Tag Archives: Chaon Denlinger

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.

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.

KHS Knights win lucky 7th in a row

by Mike Slodki
YORKVILLE—Judging from the score by quarters, you could argue Yorkville outplayed the Knights boys basketball squad on Friday night.

However, the Knights outplayed the host Foxes with a vengeance for the first eight minutes, and showed grit in the final quarter, holding on to the lead.

When the final buzzer bellowed, the Knights emerged with a 53-52 win, offsetting the damage from last month’s win by the Foxes in Maple Park.

“They want you to play fast and make you turn the ball over,” KHS coach Brian Johnson, “Early on, we were on fire and we caught them off-guard a little. They put on the pressure and we started turning the ball over.”

With the win, Kaneland improved to 16-8 with a 7-2 record in Northern Illinois Big XII play. KHS has just one regular season game to go before the playoffs arrive.

Remarkably, since three losses from Jan. 11-18, Kaneland has now won seven contests in a row.

A relatively balanced scoring column had Chaon Denlinger with 13 points (three three-pointers) and Daniel Helm with 10 points, most from close range.

A potential saving grace for the Knights was an 11-for-16 night from the foul line.

The sophomore boys continued their campaign with a 51-46 takedown of Yorkville on Friday. The team has now won 23 of 24 games and 11 of 12 NIB-12 games, which wraps up the NIB-12 title.

The varsity contest got off to a blazing start as baskets by Denlinger, Helm and Drew David helped Kaneland get out to a 25-5 lead with 1:31 remaining in the first.

Kaneland had a 25-7 lead heading into the second quarter when points were a tad harder to come by.

The only field goal by the Knights in the second frame was a basket by Trever Heinle with 3:12 left to give Kaneland a 27-17 lead. Yorkville had closed the deficit before halftime to 29-21.

With a Denlinger bucket, the Knights’ lead grew to 34-25 with 3:31 to go, but Yorkville’s basket with five seconds left in the third cut the lead to 39-35.

With under two minutes to go and the Knights clinging to a 49-46 lead, a Heinle basket increased the lead to 51-46 with 1:34 to go in regulation.

A Yorkville bucket with 59.5 ticks left closed the margin to three, and another shot closed to within 51-50 with 27.2 remaining.

Zach Ringhouse was fouled and hit two foul shots with 13.1 to go.

“Coach was telling us not to turn the ball over,” Ringhouse said. “When we did do that, he told us to calm down and stay focused. I just wanted to stay as calm as possible and hit a few free throws.”

With a 53-50 lead and time running out, Yorkville’s flurry yielded a putback with 1.1 seconds to go, but the game ended at 53-52.

“We were just able to execute down the stretch. We turned the ball over some, but that’ll happen against a team like Yorkville,” Johnson said.

The lone game for Kaneland is for Northern Illinois Big XII East supremacy, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 25, in Rochelle at 7 p.m.

HIGH-OCTANE
Out of the highest point totals for individual quarters this season, the now red-hot Knights have put up two high marks in the last two games.

Jan. 28 (4th Q) 27 points
Feb. 15 (4th Q) 26 points
Feb. 18 (1st Q) 25 points

Boys hoops engineer regular season sweep of Barbs, defeat Streator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rivalry Saturday tips to Kaneland boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHS says never say die against Rochelle, beats Geneseo

Photo: Knight Zach Ringhouse provided a needed spark with a 16-point display during the 65-63 comeback win over Rochelle. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—After the hysterics of Friday night, it was conceivable the Knights would have a letdown.

Instead, Kaneland basketball defeated crossover rival Geneseo in Maple Park on Saturday afternoon, 54-45, after coming back from a 19-point deficit against road opponent Rochelle on Friday and winning 65-63.

KHS now sits at 12-8 (4-2 Northern Illinois Big XII), exactly where it was a year ago after 20 contests played.

Facing Geneseo, Daniel Helm and Zach Ringhouse both paced Kaneland with a game-high 16 points. KHS also helped its cause by hitting 17-of-20 shots from the foul line. Ringhouse was eight-for-eight from the line.

