Photo: Senior Tyler Carlson was named co-Player of the Year for the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference. Fellow seniors Drew David and John Pruett also made the all-conference squad. File Photos
Knight boys see sectional berth pay off
KANELAND—It wasn’t the end of the good times for Kaneland boys basketball last week, even with the season-ending loss to Rockford Lutheran.
On Thursday, the Northern Illinois Big XII All-Conference list was released, featuring three unanimous first-team selections from the Knight roster.
Seniors Tyler Carlson, Drew David and John Pruett were all named to the first team in the East division. Carlson was also named as co-Player of the Year.
“Tyler Carlson had a very good season. He had the best season in my tenure at Kaneland since David Dudzinski,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.
Other East first team selections included Morris junior Austin Patterson, Sycamore seniors Devin Mottet (co-Player of the Year) and Ben Niemann, DeKalb junior Rudy Lopez and Yorkville junior Kyle Shimp.
Knight senior Cole Carlson’s senior campaign resulted in an honorable mention for the All-Conference list.
Note: Carlson will also be competing in this weekend’s Three-Point Showdown at Carver Arena in Peoria, Ill., as part of the IHSA 3A and 4A State finals. Preliminary round shooting begins on Thursday, March 20, at 5 p.m.
Carlson, who put up 70 points combined in regional final and sectional semifinal action, emerged with Belvidere’s Maurice Jackson, Burlington Central’s Drew Wiss and Marian Central Catholic’s Kyler Hardie out of the Hampshire Sectional as qualifiers.
One of 32 3A competitors, Carlson is joined by fellow NIB-12 competitors Patterson of Morris and Zach Rehmert of Sterling, Ill.
Sectional semi loss follows David’s buzzer-beater for Regional crown
KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball set the bar pretty high for Tuesday evening’s Hampshire Sectional semifinal against fellow No. 1 seed Rockford Lutheran.
After all, how could a team top a 62-60 Kaneland Regional final from Friday night that saw Drew David’s 20-footer go in as the buzzer sounded, prodding the KHS faithful to storm the court?
For the first 16 minutes of play in Hampshire on Tuesday night, it seemed like KHS would top the weekend and write a ticket to the sectional championship on Friday, up 37-26 at the break.
But a 31-11 third quarter in favor of RL put Kaneland in a deep hole. The Knights were able to cut it to two before RL ran away in a 76-61 win.
Kaneland finishes the 2013-14 season at 18-10. Rockford Lutheran was set to face the winner of Wednesday’s Marian Central Catholic-Sycamore contest.
Tyler Carlson put up 38 points against the Crusaders, with John Pruett adding 15 in the losing cause.
“At halftime, we were real excited,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “The kids were pumped, and I almost think it crept into their mind like ‘we’re going to win this game’. Against a team like Rockford Lutheran, who are very well-coached and has so many guys who can put it in the hole, you just can’t have that mentality.”
Down 19-11 in the first, Pruett made a putback and Carlson managed a three-point play to close it to 19-16 with 28.4 seconds left to close the scoring.
Midway through the second quarter, the Crusaders sunk a trey to take a 26-25 lead with 4:51 to go, but KHS went on a torrid 12-0 run capped by a Carlson three with 12.8 to go.
Fueled by six straight made shots in a row, RL would turn a 41-33 hole into a 57-47 edge before a Carlson free throw with 3.2 ticks left in the frame made it 57-48 going into the fourth.
KHS had one last run left in it, with four free throws from Carlson and Pruett and a trifecta from Carlson to close within 57-55 with 5:51 remaining. However, RL stormed further out into the lead with a 14-0 run to go up 71-55 with 1:58 to go, cinching the game.
Despite the season-ending setback, Johnson could appreciate Knight postseason performances like Carlson’s two-game explosion.
“(Carlson) was just outstanding. You could tell he was determined. It’s not something that comes easy for Ty; he worked really hard,” Johnson said.
Carlson, who put up 30 points against the Cadets, was no stranger to the close contests with the Aurora rival, having himself sunk two foul shots with under two ticks left to beat Marmion on Jan. 14.
“I can’t say enough about my teammates; they were playing awesome,” Carlson said. “Drew hitting that shot? That kid’s clutch.”
In the Friday setting that revealed the Knights’ second regional plaque in three seasons. Marmion led early 14-4 before Kaneland put in the next six points to close within 14-10.
Eight key foul shots by Carlson, including four on a technical foul, along with two Pruett foul shots helped supply an eight-point advantage. Marmion hit a shot with 7.3 left to close it to 34-28 before halftime.
The Cadets owned the third quarter, outscoring the Knights 18-8. Carlson’s bucket with 3:03 left in the frame gave Kaneland a 42-39 lead, but Marmion put up the last seven points in the quarter to head to the fourth up 46-42.
While Marmion was a flawless 8-for-8 from the foul line in the fourth, Kaneland held its own. Pruett’s putback and free throw managed to tie the game with 2:17 at 56-56. Two foul shots by the Cadets with 1:53 left lifted the visitors to a 58-56 lead. A floater by Cole Carlson followed with 1:40 to go to tie matters again. David hit free throws with 42.3 left for a 60-58 lead, and Ryan David’s chance to up the lead with two foul shots of his own came up empty.
“(Drew) makes those two free throws, he makes the game winner. I say it all the time, he’s a four-year starter, captain, an All-State football player. You come to expect those things out of him,” Johnson said.
Cadet Jordan Glasgow hit a shot attempt with 10.5 left, paving the way for Tyler Carlson to dribble up and haphazardly pass to David just inside the arc for the game-winner.
“This is something that not a lot of people get to do, and for us to do it especially the way that we did, it’s insane,” David said. “It’s something that I’ll never forget. It’s awesome.”
There wasn’t a lot of time to think once the game was deadlocked again.
“We wanted to get a stop. We thought we could win it on the defensive end. Once they got a bucket, everything just kind of went crazy,” David said.
After the loss to Rockford Lutheran, Kaneland says goodbye to seniors David, Pruett, Tom Van Bogaert, Tyler Carlson, Eric Przbylski and Cole Carlson.
Photos from Kaneland/Marmion game (by Patti Wilk):
Photos from Kaneland/Rockford Lutheran game (by Patti Wilk):
Photo: Senior Drew David was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line on his way to a team-high 22 points against Glenbard South Tuesday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Share of NIB-12 title in bag, Kaneland begins Regional quest
KANELAND—Say this for Kaneland High School boys basketball: they’re playing a brand of ball that works at the right juncture of the season.
With a furious fourth quarter on Tuesday night, KHS was able to defend its No. 1 Regional seed with an 81-70 win over former conference rival Glenbard South.
With a regular season-ending win over the visiting DeKalb Barb in Maple Park on Friday, 57-55, the Knights were able to secure a triple-share of the Northern Illinois Big XII title. KHS shares it with Morris and Sycamore and has now captured at least a share of the East Division three of the last four years.
Kaneland (17-9, 7-3 NIB12) has won seven of nine after Tuesday’s Regional semifinal clash with Glenbard South.
For the Kaneland Regional, Monday’s contests featured No. 4 Glenbard South winning 88-57 over No. 5 Aurora Central Catholic and No. 3 Marmion Academy beating No. 6 IMSA 85-51. Kaneland’s Regional final opponent was to be determined in a Wednesday night game between No. 2 St. Francis of Wheaton, Ill., and Marmion. Kaneland will now face Marmion in the Regional final, after the Cadets dispatched St. Francis of Wheaton, Ill. 73-57.
Facing off against the Metro Suburban Conference rep Raiders, Kaneland withstood a game-high 30 points from senior point guard Chaun Rickette. Helping withstand the onslaught was a team-high 22 points for guard Drew David, 20 from sophomore Dylan Vaca and 16 from Ryan David.
“(GS) plays in a nice league; I think they were second,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “(Rickette) can really get to the bucket. I’m just happy the boys fought through their runs, and we were able to compete.”
After an even first quarter that saw Kaneland up 18-17, GS hit six of seven shots in an impressive stretch and took a 34-33 lead on KHS. A baseline jumper by Drew David with 1:19 to go was followed by a long-range bucket by the senior with 1:01 left for a 37-34 lead. Rickette hit the front end of two foul shot tries with 41.3 left in the half to close the scoring at 37-35.
The Raiders would take a five-point lead at 54-49 after a Rickette steal and hoop with 1:08 left in the third, but Ryan David’s trey with 40 seconds left brought it back to a manageable 54-52 deficit preceding the fourth.
The fourth quarter began with David tying the game just 15 seconds in and GS taking the lead again with 6:44 to go at 56-54. Vaca was fouled on a successful three try and sunk the foul shot for the go-ahead attempt, and David jacked a three for a quick turnaround and a 61-56 lead with 5:54 left. John Pruett’s putback and a Vaca foul shot completed a 10-0 run and made it 64-56 with 4:40 to go.
KHS would hit seven of nine foul shots the rest of the way and see a barrage of four made shots in a row by Pruett, Ryan David, Vaca and Ryan David once again as the hosts enjoyed their biggest lead of the night at 77-64.
“Some teams would look at that and think they’re not very good, but we knew they were very talented, especially after watching them (Monday),” Drew David said. “We knew we were going to have to play a really solid game.”
Against the visiting Barbs, who beat the Knights on Feb. 4, 76-70, Kaneland was led by Pruett’s 13, Cole Carlson’s 12 and Drew David’s 12. David’s output came entirely thanks to four three-point shots.
Kaneland led 20-16 after the first quarter and 33-30 at the halftime buzzer. The Knights maintained a 48-45 lead going into the final eight minutes of play.
