17, but a Steve Colombe shot and a Dillon basket off the glass were the only other field goals of the quarter. The Knights trailed 28-22 with eight minutes remaining.

Dealing with several six-point leads throughout the contest, a Hampshire trey made it 31-22 just 11 seconds into the frame. Pritchard’s additional three closed it to 31-25 with 7:05 to go. Brody Root’s bucket with 6:18 remaining closed within 31-27, but Hampshire held the Knights at bay, even extending the lead to 46-36 on two free throws with 29 seconds to go.

After the conclusion of the game, Kaneland said goodbye to seniors Chris Ott, Joe Spitzzeri, Lubic, Ryan Blake, Pritchard, Root and Dillon, all of whom saw valuable time on the floor in 2008-09.

“All seven are class acts,” Hansen said. “They’re good kids, they’ve got good work ethic, and they’ve been the heart and soul of our team all year.”

Disputed ending leads to Knights loss vs. Batavia

by Mike Slodki
On Friday night, Kaneland fans thought Mike Pritchard’s impossible shot at the end of regulation was a three-pointer.

So did the Kaneland Knights, and for that matter, so did Batavia.

The only two people who’s opinion on the matter actually counted was the referees, and they ruled Pritchard’s pump-fake trey try in the face of the Batavia defense was, in fact, a two-point basket.

The ruling allowed Batavia to exit Maple Park with a 54-53 win in the regular season finale. Footage taken by the Kaneland basketball team on video-camera showed while Pritchard landed inside the three-point arc, he took off from beyond the line.

Batavia finished at 18-7 on the regular season, while Kaneland’s final matchup of the year brought its record down to 13-12 (5-9 Western Sun Conference).

While the second season is about to begin for KHS, the sting of the regular season’s finale’s in was still raw after the conclusion of Friday night.

“It’s not right, and it’s not fair to the seniors,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. “They bust their butts for four months for this night. We’ll be ticked for a while, but we need to get ready for Wednesday against Hampshire.”

Batavia’s Ben Potter had a game-high 21 points which included five three-pointers. The Bulldogs sunk 12 long range bombs on the night, compared to only four two-point buckets. David Bryant had 16 points.

Dave Dudzinski led the Knights with 19 points, while Brody Root added 10.

Up 48-44 in the fourth quarter, Potter hit a three pointer with 3:29 to go to cut it to 48-47. Dudzinski hit a twisting layup off the glass to go up 50-47 with 3:16 to go. Potter hit another shot to cut it to 50-49 with 2:11 left. Less than a minute later, Bryant was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit the ensuing foul shots to give Batavia a 52-50 lead with 1:39 to go. It was the Bulldogs’ first advantage since 3:47 remaining in the third. Dudzinski was fouled with 13:4 seconds left on a set play, but could only sink one of two free throws, and Bryant snagged the rebound and was fouled.

After Bryant hit the two opportunities and gave the Bulldogs a 54-51 lead with 12.7 seconds to go, it set in motion the final sequence.

Kaneland led and the end of the first quarter thanks to Dudzinski’s shot off the glass with 19.9 seconds left to make it 11-10.

Down 25-23 in the second quarter, Ryan Blake nailed a three-pointer with 1:31 left and Root soon followed with a coast-to-coast drive with 56.7 to go to go up 28-25 before the break.

Kaneland’s biggest lead came after a Joe Spitzzeri trifecta with 6:39 left in the third for a 31-25 lead.

The Knights were set to tangle with Hampshire on Wednesday at the Class 3A Burlington Central Regional. The second-seeded Knights last played the third-seeded (17-8) Whip-purs in a 51-44 loss on Jan. 31. KHS defeated Hampshire 51-43 on Dec. 27.

The winner faces Wheaton Academy, who beat Sycamore 66-48 on Tuesday in the regional final on Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Story Update: The Knights suffered a 47-38 loss to Hampshire at the Burlington Central Regional Wednesday night, ending their season. They finished with a final record of 13-13.

Photo: Kaneland varsity center Christian Dillon gets a rebound in the fourth quarter of their senior night game against Batavia on Friday. The game ended in a close 54-53 Kaneland loss. Photo by John DiDonna

Knights edged by rival Vikings on court

The Knights dropped a close affair to rival Geneva on Friday night at KHS by a 39-38 clip.

The Vikings swept the season series, the first loss being at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 31, 2008.

Kaneland’s record dropped to 13-11 (5-8 Western Sun Conference).

The loss stopped Kaneland’s five-game win streak.

Mike Pritchard scored a game-high 15 points, the first time he found himself at the top of the list this season. Dave Dudzinski had 10. The Knights were 8-for-12 from the foul line.

Kaneland led 9-6 after one quarter, but fell behind the Vikings by a 22-17 margin at the halftime buzzer. While Kaneland closed within 30-26 after three quarters, Geneva won on two free throws by Christian Frederking with 1.5 seconds left. Dudzinski’s free throws with 15.8 ticks left gave Kaneland a one-point lead that failed to hold up.

Sophomore action had Geneva beating the Knights 47-37. Zach Ringhouse had 11 points to lead KHS.

For Kaneland, the final regular season game is Friday, Feb. 27, against the Batavia Bulldogs. Batavia comes into the contest at 17-7.

After the end of the regular season, Kaneland starts prepping for the IHSA Class 3A playoffs.
Wednesday, March 4, has KHS (second seed) face Hampshire (3) at 7:30 p.m. The winner will face Wheaton Academy, Sycamore or Burlington Central in the regional title game in Burlington on Friday, March 6.