The Knights went out to a 15-11 lead after one and 33-22 at the halftime. The lead remained steady at 45-34 heading into the final frame.

Lined up against NIB-12 East rival Rochelle, Helm led the team with 16 points, followed by Ringhouse with 14, Trever Heinle with 13 and Kory Harner with 10.

Rochelle’s sharpshooter Matt Rosenwinkel had a game-high 22.

The game looked early on like one with its share of points, and after Harner’s bucket with 1:09 to go in the first gave the Knights a 15-13 edge, Rochelle’s perimiter game took over.

The Hubs hit their sixth consecutive shot attempt with 30.2 ticks left to take a 19-15 lead and bring the first frame to an end.

Kaneland struggled in the second quarter, hitting only three shots from the field and saw Rochelle stretch its lead to 31-21 by the halftime buzzer.

Rochelle expanded its lead in the third quarter at 46-27 with 2:51 to go, its largest of the game. With 1:16 remaining in the third, Rochelle went up 50-33 before a basket by Harner and a shot by Ringhouse closed it to 50-38 at the end of the quarter.

That set the stage for a fourth quarter that had KHS outscore Rochelle 27-13.

Kaneland brought its clutch play in the early stages, using a Ringhouse trey, a Heinle pair of foul shots, two Helm baskets and a Chaon Denlinger basket to close within 54-49 in a space of 1:27.

Heinle connected on a bucket with 3:34 to go, closing it to 56-55 and giving the Knights faithful a reason to believe.

Rochelle got to the foul line and converted on its shots, increasing its lead to 62-57 with 1:11 remaining.

Denlinger sunk two foul shots to make it 62-59 wth 53.3 to go, while Rochelle hit the second of two shots from the line to go up 63-59 with 28.5 ticks left.

Ringhouse sunk a rainbow from long distance to make it 63-62 with 19.5 remaining.

Then, Heinle stole the ball from the Hubs and put it in to go up 64-63 with 13.5 left, taking the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

“We wanted to get a trap in the corner, and that’s what we did,” Heinle said. “ I got the steal, went up strong and put the game away. Coach told us to work on three things before the game: rebounding, taking care of the ball and defensive intensity, and in the second half we did that and pulled it out.”

But Rochelle quickly got the ball down the court for a lay-up try that missed. Helm was soon fouled and went to the line and made one of two for a 65-63 lead with 3.2 left, and the clock ran out after a scramble on the floor.

“We got a spark with Zach Ringhouse, and we were able to cut it to 11 and we got some confidence,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We played with a lot of passion and a lot of heart, and I give them a lot of credit.”

Kaneland now gears up for Saturday, Feb. 5, against Sycamore at 4:30 p.m.

Boys hoops now 9-8 on year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nine-win Knights take BC, taken by 2 others


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHS boys split final 2 games in Plano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights use last-second heroics for win

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

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

It’s the last moment that counted the most.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisler paced DeKalb with 17 points.

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

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

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

48th Annual
Plano Christmas Classic

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

Knights block Spartans, Royals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys beat Morris, lose to GS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHS ends strong at Strombom; begins 2-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHS journey ends

Photo: Dave Dudzinski (file photo).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights beat bulldogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Batavia finished 17-8 in regular season play.

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

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

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

Jesse Coffey led the Bulldogs with 11.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United They Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights sink Sycamore on Williams basket, 48-46

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

He let his shot do the talking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Knight boys handled by Rochelle, Hampshire

by Mike Slodki
Boys basketball hit a week’s worth of struggles, but the silver lining is that there remains time to emerge from it on a high note.

On Friday night, Rochelle defeated the host Knights in a 69-59 affair that featured a combined 65 foul shots for both squads.

KHS followed that up with a Saturday afternoon loss at the new Hampshire High School gym, 51-44.

The Knights are now 8-10 with a 2-7 record in Western Sun Conference play.

Dave Dudzinski had 31 points vs. the Hubs, including going 19-for-22 from the foul line.