With the season now in full survive-and-advance mode, the Class 3A Regional championship is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Photo: Senior Cole Carlson hit this double-clutch jumpshot as time expired in the first half Saturday vs. Sycamore. The basket gave the Knights a 27-24 lead. Photo by Ben Draper
Boys lineup sees ball bounce their way in wins over Morris, Sycamore
KANELAND—It’s been a busy time for Kaneland boys basketball.
Outside of a tough loss to renowned hoops program Hillcrest at the Day and Night of Hoops and St. Charles North two weeks ago, it’s been largely positive, as well.
With a home win over rival Sycamore 50-44 on Saturday, preceded by a 47-44 road win over Morris, the Knights sit at 15-9 and 6-3 in Northern Illinois Big XII play.
The win over the Spartans, rescheduled from Jan. 24 due to inclement conditions, was a nice switch from a 41-38 loss along Spartan Trail on Dec. 6, 2013. Knight offense was paced by Tyler Carlson’s game-high 24 points and John Pruett’s 10.
Kaneland was also helped by a 17-of-19 night from the foul line, as well.
The first frame ended with Sycamore ahead 13-11, before Kaneland was able to jump ahead at 27-24 by halftime. The action stabilized with Kaneland leading after three in a 38-35 situation, and the Knights’ 12-9 fourth quarter was enough to pull away from the Sycamore rival.
Against the Redskins, which suffered a season sweep to the Knights after a 42-41 result on Jan. 10, KHS was served by Drew David’s team-high 13 points, Pruett’s 11 and Carlson’s 10.
The Knights led 12-10 after the first quarter but fell behind 19-18 at the half. After rallying to take a 34-32 lead after the third quarter, Kaneland outscored Morris 13-12 to earn the conference win.
Overall, KHS Brian Johnson was pleased with the recent run.
“It was a rewarding weekend for the boys,” Johnson said. “They had a tough game against Hillcrest and a hard fought loss to St. Charles North. It was nice to see them respond against the top two teams in our league. Hopefully we can continue to play hard and put up a good fight against a strong DeKalb team.”
Johnson refers to the regular season finale against the Barbs in Maple Park on Friday, Feb. 28.
Friday also revealed the Class 3A postseason slate for the Knights, as the No. 1 seed of the Kaneland Regional. On Tuesday, March 4, KHS plays either No. 4 Glenbard South or No. 5 Aurora Central Catholic. Friday, March 7 sees the regional final against either No. 3 Marmon Academy or No. 6 IMSA.
Photo: Sophomore Dylan Vaca scored 12 points against Hillcrest Saturday, following up his 10-point output the night before at Yorkville. Photo by Patti Wilk
Knights host gathering for a cause after getting upper hand on YHS
KANELAND—It was a week of the familiar and unfamiliar for Kaneland boys basketball.
Although it wasn’t a perfect slate, the boys got to see how they measured up against the conference and other respected programs.
On Tuesday, the Knights hosted St. Charles North and lost in the final seconds 62-59.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the Knights hosted a day-long event, the Kaneland Day and Night of Hoops, that benefited the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org). In the nightcap, the Knights fell victim to Hillcrest by a final of 81-60. On Friday, Kaneland traveled down Route 47 to Yorkville High School and earned a 63-55 win.
Kaneland sits at 13-9 (4-3 Northern Illinois Big XII).
Against the North Stars, Tyler Carlson led the way with 17 points, but St. Charles North’s Alec Goetz’ 22, including a last-second trey, broke a late 59-point tie. Drew David had a strong game with 14 points, hitting two three-pointers and going 6-6 from the free throw line.
Facing Country Club Hills program Hillcrest on Saturday, the Knights made five-of-nine shots to give KHS a 10-7 lead with 4:14 to go in the frame, until Hillcrest blitzed out to a 10-0 run. Carlson’s basket with 40 ticks left closed the first quarter scoring out at 17-12 in favor of the visitors.
In the second quarter, the deliberate pace and feeling-out process ceased and action picked up with the Knights converting on five of six shots, ending with a John Pruett putback to close it to 29-26 with 2:43 left in the half.
Pruett’s bucket with 2:21 left closed within 30-28, but that’s when the margin chasing stopped for KHS. Hillcrest closed the half on a 9-3 run to lead 39-31 at halftime.
The third quarter featured a flurry, including two foul shots from Pruett, a three-point play from Carlson, two more foul shots from Carlson and a free throw from Cole Carlson to close to within 47-40 with just over four minutes to play. Hillcrest then stretched the floor and went on a 9-2 run, ending with 1:56 to go. Hillcrest led Kaneland 56-44 by the end of the third. Kaneland’s deficit was as much as 25 at 79-54 with 1:18 to go in the game.
For Hillcrest, DeAngelo Isby had a game-high 22 points, followed by Taylor Adway’s 14. Pruett had 19 for Kaneland while Tyler Carlson had 13.
“It was nice being in the game,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I thought we really got outmuscled on the glass. When you’re playing a team that’s a lot more athletic than you are and a lot taller than you are, you’ve got to do the little things right.”
Things could have gone more the Knights way if the first-quarter scheme held up.
“It was nice to see John start the game with a nice little step-back jumper. That was huge for John to show he could play with the big boys. We were trying to figure out what we could do successfully,” Johnson said.
The night also featured draw-down and 50/50 contests, chuck-a-ducks, hoops battles for Cagers and Kaneland Youth Program teams, and cheer and dance performances.
Teams were also brandishing “camo” shooting warmups on a day that proved bigger than hoops.
“That North Chicago-Larkin game was awesome. St. Charles North was excellent, and it was good to see Peoria Richwoods. It was a pleasure to put the name of Kaneland with those programs. We’re going to do it for sure next year, without a doubt,” Johnson said.
Larkin defeated North Chicago, 79-76, while SCN beat Richwoods 87-66 in other action at KHS.
Friday’s tilt against Yorkville featured a game-high 18 points for Tyler Carlson and 10 from sophomore Dylan Vaca.
Kaneland was up 14-10 after one quarter and 31-25 at halftime. Yorkville stormed back to chisel into the KHS lead at 44-43 by the end of the third, before the Knights’ deficit stretched enough for the win. The Knights also benefited from a 30-for-38 night from the foul line.
On Friday, Feb. 21, the Knights travel to Grundy County to face rival Morris.
Photo: Senior John Pruett continued his torrid scoring streak, putting up 26 points Friday at Rochelle, and following that up with 28 more against West Chicago Tuesday evening. Fellow senior Tyler Carlson (23) was the team’s high-scorer with 33 points against Rochelle. Photo by Patti Wilk
KANELAND—Whatever questions exist concerning the fortunes of Kaneland boys basketball, the offense doesn’t have to be included.
Dealing with an athletic West Chicago lineup on Tuesday in a road jaunt, the Knights withstood the floor-spreading attack and emerged with a 71-65 win.
That came on the heels of a successful Friday trip to Rochelle, where KHS ran to a 91-67 win over the host Hubs.
Kaneland enjoys a 12-7 record with a 3-3 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.
The Knights’ win on Joliet St. in West Chicago proved considerably more agreeable than the 54-43 Wildcat win from a year ago.
Kaneland resisted several lead changes and 27 points from scoring threat John Konchar by utilizing John Pruett’s 28 points, including 14-of-17 shooting from the foul line in the win.
“I’m just coming out here, and it’s my senior year, and this could possibly be the last time I play basketball, in high school for sure, at least,” Pruett said. “I’m just going to try to end it with a bang.
An even first quarter ended with West Chicago up 13-11, and the close tempo held for much of the second quarter when Pruett’s three-pointer with 2:25 to go in the half gave KHS a 24-22 lead. After a WC three, Pruett came back with a three-point play with 1:14 to go for a 27-25 lead. An offensive putback on the other end tied the affair. Drew David’s bucket with 43.4 to go put the Knights back on top, 29-27, but a Wildcat three with 29.7 ended the scoring at 30-29 for the first half.
The third quarter saw West Chicago get out to a five-point lead during one stretch, but the Knights were helped by two foul shots from Pruett, a foul shot from Tyler Carlson and a putback by Carlson in a 49 second stretch to lead 49-45 at the end of three.
A Pruett three 21 second into the quarter gave the Knights a seven-point edge at 52-45, but WC wouldn’t go away, missing just three shots in the quarter and going six-for-nine from the charity stripe.
Kaneland saw its lead grow to eight with 2:26 to go at 66-58, but a WC trey with 1:59 left closed it to 66-61. Two Pruett foul shots with 1:14 left made it 68-61 before a Wildcat trifecta and a foul shot cut it to 68-65 with 48.5 left.
With the Wildcats potentially able to tie the score on the next possession, the senior cornerstone David’s quick steal of a pass led to a foul and two free throws with 19.9 left. The pair gave the Knights a 70-65 lead which iced the contest.
“(The steal) was huge,” Pruett said. “Drew is a four-year starter. Whenever we need him, he’s always coming through. Free throws, threes or steals, he’s always doing what we need to do.”
“The boys were a little more comfortable, and that was a game we were going to have to play hard,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “There’s no let-up in them, and I thought the boys responded. They played hard and they played physical.”
Against the Hubs, Kaneland was helped by a 33-point night from Carlson and 26 from Pruett in the win. Pruett also went 12-of-18 from the foul line.
Kaneland and Rochelle were deadlocked at 18 after one, and the Knights led 36-29 at the halftime buzzer. Up 65-52 after three frames, Kaneland poured it on and outscored the Hubs 26-15 in the fourth.
On Friday, Feb. 14, the Knights head to Yorkville for NIB-12 play, and Saturday, Feb. 15, brings Kaneland’s first Day and Night of Hoops with six varsity and sophomore games featuring storied programs.
