Photo: Ryley Bailey (10) tries weaving around Bataviaâ€™s defense in the first quarter of the Knightsâ€™ 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
BATAVIAâ€”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 schoolsâ€™ history marked Kanelandâ€™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 Pritchardâ€™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.
â€œItâ€™s definitely a great accomplishment to beat Batavia,â€ Colombe said. â€œCoach Johnson preached resilience today, and we needed the execution down the stretch.â€
Also provided was a little relief that the same situation from last yearâ€™s regular season finale didnâ€™t happen this season.
â€œYeah, at least it didnâ€™t come down to that tonight and we put it away early,â€ 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.
â€œItâ€™s such a great program with a great coach, and I hope Kaneland can get there at some point,â€ Johnson said. â€œWe talked before the game about having resilience and being able to handle the ups and downs.â€
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 Callaghanâ€™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 Williamsâ€™ 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-pursâ€™ 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.