Andy Wilkinson had a stellar night for Rochelle, going 15-for-16 from the line and ending up with 38 points.

Rochelle led 14-11 after one and Kaneland came back to tie the score at 27 all at halftime. Rochelle led 47-41 after three before cinching it in the fourth.

In lower class action, Rochelle defeated the sophomores 51-43.

Against the Whip-purs, Dudzinski had 15 points, while Christian Dillon had 10.

The Knights saw themselves get out to a hot start highlighted by four straight successful shots to go up 9-8, and a Chris Ott three-pointer with 4:31 to play in the quarter to go up 12-8.

Hampshire recovered and took advantage of 10 straight missed shots by KHS. The Whip-purs had an 11-0 run go their way and led 19-12 at the end of the frame.

Chaon Denlinger hit two foul shots with 5:22 to go and Dudzinski hit two more with 3:09, but by the time the center hit the Knights’ first field goal of the quarter with 2:07 remaining, KHS was down 21-18.

Hampshire led 24-20 at the half.

Both teams traded baskets in the third quarter, and while Dudzinski cut the Hampshire lead to 31-30, Hampshire scored the last eight points to go up 39-30 after three.

Hampshire hit seven of eight foul shots to pad their lead, and Denlinger cut the lead to 49-44 with 29.4 left, but it was too late.

“We were trying to get inside all game, and they were really clamping down,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. “They forced us to shoot, and we weren’t shooting very well. There were a lot of missed shots and we got behind.”

Kaneland takes its attack to Yorkville on Friday, Feb. 6, and hosts Sycamore on Saturday, Feb. 7.

Loss to DeKalb drops boys hoops to .500

by Mike Slodki
DeKalb boys basketball is surging lately, and not even Kaneland could stand in their way on Friday night.

Kaneland fell victim to DeKalb’s defense and struggled to find its own offensive groove in the 50-37 loss.

DeKalb has gone on a tear after starting out 0-4 this season. They have now won nine contests in a row to improve to 11-6 (6-1 Western Sun Conference). Kaneland fell to 8-8 with a 2-5 mark in the Western Sun Conference.

For Kaneland, Dave Dudzinski had 13 points and Mike Pritchard added seven. Dudzinski’s post nemesis Jordan Threloff had a game-high 20.

“We took poor shots and didn’t make shots,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. “For the most part, we played pretty good defense, but then we got behind and we had to force the issue. DeKalb’s quick, and we needed to contain them.”

Kaneland’s evening began with seven of its first nine shots missing, but did gather four steals to keep DeKalb from extending its 8-4 lead after the first eight minutes.

A three-pointer by Ryan Blake and a baseline jumper by Chaon Denlinger closed to within 10-9 with 6:20 to go.

As the defensive battle continued, Dudzinski hit a jumper with 5:01 to go in the half to close within 15-11. Dudzinski’s three-point play and two foul shots by Pritchard chiseled into the Barbs’ lead at halftime, 19-16.

The third quarter went all Barbs as they outscored KHS 16-9 while setting the tone with their defense. DeKalb scored the first seven points of the quarter before Pritchard’s three with 5:11 left made it 26-19.

Kaneland fell behind 33-21 before Dudzinski’s two free throws with 59 seconds to go closed within 10. DeKalb led after three 35-25.

Ryley Bailey’s three-pointer with 5:26 to go made a game of it again at 35-31, but DeKalb’s 13-3 run, which concluded with a Threloff pair of foul shots with 1:02 left, cinched matters.

“When you struggle putting the ball in the basket and score 37 points, you can’t win,” Hansen said. Kaneland is now 0-8 when scoring under 50 points.

In sophomore action, the Knights dropped a 57-42 result to visiting DeKalb on Thursday.

Taylor Andrews had 11 points, and Omarr Maldonado and Zach Ringhouse had 10 each.

The Knights host Rochelle in a WSC clash on Friday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. and visit Hampshire at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Photo: Christian Dillon tries driving past DeKalb force Jordan Threloff during Friday’s home loss to DeKalb. Photo by John DiDonna

Boys hoops getting big performances

KHS follows loss at Batavia with wins over BC, Rochelle

by Mike Slodki

Knights boys basketball wants this to keep going.