Kaneland tips off against Hillcrest in the 7:30 p.m. nightcap, with proceeds from the event benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
Photo: Kaneland varsity boys basketball coach Brian Johnson and his team honor senior Drew David for breaking the program record for most games played. David has played in over 87 games for the Knights varsity basketball team as of Tuesday against Marmion. Photo by Mary Paulson
Late FTs down Marmion in busy three-game week
AURORA—While the Kaneland High School boys hoops squad would have preferred a clean sweep of the week, two out of three will do fine for now.
On Tuesday off of Butterfield Road in Aurora, the Knights got two late free throws from Tyler Carlson to down the host Marmion Academy Cadets 49-47. That dramatic result took some of the sting out of a Saturday road loss to Burlington Central in a 67-43 result, while Friday night had a 42-41 comeback win over the invading Morris Redskins after a Carlson basket with under a second remaining.
The KHS record improved to 9-5, and 2-1 in the Northern Illinois Big XII conference.
The Knights went out to an early 12-5 lead as Marmion struggled to find its shot, and KHS took advantage of turnovers. A John Pruett basket and two Carlson free throws gave KHS a 23-11 lead at halftime. The lead ballooned to 37-22 with 1:59 left in the third before Marmion went on a 12-1 run to end the frame, thanks in part of a late basket and two foul shots due to a technical foul on head coach Brian Johnson.
In the fourth, Pruett fouled out, after being responsible for the only field goal the Knights would make in the quarter. Kaneland would go 9-of-12 in the fourth from the charity stripe, including Carlson going 7-of-8. His front-end shot with 2:45 to go made it 43-40 with 2:45 to go, and two more would give KHS a 45-40 lead with 1:57 left. Another later pair made it 47-44 with 1:02 remaining before a game-tying three try for Marmion athlete Michael Sheehan with 51.2 left tied the score.
With time running out, Carlson was fouled on an offensive putback try with 1.3 to go. After nailing both tries, Tom Van Bogaert stole an inbounds heave to end it.
Pruett and Carlson each had a game-high 16 points for Kaneland.
“(Tyler) made some big free throws, and he was running a play that we run for John, and he was able to execute on that. We ran it earlier and John was able to get a look. It probably helped having Ty down there,” Johnson said.
With Pruett’s exit and Marmion’s comeback, Kaneland handled the in-game adversity well, according to Johnson.
“Having Drew (David) and John in foul trouble and having guys do things they weren’t used to doing, and that puts a lot of pressure on the other guys and I thought they handled it pretty well,” Johnson said.
Against BC, Carlson’s 13 points was the only double-figure total. Kaneland was down 14-10 and 33-23 after the first half concluded. The Rockets pulled away to lead 50-31 at the end of the third quarter.
Carlson had a game-high 18 points in the Morris outing, followed by Pruett’s 14. David (8 points) and Cole Carlson (2) were the only other Knights to find the scoring column. The Knights led 8-7 after one and pulled away some, 19-11 at the half, before the margin closed to 31-25 after three.
After this latest stretch, the Knights roster is home against rival Yorkville on Friday, Jan. 17.
Photo: Senior Cole Carlson tries to recover a rebound in the first quarter of Kaneland’s 54-51 loss to Geneva at the United Center Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Late 3-pointer dooms Knights; KHS closes Plano tourney as 9th-place team
CHICAGO—It’s been the home site of three Bulls championship-winning seasons, and two previous meetings between former conference rivals Kaneland and Geneva.
On Saturday, the United Center housed the first meeting of the Knight and Viking boys hoops teams in nearly four years and saw momentum ebbs and flows until a late three-pointer from Nate Navigato with 3.7 seconds left from Geneva cinched a 54-51 loss for Kaneland. Geneva has won all three meetings at the United Center, including December 2008 and February 2010.
Kaneland (7-4) also ended its Plano Christmas Classic tour on Dec. 30, with a 47-42 win over Northern Illinois Big XII crossover foe Dixon.
Against Geneva, Tyler Carlson had a game-high 21 points, while John Pruett had 16.
Carlson found himself with minimal adjustment to the NBA setting on Saturday.
“Just with the backdrop on the hoop,” Carlson said. “It’s kind of hard to judge how to shoot it and see how far away you are. You see bleachers instead of walls back there but we had a pretty good adjustment.”
Down 37-33 going into the fourth quarter, and down by as much as 10 with two minutes left in the third, Kaneland went to work after ending the third frame on a long-distance heave by Carlson.
A basket by Drew David and two baskets with a pair of foul shots from Pruett had Kaneland in a 42-39 lead with 4:53 to go.
Pruett hit two foul shots to extend the lead to 44-41 with 3:59 to go, and Ryan David’s two free throws broke a tie with 2:55 to go to make it 46-44. Geneva and Carlson traded a foul shot to make it 47-45 with 2:27 remaining. The Vikings would score five in a row to take a 50-47 lead with 1:16 remaining, and Pruett’s free throw with 56.8 to go would close it to 50-48.
After Geneva hit the back end of two foul attempts for a 51-48 lead with 44.6 to go, a play drawn up for Carlson had the senior connecting on a three-point try with 17.1 remaining.
With Geneva connecting on the late trifecta, the Vikings fouled David with 2.3 seconds left. With David missing two straight, Connor Fedderly grabbed the errant attempt and missed a three try from the corner that ended the tight contest.
Kaneland had led 13-12 after the first quarter and was down 20-19 at the half.
“We had some big moments, and it was nice to see the guys compete against a team and a coach I think very highly of,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We competed and wanted to get the win, and it just didn’t happen.”
Johnson stressed to the team beforehand to treat Saturday’s contest like a home game.
“Yesterday, we were able to get into Aurora University and practice on a bigger floor, and I thought our wind was good and were able to press a little bit, and everybody played hard,” Johnson said.
Geneva didn’t miss a shot in the fourth quarter and was 8-for-11 from the charity stripe.
In the Plano Christmas Classic finale for Kaneland, Carlson had a game-high 19 points, while Pruett had 17 of his own. The Knights were up 12-6 after one and 20-17 at the half before nursing a 34-25 lead at the end of three.
The Knights host the visiting Morris Redskins, the 2013 Plano Christmas Classic runner-up, on Friday, Jan. 10.
Photo: Senior Tyler Carlson had averaged 16.5 points per game at the 2014 Plano Christmas
Classic. The Knights lost their first game last week, but won three straight to place ninth in the tournament. Photo by Patti Wilk
Knights get back on track against Genoa-Kingston, Mendota
PLANO—For one to survive and advance in the historic setting of Plano Christmas Classic, in its 51st year, a team has to get off on the right foot.
In the tournament opener on Dec. 26, the No. 4 seed Knights boys basketball team (7-3) suffered a 57-50 loss to the No. 13 seed Newark Norsemen of the Little Ten Conference.
The Knights then battled No. 5 seed Genoa-Kingston, which had lost to No. 12 Aurora Christian in yet another minor upset, on Friday afternoon, ending in a 52-40 comeback win.
After Friday’s result, the Knights battled Mendota on Saturday and eked their way to a 65-64 win.
Kaneland then defeated Dixon to claim ninth place on Monday. In 2012, Kaneland finished in fourth place overall, and won it all in 2009, its first year back to the tournament after holiday stops in DeKalb and Marengo.
Against the perennial small-school powerhouse Newark on Thursday morning, the Knights were led by guard Tyler Carlson with 15 points and forward John Pruett with 14. Backcourt general Drew David had 11 points to supplant the effort.
For Newark, the brother combination of Jack Clausel (19 points) and Will Clausel (16 points) made life difficult for the Knights on the heels of holiday celebration.
Kaneland was 23-for-65 from the field during the loss, including a mediocre 9-for-33 in the second half.
The Knights led 16-10 after the first eight minutes of play, and fell victim to an offensive barrage from the Little Ten stalwart, trailing 31-29 at the halftime horn. Newark powered through even more in the third frame and took a 43-35 lead before Kaneland closed the margin slightly in the loss.
On Friday in action against the Cogs, Carlson had 15 points, while David and Pruett each supplied 12. KHS was 20-for-53 from the field and 17-for-24 from the foul line. G-K was led by Tommy Lucca’s 13.
Two three-pointers by David and a keen bucket down low from Pruett helped give Kaneland an early 12-6 lead in the first quarter, but a free throw and three-pointer closed it on G-K’s end to 12-10 by the end of the frame.
Connor Fedderly hit a three to break a tie and make it 15-12 with 5:25 left in the half, breaking a five-minute scoring drought. G-K then converted on five consecutive shot opportunities and led 22-20 with 1:01 remaining. The Cogs then hit the back end of a pair of free throws to go up 23-20 at halftime.
The third-quarter tide turned fairly quickly when Pruett’s bucket, David’s try and Ryan David’s basket gave Kaneland a 27-23 lead just 1:10 into the frame.
Carlson put in a putback for a 31-25 lead with 2:05 to go before G-K made its only field goal of the quarter, a trifecta, to close within 31-28 with 1:28 to go before Pruett’s free throw pair with 38.4 to go stretched the lead before the buzzer at 33-28.
The fast-break tempo that Kaneland used to its benefit soon gave way to ball control, peppered by a three-pointer and putback by Carlson and a basket by Cole Carlson to make it 40-28 with 6:07 to go. KHS made 10-of-12 foul shots down the stretch to get the lead to much as 13 at 48-35 with 1:07 to go.
David and crew noticed the difference in on-court performance.