Photo: Ryley Bailey tries to avoid the traffic of Sycamore’s defense during the Knights’ victory on Feb. 13. The Knights look to end their regular season on a high note and host Batavia on Friday, Feb. 27. Photo by John DiDonna

Knight boys make good on road trip; now 13-10

by Mike Slodki
Suddenly, the Knight boys basketball team is not one opposing teams want to face.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

With a 57-45 non-conference win at Marmion Academy in Aurora on Saturday, and a 63-54 Western Sun Conference win at Sycamore, coach Dennis Hansen’s Knights are now 13-10, having won five in a row.
KHS is now 5-7 in conference play.

Sycamore fell to 8-13.

Against the Cadets, center weapon Dave Dudzinski scored 20 points, Brody Root added 14 and Ryley Bailey had 12 of his own.

The Knights trailed 8-7 after one quarter, but had a monster second quarter and outscored the Cadets 21-14 for a 28-22 halftime lead.

Kaneland increased its lead to 42-32 after three before closing it out.

Against the Spartans, Dudzinski had 26 points, which matched the game-high of Sycamore’s Michael Buckner. Christian Dillon added 14 of his own.

“We’re playing really well and just trying to get the ball to Christian and Dave,” Mike Pritchard said. “If they’re double-teamed, we’re making a lot of outside shots.”

Up 9-8 in the first quarter, Ryan Blake hit a three pointer with 1:05 remaining for a four-point edge. After the Spartans hit a bucket with 51.2 remaining, Root came back with the final basket of the frame with 38.3 to go for a 14-10 lead.

When Root hit another jumper 59 seconds into the second quarter for a 16-10 lead, Sycamore went on a 7-1 run to tie the score at 17 with 4:46 remaining. Dudzinski hit a shot in the lane and Curtis Lubic soon followed with a bucket to retake the lead at 21-17 with 3:47 to go. After Buckner hit a free throw with 1:53 to go, Dudzinski hit two more shots, the last with 6.1 seconds to go for a 25-18 halftime edge.

Two buckets by Dillon and one by Dudzinski increased the lead to 31-20 with 6:14 to go. With two baskets by Root, Kaneland earned its biggest lead of the night at 39-26 with 2:56 to go.

Dillon’s bucket with 1:26 to go in the frame made it 43-31 before Will Strack’s three-point play and a Buckner free throw closed the third-quarter scoring at 43-35.

Sycamore continued to fight back on its home floor, even cutting the deficit to 49-43 on a Strack three with 3:39 to go. Kaneland tempered the attack with a Dudzinski field goal and a Blake shot to add some breathing room at 53-43 with 2:53 to go.

Dillon, Root and Dudzinski all saw time at the foul line to add to the total before the final buzzer.

“We’re all pointing toward regionals right now,” Hansen said. “We just have to keep playing the way we’ve been playing. Tonight we played all man-to-man. It worked so well that we stayed with it.”

Only two more regular season contests are in the way before the Class 3A regionals start at Burlington Central, with Hampshire the Knights’ opponents.

KHS goes up against Geneva in Maple Park on Friday, Feb. 20.

Photo: Mike Pritchard directs a pass during Friday’s nine-point win at Sycamore. Photo by John DiDonna

Knight boys work over foes for 3 straight wins

by Mike Slodki
When the Knights basketball squad struggles, according to coach Dennis Hansen, they really struggle.

The same could be said when they stack wins, case in point this past week.

Kaneland saw its mark improve to 11-10 with a 4-7 record in Western Sun Conference play; this after taking care of host Yorkville on Friday in a 53-35 affair, and stumped Sycamore 68-50 at home on Saturday before hammering visiting Marengo on Tuesday 56-34.

“Our mental state was kind of bad before we started winning, but we started stepping up and executing a lot better,” Hansen said.

Against the Foxes, Dave Dudzinski had 15 points and Christian Dillon added nine. Kaneland’s victory came despite the Knights going just 13-for-27 from the free throw line.

Kaneland outscored YHS 12-7 in the first and maintained a 19-14 lead at the half. Kaneland ran roughshod on Yorkville in the third and led 32-17 at the end of the frame.

Dudzinski had a pivotal game vs. the Spartans as he poured in 28 points from the floor, while teammate Ryan Blake added 14.

KHS led 18-15 after the first quarter but trailed 29-26 at the half before turning it on the third quarter to go up 42-41. The Knights’ 26-9 fourth quarter sealed the deal.

Kaneland’s night against the visiting Indians started out with a flurry of baskets by Mike Pritchard and Dudzinski to go up 9-0 four minutes, 24 seconds into the contest.

The host offense found more paydirt with a basket from Dillon, two foul shots by Dudzinski and a three-pointer by Blake for a 16-2 lead with 1:48 remaining. The Knights led 16-6 after one quarter. Another trey by Blake increased the lead to 19-6 just 53 seconds into the next frame. Ryley Bailey’s three-point shot gave Kaneland its biggest lead of the half at 28-9 with 1:44 to go before the margin reached 30-12 at the end of the half.

Up 39-20 in the third quarter, Pritchard got a putback, Steve Colombe hit a three and Pritchard nailed the back-end of a trip to the foul line to go up 45-20 with 1:17 left in the third. KHS led 45-22 after the buzzer. The Knights went scoreless from 1:17 in the third until 3:52 in the fourth when Dudzinski hit a foul shot.

“I think we did what we had to do and played good, solid defense and just held onto it the whole game,” Hansen said on Tuesday.

While Dudzinski had a solid 15 points, he played just a little over half the game, allowing for needed rest, and passed the ball when needed after constant double-and-triple teaming.

“If they’re going to do that, I have confidence in these guys. We did what we had to do, spread the ball around and make shots,” Dudzinski said.

Eleven Knights reached the scoring column against the Indians.

The sophomores also defeated Marengo 44-37.

The Knights have their next challenge on Friday, Feb. 13, at Sycamore, and also travel to Aurora on Valentine’s Day to face Marmion Academy.