Not the snow, but the conference and nonconference wins alike.

KHS came back on Tuesday night at Rochelle 64-59.

Kaneland also found momentum throughout a 65-51 win vs. Burlington Central on Saturday, after succumbing to Batavia on the road, 54-38.

The Knights saw their record improve to 8-6, with a 2-4 mark in the Western Sun Conference.

Christian Dillon came through at the home of the Hubs with 17 points, followed by Brody Root with 14, which included an 8-for-8 night from the line, and Dave Dudzinski had 13 on the night.

The Knights started off with a 17-13 lead after the first eight minutes, but fell behind 30-25 at halftime. Kaneland closed within 37-33 before the final fourth quarter rally.

Dave Dudzinski had 16 points against the Rockets, while Mike Pritchard had 11 and Ryan Blake had 10.

Matt McCurdy led BC with 13.

The Knights went with a slightly different lineup to start matters with Steve Colombe, Joe Spitzzeri, Chaon Denlinger, Brody Root and Dudzinski, and it yielded benefits.

“We had a lot of guys step up tonight,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said. “We made some shots early and made the easy baskets.”

Burlington Central enjoyed an early 12-8 lead before Curtis Lubic nailed a shot with 51.7 seconds to go, cutting the lead to two.

The final sequence of the first frame had Lubic snare a steal and pull up for a successful three-pointer at the buzzer to go up 13-12 after one.

During a second quarter run, Dudzinski had a steal and six points which helped the Knights go up 26-19 with 4:40 to play in the half.

A shot by Christian DIllon and three consecutive buckets by Ryan Blake keyed a 9-0 run and a 35-19 lead with 2:47 to go before the Knights went into the locker room up 37-21.

The Knights increased their lead to 45-23 in the third quarter on a Denlinger lay-in with 2:06 remaining. Kaneland led 45-27 at the end of the third. The fourth quarter had Kaneland hitting seven out of eight shots down the stretch to cinch the win.

“We matched up well with Burlington Central,” Christian Dillon (6 points) said. “That second quarter was great and we really spread it out. Everyone got into the game.”

Against the formidable Bulldogs, Dudzinski had 19 points to lead Kaneland in a losing effort.

Batavia had an 11-8 lead after one and 24-22 after two. Kaneland fell victim to a third quarter that went 15-6 in Batavia’s favor before a 15-10 fourth quarter destroyed the Knights’ chances.

Lower class action had the sophomore boys lost a triple overtime game to Burlington Central on Saturday,79-73,falling to 2-10. Taylor Andrews led the Knights with 18 points, while Andrew O’Herron had 13.

On Friday night, Kaneland lost 50-23 to Batavia.

Rochelle handled the sophomores on Tuesday night, 38-31

Kaneland hopes to extend its winning ways on the varsity slate with a trip to Glenbard South on Friday, Jan. 16.

DeKalb causes giant headache for KHS boys

by Mike Slodki

            On Friday, the phrase “watch out for that tree” might have been an understatement.

            Whatever the catch phrase, the Kaneland boys basketball roster might have felt they had to weave through a jungle to score any points.

            DeKalb handed Kaneland a stifling 59-37 loss at the home of the Barbs, dropping the Knights to 2-3 (0-2 Western Sun Conference). DeKalb earned its first win of the season at 1-5.

            DeKalb’s Jordan “Tree” Threloff was one half of the marquee matchup in the WSC battle with fellow center Dave Dudzinski, but it was the Barb who ended up winning the points battle 26-6.

“(Threloff) is a good player and he’s well coached, we might need to work harder to get Dudzinski the ball,” KHS coach Dennis Hansen said.

            Ryley Bailey had nine points to lead the Knights, while Dudzinski, Brody Root and Chaon Denlinger had six points each. Bailey’s points came on three three-pointers.

            The Knights went 5-for-6 from the foul line.