“We made good plays, it gave us one-on-one momentum,” David said. “We come into each game, you don’t really have time to change things too much. But when you get on the floor, you definitely have to adjust.”
After the loss to Newark, the G-K game was a little more like it.
“We need to be more fundamentally sound because of the way we played yesterday, we turned the ball over a lot. I thought the kids did a good jonb handling pressure in the second half and handling the ball in the fourth quarter. They extended the lead and held it toward the end,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.
Against the Mendota Trojans, the Knights found themselves down 27-12 after one, and 45-35 at the half buzzer before turning on the comeback afterburners and closing to within 53-46 after three and outscoring the Trojans 19-11 in the fourth.
The Knights were paced by Ryan David’s 16, Drew David’s 15 and Tyler Carlson’s 12.
The Trojans were led by James Carroll with 28 points, 24 hours after setting a tournament record with 42 points in over Forreston.
Monday had Kaneland scheduled to face Dixon in the tournament finale for the Knights with ninth place on the line. The Knights never trailed after a 12-5 opening quarter. Tyler Carlson’s 19 points and Pruett’s 17 points let KHS. Ryan david had 8 points over NIB-12 west team.
On Saturday, Jan. 4, the Knights begin the second half of their schedule with a trip to the United Center in Chicago for the first time since February 2010, against Geneva at 2 p.m.
Editor note: This story has been updated from the originally published version with information from Monday’s game vs. Dixon at the Plano Christmas Classic.
Photo: Junior Ben Barnes scored a team-high 16 points in Kaneland’s 83-63 rout of Rochelle Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Knight boys hoops runs wild on rival Hubs
KANELAND—Five players managing a double-figure night should be a harbinger of good things for one’s basketball lineup.
In the case of Kaneland, it meant terrible things for visiting Rochelle last Friday night.
With a strong output from personnel like John Pruett (14 points) and Tyler Carlson (11 points), along with 16 from reserve Ben Barnes, 14 from Dylan Vaca and 10 from sub Ryan David, the Knights flew to an 83-63 win over the Hubs.
Kaneland’s first challenge of the week, coupled with Tuesday’s 63-38 win against Hinckley-Big Rock, raised its record to 4-2, and 1-1 in Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play.
KHS held firm in the victory despite being trumped in foul line opportunities by a 26-12 margin.
“The goal was to keep (Rochelle) to one shot so we could keep it and run,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I thought we did a good job with that. Our three-point shot wasn’t falling, and you have to make them work on defense and tire them out, and we beat them on transition.”
Kaneland stormed out to a 7-0 lead just 2:10 into the contest until Rochelle solidified and used three three-pointers to go up 11-10 with 2:49 left in the quarter. A basket by Drew David, a reverse layup by Carlson and a bucket by Ryan David set Kaneland back on top 16-11 with 1:47 to play in the frame. Later, a putback and foul converted by Carlson and a putback by Barnes with 44.5 to go closed the scoring at 22-13 for the first quarter.
Shots by Drew David, and a foul shot coupled by a steal and hoop from Ryan David, completed a 13-6 run for a 29-19 lead with 5:31 left in the half. A short flurry by Rochelle closed the margin to 33-27 with 2:48 remaining before two Vaca foul shots and a Vaca hoop brought the lead to eight. Two Carlson foul shots and a Hub foul try closed the scoring at 39-31 before the buzzer.
The third quarter represented a pleasant turn of events for the hosts, as Ryan David, Carlson, Vaca and Pruett were responsible for six successful shots in a row en route to a 51-33 lead after a 12-2 run with 4:22 to go in the frame.
Cole Carlson’s bucket with 52.5 left in the third gave KHS a 60-39 lead before the Hubs scored the last five points of the quarter.
Barnes and Vaca alternated fast break buckets to score the first eight points of the frame and seal the Friday contest. A Connor Fedderly three try with 4:24 to go gave the Kaneland unit its biggest lead of the contest at 75-50.
“We just try to get it and run; that worked in the first half and we tried it again, and we had some key stops on defense,” Tyler Carlson said.
With Carlson and the upperclassmen tasked with a laundry list of duties, the routine is continuing to sink in on the floor.
“So far I think we’re alright, we’re trying to fill in the leadership role. Drew is doing a great job and he’s a four-year starter. John and I are just trying to get that leadership role down,” Carlson said.
At Hinckley-Big Rock, the Knights stormed to a 12-2 lead after the first quarter and didn’t look back. John Pruett led the team with 16 points, and Tyler Carlson 15 points. Vaca had 14 points.
The boys don’t suit up until Thursday, Dec. 26, when they begin their fourth stay at the Plano Christmas Classic, which is entering its 51st year. Kaneland enters as the No. 4 seed and is scheduled to battle either No. 13 Newark or Hinckley-Big Rock at 10:30 a.m.
Photo: Senior John Pruett went 3/4 at the foul line, and finished with seven points against Sycamore Friday night. Photo by Mary Paulson
Sycamore bests KHS boys to complete Friday sweep
KANELAND—Knight boys basketball dropped to 2-2 in the still early time-frame of the 2013-14 hoops season, thanks to an old foe.
After the initial trek to the Windmill Classic in Batavia yielded a satisfactory 2-1 record, Kaneland began Northern Illinois Big XII Conference play on Friday along Spartan Trail, only to lose the conference opener by a 41-38 result and begin its quest for three conference crowns in four years in dubious fashion.
Facing Sycamore on their home court, senior backcourt asset Drew David was the only Knight to reach double figures with 13 points that included three three-pointers.
Fellow senior Tyler Carlson had eight points in the losing effort.
Sycamore led after the first quarter by a score of 15-13 and led 22-19 after the halftime buzzer, before holding firm in the second half and leading 31-28 after three. The squads exchanged 10 points apiece in the final frame.
The Spartans’ effort was amplified by seven successful trifectas.
Kaneland immerses itself in conference play yet again with a matchup against Rochelle on Friday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m.
Friday’s home game against Rochelle will be the final time the Knights boys basketball team will play on their home court in 2013, with the total road span of 27 days away, reaching the second week of January. With trips to Hinckley-Big Rock and the Plano Christmas Classic filling out the remainder of December, a matchup with Geneva at the United Center in Chicago on Jan. 4, 2014 will kick off the new year before they finally host Morris Jan. 10.
Photo: Sophomore Dylan Vaca led the Knights with 19 points against Batavia Nov. 27. Photo by Patti Wilk
Season opener sees OT win vs. Batavia; KHS splits other two games
BATAVIA—It’s an early idea, but it’s a bright one in terms of how Kaneland High School boys basketball could do this upcoming season: you’ll never be able to count them out, to be sure.
Trying to put together another winning season, coach Brian Johnson’s crew trekked to Batavia for the Ken Peddy 38th annual Windmill City Classic on Thanksgiving eve and came back from double digits to earn an 81-74 overtime win.
Friday had the Knights edged by Englewood of Chicago by a scant 54-50 margin before once again taking charge on Saturday evening and beating St. Francis by a final of 66-48.
Kaneland is now 2-1 to begin the season.
In the opener, sophomore Dylan Vaca had a team-high 19 points, while seniors John Pruett and Drew David had 18 each. Senior Tyler Carlson added 14 to the winning effort.
Canaan Coffey of Batavia had a game-high 26 points.
After keeping in step with the host Bulldogs with a 13-13 score after one frame, Batavia took control with a hot perimeter game to go up 35-28 at the half.
It looked dire for Kaneland in the fourth, with Batavia up 63-50 with 5:36 remaining. Then, buckets from David and Carlson started to fall to slim the lead. A Carlson three closed it to 64-61 with 2:30 to go, and he would soon follow with a three-point play to close it to 66-64 with 1:38 to go in regulation.
Vaca was fouled on a three-point try and would sink all the shots to close within 68-67 with 35.6 to go. After two Bulldog free throws made it a 70-67 game with 34.2 left, David drained the last basket of regulation from behind the arc to tie the score with 19.4 and send it to overtime.
Kaneland stifled the Bulldogs on the offensive end in overtime, while David hit a baseline jumper to give the Knights their first lead since quarter one at 72-70, 63 seconds into the extra frame. Carlson’s three and a foul shot by Connor Fedderly made it 76-70, effectively sealing the deal as KHS went 6-for-10 from the foul line.
Vaca’s three foul shots put the Kaneland roster into a chance to catch up in what was his first sophomore outing.
“It felt good to get out there and run and shoot the three,” Vaca said. “They fell in the second half. It was a big deficit, and we just had to find a way to come back.”
The team effort was evident and paid off, according to Johnson.
“Dylan made some big shots, and we were fortunate that he made the free throws. (Batavia) shot unbelievably well. We just got lucky and got a few turnovers. Carlson did an excellent job on the glass and he played really hard, and Drew just seems to come up with big shots a lot.”
Against Englewood of Chicago, Pruett had 18 points and David had 11 in the loss. Down 31-17 at halftime, KHS made a valiant comeback to close within 37-36 after three before its foes held firm.
In the win over St. Francis, Vaca paced the Knights with 21 points—the only Knight in double figures—while Kaneland went 21-of-28 from the line. Up 35-27 at halftime, Kaneland expanded the lead to 54-36 after three before the final margin.
On tap for the Knight hoopsters is a trip to Sycamore on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m.
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Who knew that suiting up for the Aurora Superstars 10 years ago would lead to this?
For Knights senior Drew David, toiling away in the organized tackle football ranks eventually led to being tabbed the starting quarterback three years running for Kaneland High School football. With that responsibility came numerous all-conference honors and a State semifinalist trip in 2011.
Last week, David was named to the Class 5A 2013 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team.
“I was on my way to first period, and coach (Tom) Fedderly found me in the hallway and handed me the paper that said I was an All-Stater,” David said. “It was pretty surprising.”
Having thrown 84 touchdowns in his varsity tenure, good for sixth all-time in the state, and rushing for 14 touchdowns on his own, Fedderly was not surprised at the season-long culmination.
“That kid is just a student of the game,” Fedderly said. “We put a lot on his shoulders, especially this year. The bigger the game, the calmer he was.”
Leading the Knights offense to three winning seasons and two undefeated regular season campaigns meant an entire body of work for the Association to look upon, including an impressive 2013 outing.
“I’m not saying it was an expectation, but it was a pretty big honor. You just work for it,” David said.
David, who threw for over 7,200 yards in his varsity time, noted one instance in particular to encapsulate his Kaneland stay.
“It was the comeback win over Morris to end my junior year (Oct. 19, 2012),” David said. “It was finally playing with all my buddies, and we got a conference championship, and it was a team effort.”
With such rival skill players like Evan White of Rochelle and Ben Niemann of Sycamore also making the All-State squads, it speaks to the fierceness of the Northern Illinois Big XII, as well.
“You see all the All-Staters from the conference, and it tells you how good it is week in and week out,” Fedderly said.
While not entirely sure what lies ahead, David is exploring options to schools large and small for the 2014-15 school year.
Whether David walks on at a bigger program or plays at a larger role in a Division III outfit, Fedderly can easily relay what a team would be getting.
“They’ll get a very good student and a good kid,” Fedderly said. “Not only an All-Stater, but a quality person.”
Photo:Senior John Pruett drives to the hoop with junior Ben Barnes right behind during Saturday’s boys basketball practice. Photos by Patti Wilk
Johnson’s crew aims for third NIB-12 title in four seasons
KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball may have 67 wins under coach Brian Johnson in his previous four years, but the lack of one specific win last February is what spurs them on.
A regional semifinal loss to Wheaton’s St. Francis High School at the IMSA Regional put an end to a season that saw a 16-12 mark and a second-ever Northern Illinois Big XII championship.
The ending of the last campaign meant Johnson said goodbye to two hard-working seniors, Matt Limbrunner and Dan Miller.
“Losing Dan and Matt is obviously a big loss,” Johnson said. “Matt was player of the year in our league and had a nice season. Dan was a leader who played outstanding defense.”
The loss of the two anchors is lessened somewhat with the return of backcourt powerhouse Drew David and senior company.
“Drew is a four-year starter. John (Pruett) is coming off an all-conference season, and Ty (Carlson) was solid throughout the year. We definitely have guys coming back that were solid contributors for us,” Johnson said.
The three are also well-versed in the clutch, having seen David crush dreams of DeKalb and Sycamore with late three-pointers last year, and Carlson beating Morris with a putback.
“They’ve gone through a lot as far as basketball is concerned. With them having been in football and baseball, they’ve been through a lot of varsity games and hopefully can add to their basketball experience,” Johnson said.
Junior Connor Fedderly also returns after having served time in the starting lineup, as does Cole Carlson.
“Connor had a nice year last year and a nice summer with his shot. Cole put in major minutes for us last year. We have some other guys that played a little bit last year,” Johnson said.
Johnson refers to assets like tower Tom Van Bogaert and Ben Barnes in his junior year.
Sophomore Dylan Vaca, thrown into the fire last year as a freshman, returns for more second-year minutes. Junior Steven Limbrunner makes his varsity entrance with a good pedigree, while junior Owen Korpela joins the squad as well.
Zach Douglas, Ryan David and Jake Gomes also join the Knight ranks for 2013 after JV experience.
In his fifth year, Johnson has gained more experience with juggling a lineup of different players and personalities.
“It’s nice that I know the kids really well and they know me. I have an idea with some guys, and there’s a competition for minutes. Some guys that may start may not finish games,” Johnson said.
Looking at the upcoming season, Kaneland is upping the ante on awareness and competition, which includes a return to the Plano Shootout over the holidays, and a return to the United Center court for the first time in four years against Geneva. The Knights also host the first-ever Kaneland Shootout in February.
“We’re trying to step up our competition, and we play in good competition over the summer. The goal is not to hide,” Johnson said.
For the NIB-12 landscape, nothing will be taken for granted.
“Every night is a solid matchup, we’re all pretty evenly matched across the board. Sycamore finished strong with a regional title. They have solid players,” Johnson said.
The season tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 27, with the Batavia Windmill Classic. Conference play begins at Sycamore, on Friday, Dec. 6.
Injuries, JCA juggernaut create perfect storm for 2nd-round elimination
JOLIET, ILL.—Even before the Class 5A playoffs began, Kaneland football knew what it could be getting into.
After a convincing win over first-round opponent Hampshire last week, Kaneland would have to deal with Montini Catholic and Sycamore in potential quarterfinal and semifinal matchups.
It was noted football factory Joliet Catholic on the immediate horizon at Joliet Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. With the penchant for big running plays and injuries coming together at an inopportune point for the Knights, Kaneland saw its season end in a 45-8 defeat.
It marked the second straight year that the Knights were tossed in the second round, having lost to host Lincoln-Way West by a 31-15 margin on Nov. 3, 2012.
The previous two seasons saw home semifinal losses to Montini to end those particular seasons.
Kaneland finishes the 2013 campaign at a still-exemplary 9-2, the first year since 2009 that the Knights didn’t finish with a double-digit win total. The loss to the Hilltoppers marked the lowest point total for the Knights since a 42-7 loss to former conference rival Geneva on Oct. 17, 2008.
For the Knights, early-season injuries to running back Jesse Balluff and lineman Zach Thielk converged with the round one back injury to wideout Brandon Bishop, and in-game injuries to quarterback Drew David and lineman Sam Bower to make matters difficult for the visitors.
“David tried to slide as he got hit and hurt his ribs,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.
David was 6-for-13 for 69 yards before being knocked out of the game. Classmate Tyler Carlson stepped in and went 10-for-18 for 95 yards.
Isaac Swithers ran for 34 yards on seven carries, and John Pruett had 55 yards receiving on five catches.
JCA had 392 yards rushing on the night, paced by Nick Borgra’s and Nick Ivlow’s 140 yards apiece.
KHS began with the ball, saw some openings and moved down the field, thanks to runs by Swithers and David and a pass to Pruett, but the drive stalled after 11 plays and 52 yards following an incomplete pass to Swithers. On the Hilltoppers’ second play from scrimmage, a counter by Ivlow resulted in a 67-yard touchdown scamper with 6:52 to go in the frame, despite Dylan Nauert almost chasing him down.
An additional drive for either team in the quarter stalled, but Joliet Catholic took control in the second quarter. Kaneland had a chance to tie matters with a pass that went through the hands of Pruett in the end zone on a second-and-10 from the 21 of JCA. Two plays later, Matt Rodriguez was wide left on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
Ivlow immediately turned around and rocketed to an 80-yard TD run on the next play with 4:58 remaining in the half for a 14-0 lead. A three-and-out for the Knights gave way to another Hilltopper possession, and Ivlow managed his third touchdown two plays later from 24 yards out, giving the hosts a 21-0 lead with 2:22 before halftime.
Ivlow would cap his astronomical first half on the next drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:06 to go for his fourth touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
The floodgates would open for the Hilltoppers on a 42-yard touchdown run by Borgra with 6:17 left in the third for a 35-0 lead, followed by a 23-yard field goal by Brian Bravo with 4:00 to go for a 38-0 lead, and the running clock kicked in with a 51-yard scoring scamper by Borgra with 29 seconds to go in the third for a 45-0 lead.
Kaneland finally got on the scoreboard with an orchestrated drive that ended on a three-yard run and a two-point catch by Nate Dyer with 6:44 for the final 37-point deficit.
Dyer and company brought their skills the best they could not only throughout the season-ender, but the entire year as well, despite not being at total strength.
“It has been a rough year with injuries,” Dyer said. “Especially on the turf, that’s kind of a nightmare at times for us. Our juniors worked so hard in practice. Everybody is going to talk like all the other schools, saying ‘Our seniors are gone.’ Those kids worked just as hard. I expect them to come back firing.”
“We lost to some good teams this year, but the only thing I can say is just how grateful I am coaching these kids,” Fedderly said. “It was just a tremendous run that we had; unfortunately, when it rained, it poured with the injuries with Bishop, David and Bower. Hats off to (Joliet Catholic), they did a nice job.”
Knights recover nicely from Sycamore setback, finish regular season 8-1
MORRIS, ILL.—One never knows how the usual Week 9 regular season battles between the Kaneland Knights and Morris Redskins will go.
Luckily, the Friday gridiron battle decided to go the way of the Knights for the fourth-straight instance.
Coming off of their first regular season loss in 35 games the week prior in Sycamore, the Knights perhaps started a whole new streak against a scuffling Morris squad in a 49-14 rout.
Kaneland finishes the regular season at 8-1 (4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII), while Morris (3-6, 1-4 NIB-12).
Kaneland ends the regular season with its sixth straight winning record, and 18th winning record in the last 19 tries. Morris was eliminated from playoff contention a year after completing a State runner-up appearance in 2012.
“I was really happy with how we came out,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Especially on the first drive, we marched right down and scored. So, I was really happy and just wondering how the kids were going to respond.”
Quarterback Drew David had 204 yards passing on 12 of 24 passing attempts.
The first quarter started well enough for KHS, with David moving 35 yards off a read option. Four plays later, Isaac Swithers (101 yards, 12 carries) shrugged off contact and scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 9:41 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.
On Morris’ second drive, Jake Walker took the handoff and exploited a hole for an 84-yard touchdown run with 8:03 to go that tied the score at 7-7.