            DeKalb stormed out to a 10-2 advantage in the first quarter forcing Hansen to call time out with 1:38 left in the first quarter. Two baskets by Denlinger closed within 10-6 before DeKalb scored once more with 1.2 seconds to go for a 12-6 lead after one.

            Two Dudzinski foul shots closed within 20-13 in the second quarter with 1:44 left but the offense stalled once again and DeKalb scored two more baskets to go up 24-13 at halftime.

            Kaneland’s luck started to improve on a Bailey three and a Denlinger basket which closed to within 31-26 with 2:17 left in the third. However, Kaneland went as cold as oncoming tempuratures and missed seven straight shots. DeKalb took a 41-26 lead after three and hit a three to complete a 13-0 run ending in the fourth.

            “13 points in the first half is not going to get it done. You have to make open shots which we didn’t do all night,” Hansen said.

            The boys have a short break before traveling to Rochelle on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

            Additionally, word became official that the Kaneland boys will meet up with the Geneva Vikings in play at the United Center in Chicago on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

            Tip-off is set for 8:45 a.m. Fans are able to buy tickets for $23 and also watch the Bulls take on the Orlando Magic at 1 p.m. Tickets need to be purchased by Wednesday, Dec. 17. The Western Sun Conference clash will be the first of 12 high school games this season taking place before Bulls contests. The game takes the place of the Tuesday, January 6, 2009 game at Geneva.

KHS boys basketball ready to deal with season’s challenges

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Knights return 10 in effort to bounce back from 10-17 season

by Mike Slodki

            Beginning at the Strombom Tournament at Sycamore High School on Tuesday, Nov. 25, the first sight for opponents of Kaneland boys basketball will be the junior in the middle, Dave Dudzinski.

            But opponents will need to be on the lookout for the tenacity and shooting touch that led to victories against schools like Yorkville in overtime, a 29-point comeback at Geneva and a last-second regional win vs. Sandwich.

            With 10 returnees supplanting the loss of personnel like Nick Wagner and Kevin Green, Kaneland could be prime for significant improvement from last year’s 10-17 record (6-8 Western Sun Conference).

            Dudzinski averaged 12 points and seven rebounds a game as a center threat, and spent part of the summer in Orlando, Fla. as part of an AAU Nationals exhibition.

            “His sophomore year was good, and we expect even bigger things this year. We’re hoping we get a big year out of him,” third-year coach Dennis Hansen said on Tuesday.

            Seniors on the squad include Chris Ott at guard and guard Joe Spitzerri making his comeback from X-linked lymphoproliferative disease, an immune disorder. Other seniors include guard Curtis Lubic, guard Ryan Blake, forward Mike Pritchard, guard Brody Root and forward Christian Dillon.

            Juniors are guard Ryley Bailey, guard Donovan Williams, forward Steve Colombe, forward Sean Paulick, new addition junior Pat Fleming and Dudzinski.

            The lone sophomore on the squad is Chaon Denlinger.

            With rosters set a little over a week ago, Kaneland boys basketball is working on its game in the trenches.

            “So far, it’s been a lot of conditioning and defensive stuff. They’re familiar with what we do,” said Hansen, who has John Pavlak as assistant coach. “Biggest thing with this group is being consistent, which was a problem last year.”

            The players can put what they’ve learned and rehashed starting against Harlem High School of Machesney Park at the Thanksgiving tradition, the Strombom Tournament. Hansen looks for the experience to be useful.

            “I think so, it’s loaded with talented teams every year. It’ll have good solid ballclubs, and it’ll serve as a measuring stick,” Hansen said.

            Any early-season test to prove Kaneland’s mettle could send the Knights on their way to Western Sun success.

            “It seems to be wide open; Glenbard South and Batavia seem to have the advantage right now. Rochelle is a solid club. It’s wide open, and we hope to be there at the top,” Hansen said.

            The first slated conference battle is on Tuesday, Dec. 2, vs. Glenbard South, with the final regular season contest vs. Geneva on Friday, Feb. 20, 2009.