Three Kaneland drives later, the Knights used Swithers’ runs to set up a pass up the middle to Dylan Nauert for a 16-yard score with 1:46 left and a 14-7 lead. Nauert had 71 yards receiving on the night.
Nauert would find paydirt again with a sprint up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown run, with Tyler Carlson catching the two-point try and a 22-7 lead with two ticks left in the frame.
“We didn’t play up to our best last week,” Nauert said. “We wanted to come back this week and just (proves) that that’s not our team. Morris is always a fun game.”
After both teams traded interceptions, including one by Carlson, Kaneland would get the ball back and Nate Dyer would spin off a would-be tackler en route to an 18-yard touchdown run and a 29-7 advantage with 8:43 before the half.
The next two drives would pay dividends for KHS, thanks to a six-yard run by Swithers with 4:47 to go to make it 36-7, and a five-yard deep ball to Brandon Bishop for a 42-7 edge just 20 seconds before the break.
The Knights’ final regular season touchdown came thanks to Swithers from the 24-yard line of the Redskins just 17 seconds into the third quarter, triggering the running clock with a 49-7 lead. Kaneland had taken over after one Morris play due to a fumble recovery.
Photo: Senior John Pruett makes an athletic grab in Kaneland’s 31-21 loss to Sycamore Friday. Pruett had five receptions for 91 yards—a game high. Photos by Patti Wilk
Sycamore hands Kaneland its first regular season loss since 2009
SYCAMORE—It’s comforting that Friday’s post-game feeling took some getting used to for Kaneland High School football and its fans, but it didn’t make Friday’s 31-21 loss any better in the end.
In front of a boisterous Spartan crowd, the Sycamore hosts (8-0, 4-0 NIB-12), ranked No. 1 in the IHSA Class 5A playoff outlook, took advantage of an early-fourth quarter turnover and clutch third- and fourth-down conversions in the fourth frame to subdue the Knights, ranked No. 3 in the playoff outlook going into the game.
For the Knights (7-1, 3-1 NIB-12), it signaled the stoppage of a 35-game regular season win streak, and the first-ever loss suffered in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play since the 2010 inception. The last regular season loss Kaneland suffered was to Geneva on Oct. 16, 2009, in the dying days of the Western Sun Conference, 27-24 in overtime.
Kaneland has still won 49 of its last 54 overall contests.
Sycamore, which effectively clinched the NIB-12 East division, travels to Yorkville for Week 9, and tries to clinch an undefeated campaign against the playoff-hunting Foxes.
“Our guys didn’t let up, but those guys made plays and slung the ball, and they executed,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.
John Pruett had 91 yards receiving for the Knights, while Drew David had 248 yards passing and 69 yards on the ground.
Kaneland drew first blood with ball-control on the first drive of the game, converting on a five-yard touchdown run by Isaac Swithers with 7:37 to go in the first quarter for a 7-0 edge.
Sycamore got on the scoreboard exactly four minutes into the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3, but KHS used six plays to score again on a nine-yard floater from Drew David to running back Nate Dyer by the edge of the end zone. The touchdown made it 14-3 with 5:28 to go in the half.
The Spartans got momentum back when reserve quarterback Nick Feuerbach, in for usual starter Devin Mottet, scampered for a 30-yard touchdown run and cut it to 14-10 with 3:15 to go in the half. The Knights’ ensuing drive came up barren after a 25-yard field goal attempt by Matt Rodriguez missed before halftime.
Sycamore punched through to begin the third quarter scoring thanks to a Dion Hooker run from the 11-yard line, giving the home squad a 17-14 lead with 9:03 left in the third.
Kaneland’s next drive featured a clutch 3rd-and-31 pass to John Pruett for a first down, and it was followed by a 28-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Brandon Bishop to give the Knights a 21-17 lead with 5:21 left in the frame.
The fourth quarter turned out to be decidedly in the Spartans’ favor on both sides of the ball. A David pass was tipped and intercepted by Jack Dargis at the Kaneland 44 and returned 14 yards to the Knight 30. Three plays later, Riley Hurley took it in from the 1-yard line for a 24-21 Sycamore edge just 48 seconds into the fourth.
Kaneland’s next drive ended in a punt, and Sycamore went on the offensive. A seven-play ended with a fourth-and-two desperation pass to Colan Treml for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-21 lead with 5:11 to play.
Kaneland’s next drives came up empty after 14 plays with a short 35-yard field goal try and an interception, sending the longest win streak in the Chicagoland area up in smoke.
“We were playing for a conference championship, and that’s all we were worried about. All the other stuff I could care less about,” Fedderly said.
Big third quarter dooms Yorkville as KHS (7-0) steamrolls
KANELAND—It’s been a one-sided battle for a while, but with only a 13-0 halftime lead on senior night, the Knights made all the necessary adjustments.
Despite the sluggish first half during Friday night’s contest at Peterson Field against visiting Yorkville, the Knights turned it on with an explosive third quarter enroute to a 41-0 thumping of the Foxes.
The Foxes have not defeated Kaneland since 2002 when they won 34-13. That was also Yorkville’s last winning season—they went 6-4, getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Geneseo’s Darnall high school. Since the 2003 season, Kaneland has outscored the Foxes 405-59.
The win vaults KHS to 7-0, and 3-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East Division. Kaneland remains undefeated in conference play, dating back to the formation of the NIB-12, and has now tallied 34 consecutive regular season wins.
The Knight defense was stellar, holding the visitors to just 56 total yards of offense: 45 passing and 11 rushing. In fact, Kaneland gave away more yards to the Foxes via penalties—10 penalties for 75 yards.
Senior Dylan Nauert had a nice first half, which included a 42-yard touchdown. Nauert led all rushers with 52 yards and two touchdowns, the second coming in a 21-point third quarter frenzy.
Drew David hooked up with Brandon Bishop twice for touchdown passes, once in the second quarter for 34 yards and another in the third quarter for 37 yards. Bishop ended the game with 83 yards to lead the game. Connor Fedderly also got on the score sheet, hauling in a 20 yard pass from David in the third.
The senior QB David was 13 for 21 for 198 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night.
Piling on the defensive stats with KHS interceptions were Isaac Swithers, Grant Wooten and Cole Carlson. Carlson’s interception was returned for a touchdown to make it 40-0 and start the running clock with 9:46 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. A Matt Rodriguez PAT made it 41 to finish the KHS scoring.
KHS increases regular season win streak to 34 with NIB-12 win at DeKalb
DEKALB—Kaneland and DeKalb have had quite the football battles the last two years.
In 2011, Kaneland found itself visiting the new Dresser Road turf for the first time and down 31-14 before staging a monster second-half comeback in a 49-38 win.
Last year, the Knights put up 66 points on the visiting Barbs.
On Friday, the process was a little more elementary: withstand big plays, ball-control-tinged running, and key passes, leading to a 35-12 win at DeKalb High School.
The win marked the 34th consecutive win for Kaneland football in the regular season. Kaneland improved to a playoff-qualified 6-0 and 2-0 in the Northern Illinois Big XII East division, and has never lost a conference game in the group that began in the 2010 season.
DeKalb fell to 3-3, with an 0-2 mark in conference play. Kaneland has never lost to DeKalb in eight straight conference meetings.
“We’ve got a lot a lot of respect for their coach (former Belvidere coach Matt Weckler), and we’ve played him the last two years in the first round,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “We have a lot of respect for that offense. They spread themselves out and get into space. If you make one mistake they can make a big play, as we saw. We’re really happy to hold these guys to 12 points.”
For the Knights, Drew David threw three touchdown passes on a night where he was 16-for-26 for 330 yards.
DeKalb running back Dre Brown had 130 yards rushing, a game-high.
After an opening DeKalb drive came up empty, Kaneland used Isaac Swithers (71 yards) and Nate Dyer (62 yards) to move the ball from their own 14-yard line. David mixed in a pass to Brandon Bishop (five catches, 65 yards) before rolling out and throwing a deep ball to tight end Tyler Slamans for a 31-yard touchdown. Slamans’ first-ever varsity TD gave KHS a 7-0 lead with 3:33 to go in the frame. After the Barbs punted another drive away, David found wideout Connor Fedderly for a 27-yard completion, and a bomb in stride to John Pruett (85 yards receiving) for a 58-yard scoring strike and a 14-0 lead with 1:06 left in the first quarter.
DeKalb gathered some momentum back when the second play of the next drive yielded a 77-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jack Sauter up the middle to make it 14-6 with 25 ticks left in the quarter.
The lone scoring drive in the second quarter ended with a six-yard run up the middle by Swithers to make it 21-6 with 6:41 to go in the half. The next two scoring opportunities for Kaneland ended with a blocked field goal and an interception.
Asked to carry more of a load along with Dyer, with an accent on speed for the ground game, Swithers is feeling more comfortable.
“Jesse went down so I just stepped in at running back, and I played last year, but I have to fill his shoes,” Swithers said. “I’m a lot faster on the turf, it’s a nice place to play.”
In the third quarter, the Barbs forced Kaneland to punt and converted on an 89-yard touchdown scamper by Brown to close within 21-12 with 8:50 remaining in the third. After Brown fumbled the ball away to Kaneland two drives later, the Knights used a couple of runs by Swithers, a pass to Dylan Nauert, a run by David and a two-yard touchdown run by Dyer to make it 28-12 with 2:14 to go in the third.
The lone score in the fourth quarter came on a David conversion from the eight-yard line with 9:39 remaining for the final 23-point margin.
Kaneland ends back-and-forth with strong 2nd half vs. Rochelle
KANELAND—After a tight, back-and-forth first half between Kaneland and Rochelle on Friday night in Maple Park, the Northern Illinois Big XII East division opener turned the tide on a half-ending touchdown pass from Drew David to John Pruett that gave KHS the lead for good at 21-20.
Kaneland would then go on to score four unanswered touchdowns in the 49-20 win over the visiting Hubs. The meeting marked the end of the regular rotation of meetings between the two schools that began with the formation of the now-dead Western Sun Conference for the 2006 season.
Rochelle is scheduled to move to the West division in the NIB-12 landscape to offset the departure of Dixon and Streator in 2014. The East division will then consist of DeKalb, Kaneland, Morris, Sycamore and Yorkville.
Kaneland improved to 5-0 (1-0 NIB-12), while Rochelle dropped to 4-1 (0-1 NIB-12). It marked the seventh consecutive win for KHS over the Hubs, dating back to a 16-12 win in 2008 thanks to a TD by current Elmhurst College QB Joe Camaliere. Kaneland also managed two victories in 2011 over the Hubs that included a 20-14 Class 5A State quarterfinal.
David was 10-of-20 for 177 yards, two scoring strikes and one interception. The senior signal-caller also had a 58-yard touchdown scamper put forth in motion by key blocks by the line and a receiver in the fourth quarter.
Running back Isaac Swithers, carrying the bulk of the running plays with senior Jesse Balluff out for 2013 with a knee injury, rushed 14 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Pruett had four catches for 82 yards and two scores, while Dylan Nauert had four catches for 69 yards.
“We just talked about on our end, doing what we do better than the mistakes we were making,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “I just think with what we saw they were doing, I thought there were a couple of things we could take advantage of. We’ve got a lot of weapons. We can throw when we have to, and we can run when we have to.”
The scoring started almost immediately, as Nauert returned the game’s opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown just 17 seconds into the game. Rochelle’s Evan White returned the favor from 96 yards on the ensuing kickoff 15 seconds later, but the extra-point attempt missed for a 7-6 score.
Kaneland then took six minutes to drive for another first-quarter score. A 12-play, 61-yard drive that featured nine runs ended with a five-yard score from running back Nate Dyer with 5:28 to go. A two-point attempt to linebacker Cole Carlson made it 15-6, Kaneland.
The Wing-T formation-leading Hubs took over and went 50 yards in seven plays, ending with a four-yard touchdown by Marquez Felix to make it 15-12 with 1:48 remaining in the first.
Rochelle went on top in the second quarter on a White touchdown run from the nine with 3:04 to go in the half. A Keegan Akers catch was good for the two-point try to send Kaneland into a 20-15 hole.
Kaneland lost the ball on a Rochelle interception, but after holding Rochelle on downs, Kaneland went seven plays for 62 yards for a David-to-Pruett score in the corner of the end zone for 26 yards to go into the locker room up 21-20. The score offset a Nauert TD pass from 16-yards that was negated by a penalty.
“We just ran our offense,” Pruett said. “We just had the open guys, I guess. Whoever Drew threw to, we tried to make plays.”
The lone scoring drive for Kaneland in the third quarter came on a 19-yard scamper by Swithers with 8:42 left in the frame for a 28-20 lead.
Kaneland’s next three touchdowns came within the span of five offensive plays in the fourth quarter. Dyer scored from the one with 11:06 to go for a 35-20 lead. Pruett caught his second TD pass with 7:18 remaining to go up 42-20, and the David rush to daylight capped the scoring with 4:55 left in the game.
Kaneland (4-0) subdues Streator in inter-divisional game
KANELAND—Friday’s result from Peterson Field in Maple Park was a familiar one.
But Kaneland football was a different unit against visiting Streator, and will be for the remainder of 2013.
The MRI on Tuesday for running back Jesse Balluff revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament after suffering the injury in the Sept. 13 victory in Sterling.
Still, Balluff was a presence on the sidelines, reassuring fellow Knights as they came off the sidelines in the 42-0 win over the Bulldogs of the Northern Illinois Big XII West division.
“That’s just the guy Jesse is,” Knights quarterback Drew David said. “Doesn’t matter if he’s playing or not, he always comes with a smile on his face. Everyone feels terrible for him, and we just tried to rally around him.”
Any further success in 2013 will have to come without the senior ball-carrier, making future wins bittersweet.
“(Jesse)’s such an important part of our team, and such a good friend to all these kids. To have him out here and be vocal and be a team leader, and elected team captain, we expect him to be a leader, and that’s what he is on the sidelines,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said.
The win marked the 32nd consecutive regular season win for the Knights, and signified the last meeting on the football field between the two squads for the foreseeable future. Streator, the southern-most NIB-12 school, departs for the Interstate Eight Conference for the 2014-15 school year.
Kaneland won the home-and-home series by a combined score of 83-0.
Kaneland had 133 yards courtesy of several ballcarriers on the ground as part of a collective effort.
David was 17-of-24 for 272 yards and five touchdown passes, with one pick. Connor Fedderly caught six passes for 59 yards, while teammate Brandon Bishop had four catches for 110 yards.
Kaneland had 405 yards gained through the night, compared to just 76 for the visiting Bulldogs.
John Pruett caught the first of his three touchdowns from 14 yards out to kick off the scoring, giving KHS a 6-0 lead with 8:29 left in the first quarter. David would score on a 17-yard scramble to make it 13-0 with 1:41 remaining in the frame.
In the second quarter, Bishop caught a short pass near the sideline on the first offensive play and went 59 yards for a score to make it 20-0 just 11 ticks into the frame.
After linebacker Cole Carlson put an end to the next Streator drive with an interception at his own 33, KHS put together a nine-play drive that ended with another scoring strike to Pruett on a deep pattern. The score put Kaneland up 27-0 with :48 to go before halftime.
The third quarter set Streator’s fate in stone, with Pruett catching his third TD pass of the game on a second-and-six from the 11-yard line with 4:37 left in the quarter. David improvised on an errant snap and found Tyler Carlson for the two-point conversion making it 35-0.
After Streator punted, Kaneland used four runs to set up a 13-yard TD pass to Bishop with :24 to go in the third activating the running clock at 42-0.
“Streator was able to stop the run, and like we’ve said all year, we want to be balanced. When we have to throw and they’re making us throw, we’re going to throw. If they’re going to make us run, we’ve got to be able to run,” Fedderly said.
Photo: Nate Dyer (32) had a big night for the Knights, rushing for three touchdowns. Photo by Patti Wilk
Sterling can’t counter Kaneland (3-0) balance
STERLING, Ill.—Kaneland showed a great crossover move on Friday night, but not on the basketball court.
Instead, the Knights football roster (3-0) successfully handled its Northern Illinois Big XII West division opponent on the turf of Sterling Chevrolet Field, the home of the Sterling Golden Warriors (2-1), in a 48-7 running clock defeat.
For the Knights, it marked the 31st consecutive victory in the regular season, and marked the third win in the last four meetings between the two schools.
Kaneland beat Sterling in the Class 5A State quarterfinals in Maple Park in 2006, a 52-45 double-overtime epic. Sterling returned the favor in Whiteside County two years later in a 23-21 first-round meeting. KHS bested the visiting Golden Warriors on Sept. 14, 2012, 42-0.
KHS gained 369 yards of total offense, compared to 80 for the hosts, with ball-carrier Nate Dyer running like a bull for the Knights with a game-high 97 yards.
“We always got guys coming in and that’s what we strive for is if a man goes down, we get that second man in,” Dyer said. “Every team that comes in, we have to expect them to be a tough team. We just had to practice hard and play hard.”
Dyer (three TDs) took the brunt of the carries, along with Isaac Swithers and Dylan Nauert, spelling Jesse Balluff, who went down in pain after being tackled to the sidelines after a first-quarter pass. The senior was on crutches with a wrap on his knee after the contest.
Senior quarterback Drew David passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for a score of his own.
David and Co. were adept at extending plays for more gains on Friday.
“The line always does a great job with blocking,” David said. “(Sterling) kind of threw different coverage than we were expecting, so it kind of confused us a little bit, but we always have guys that can make plays.”
To get to the ground punishments, Kaneland began the first drive with passes to Balluff, John Pruett, Nauer and Balluff again to gather 62 yards of offense. Five plays later, David snuck in from the one-yard line for a 7-0 lead with 7:41 to go in the first.
After a punt by Sterling, Kaneland took over and went six plays for 45 yards, ending in an 18-yard fade pattern to Connor Fedderly, his first varsity touchdown. The score made it 14-0 with 3:15 to go.
KHS would score on its third consecutive drive when David, Swithers and Dyer would make productive carries, and Dyer would scamper for a 10-yard touchdown just six seconds into the second frame for a 20-0 edge.
Sterling would strike back in short fashion, thanks to a 38-yard touchdown pass to Logan Wharff 21 seconds later to close within 20-7. Wharff set up the play with a 60-yard kickoff return.
Later, Kaneland would get pick from Swithers to set up the ball at the Sterling 28. On the third run of the drive, Dyer’s six-yard score would make it 27-7 with 5:04 left in the half.
The Knights would convert on the next drive toward the end of the frame, with six runs and one pass. Dyer’s four-yard run completed a 60-yard drive for a 34-7 lead with 43 seconds before the buzzer.
Two third-quarter scores put the game on ice, as Nauert took an inside handoff and went 19 yards for a touchdown with 8:37 to go to make it 41-7, and Nauert made an up-for-grabs catch from the three with 4:19 to go for the 48-7 margin, completing an eight-play drive.
Photo: The Knights Dylan Nauert carries the ball during the first quarter. Photo by Erik Anderson
Knights beat Elmhurst-based namesake in week 2 affair
KANELAND—Friday night’s first drive set the tone.
Facing an all-new non-conference opponent in Elmhurst’s IC Catholic Prep, Kaneland could have relied on the air game, but instead went to the rushing attack spurred on by workhorses Jesse Balluff, Dylan Nauert and Nate Dyer.
The first drive of the contest lasted nine plays and went 75 yards, ending with a 20-yard touchdown run around left end for Balluff with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter, setting the stage for an eventual 45-14 domination of the visitors.
“We just love running this year,” Balluff said. “We have a huge line that’s just dominant, and anybody can run behind them and get a touchdown, seriously.”
For Kaneland football, it’s the 30th consecutive regular season win in a row. The Knights haven’t lost a non-conference regular season matchup in four years, last dropping a 2009 matchup to Huntley.
It was a departure for the Knights crew, who last played someone other than Marmion Academy or Huntley in the season’s second game back in 2004, in a 34-0 win over Ridgewood High School.
Quarterback Drew David went 10-for-17 for 165 yards on the night, while Balluff went 185 yards on 16 carries.
On the next KHS drive, the Knights executed a 10-play drive with a concentration on ball-control. Matt Rodriguez booted a 38-yard field goal to give the hosts a 10-0 lead with 1:05 remaining in the quarter.
The ICC (1-1) drive that followed was stopped in its tracks after one play after a rush on the quarterback by Isaac Swithers resulted in a fumble recovery by Andrew Kray.
A touchdown pass to John Pruett was called back due to a penalty, but Balluff took charge with a 35-yard touchdown scamper on the next play for a 17-0 edge with 15 ticks left in the frame.
The opposing Knights finally got on the board with 8:13 left in the second on a six-yard touchdown run to close within 17-7.
Balluff had three carries on the next drive for Kaneland and scored his third touchdown of the game, with a 1-yarder up the middle for a 24-7 edge with 5:59 remaining in the half.
Kaneland’s defense took over on the next ICC drive, with Ryan Bower emerging with a sack. Four plays later, linebacker Cole Carlson picked off a pass and went 51-yards down the sideline for a touchdown and a 31-7 lead with 2:41 to go in the half.
The third quarter officially put the game on ice, despite a fourth-quarter score by ICC. Nauert ran the ball in from the 10 with 7:32 remaining in the third for a 38-7 lead, and a three-yard touchdown with 2:43 to go in the third for a 45-7 lead.
A running clock scenario was almost set into motion, but a punt return TD by Nauert was flagged for an illegal block at the tail-end of the third quarter.
KHS coach Tom Fedderly was pleased to see the early gameplan come to fruition.
“We thought we had the advantage up front,” Fedderly said. “We were going to keep running the ball until they stopped it.”
Photo: Linebacker Cole Carlson contributed an interception during Saturday’s game against Brooks Prep of Chicago. Photo by Patti Wilk
Defense makes tide-changing plays in 27-7 win over Brooks
KANELAND—Kaneland football’s defense on Saturday night picked up the pieces.
It also picked up the team, as well as any loose balls and errant passes.
The Knights’ D managed two third-quarter safeties to add to the point total in a 27-7 opening weekend victory over the Brooks Prep Eagles from Chicago.
It marked the third straight win over the Eagles since the series began in 2011, and marked a stark contrast from the 25-24 comeback win at Gately Stadium on Aug. 25, 2012 that was possible only with a fourth-quarter surge.
The 1-0 Knights won their 29th consecutive regular season contest, dating back to week nine of the 2009 campaign against Yorkville. The trumping of Brooks was delayed 24 hours after torrential rain and plentiful lightning wiped high school football action out throughout the area on Friday.
It marked the first postponement of a Kaneland football game since the opening weekend of the 2007 season, when heavy storms on a Thursday prompted moving the Kaneland win over Burlington Central to a Saturday kickoff.
The offensive output by Kaneland was largely confined to the first half and a 23-7 lead, but five turnovers bruised additional scoring chances, making the defensive play from personnel like Sam Bower, Grant Wooten (interception) and Tyler Carlson all the more important.
“It was nice, we knew we got embarrassed last year,” Carlson said. “We came out and did our job on the defensive end and it was a good game. Our defensive line just got pressure for the safeties, and it was really good work by them.”
For Kaneland, quarterback Drew David went 15-of-29 for 232 yards and three interceptions. Jesse Balluff went 84 yards on 18 carries, while David was close behind with 81 yards rushing. Tight end Tyler Slamans paced the receiving corps with 71 yards on three catches, while John Pruett and Brandon Bishop each had 44 yards receiving.
The night began with a Dylan Nauert kickoff return to the Brooks’ 24-yard line, where runs by Drew David and Jesse Balluff got the drive going. After two incomplete passes, kicker Matt Rodriguez booted a 24-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead one minute, 42 seconds into battle.
After a Brooks punt was downed at the Eagles’ 12, Balluff broke one tackle on the next play and scampered into the end zone for a 9-0 lead with 8:54 to go in the first.
Another Brooks punt led to a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive for Kaneland, ending with a five-yard touchdown run up the middle for Balluff with 5:05 to go in the first for a 16-0 lead. The drive was keyed by a 34-yard completion to Slamans.
The lone scoring drive for Kaneland in the second quarter was made of the ball-control variety, with the seventh and last run of the drive a one-yard run by fullback Nate Dyer with 3:33 to go for a 23-0 lead.
Brooks found the scoreboard on a 21-yard scoring pass from Tyree Dantzler to Dakota Starks with 36 seconds remaining in the half, closing the deficit to 23-7.
The Kaneland offense saw drives fizzle out with a missed field goal, three interceptions and a lost fumble. The second-half scoring came as a result of two third-quarter safeties, causing the ever-rare four-point third quarter.
“We’re really happy with our defensive line,” KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. “Sophomores had a big game, Bower had a huge game and Ty Carlson, in his first game as linebacker, I thought he did a terrific job.”
With 10:40 to go in the third quarter, a team sack of Dantzler in the end zone made it 25-7, while the next drive ended with a punt block by Bower out of the end zone for a 27-7 lead with 7:24 to go in the third and capping the scoring.
Photo: Senior quarterback Drew David, here taking the field at last Thursday’s Knights Under the Lights scrimmage, will lead the Knights in 2013. The Knights are looking to move past an early second-round playoff exit in 2012. Photo by Patti Wilk
Talented upperclassmen look to remedy second-round exit of 2012 season
Kaneland—Get ready Kaneland football fans, and prepare to retreat Kaneland football opponents.
Nothing may be more dangerous to opponents than a team that has won 28 regular season games in a row and a class that has won 34 of 47, and wants to remedy a second-round Class 5A elimination at the hands of Lincoln-Way West.
“The kids still feel embarrassed how it ended last year,” seventh-year coach Tom Fedderly said. “We’ve looked at the film of our scrimmage and we want to take a big step improving. We’ll look for faster improvement for this week.”
Leading the way at quarterback is Drew David, a senior who’s guided the team to the postseason two straight years. David suffered a hand injury in a victory over Yorkville in last year’s regular season, even missing the win over Sycamore. A pin was put in his hand, and Fedderly has a healthy quarterback again.
“We at Kaneland have been lucky as anyone for the quarterbacks we’ve had, no doubt,” Fedderly said.
Fellow senior Jesse Balluff once again sees time at the running back position.
“It’s nice to have him and have that balance in a spread offense. You have to prepare for him, and he’s a running threat,” Fedderly said.
Also in the backfield is bruiser and goal-line option Nate Dyer, who may also see some time on the other side of the ball at nose tackle.
The all-important wideouts in the Kaneland offensive package see some departures, but also see returnees like Dylan Nauert and Brandon Bishop.
Adding to the offense at wideout are John Pruett and Connor Fedderly. Tyler Slamans returns after an ACL injury to serve at tight end.
The offensive line features Alex Snyder, who has amassed the most varsity wins for any player in Kaneland football history, having joined the ranks as a freshman.
He’s joined by Joe Komel, in pursuit by college football programs, Shane Jorgensen, and Justin Diddell, with Tom Van Bogaert projected at center.
“We have a lot of big guys there, and average about 260 pounds,” Fedderly said.
On the ball-snatching side of the field, the linebacking corps features Gary Koehring, who had no shortage of key plays and stops in 2012. Sam Bower, Slamans and Dan Hammermeister. The Knights’ crew also has Tyler Carlson and Cole Carlson for linebacking duties, as well.
Kaneland also gets a boost from secondary play. JR Vest returns, and will be joined by Knights like Grant Wooten and Isaac Swithers.
“Isaac is a tough kid; the secondary has to know what the offense is trying to do,” Fedderly said.
Matt Rodriguez returns as the kicking specialist.
“It’s so important to have a kicker who can put it 80 yards downfield for field position,” Fedderly said.
Kaneland’s reputation precedes itself in NIB-12 history, as the only conference champ the group has ever known, but the East division houses threatening teams beginning with Class 5A runner-up Morris.
“Morris is always good, and that’s a really big game down there; Sycamore has a good senior class, and that’ll be interesting to watch against Lincoln-Way West in week one, Rochelle is always tough, we know DeKalb’s coach from having faced Belvidere in the playoffs the last two years, and Yorkville has eight sophomores that saw time last year,” Fedderly said.
KHS hosts Brooks Prep of Chicago on Friday, Aug. 30, and tries to add to the two-game win streak against the Eagles. KHS needed a fourth-quarter comeback for a one-point win in 2012.
Photo: Tyler Carlson (right) stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win.
KHS comes from behind for conference championship; passes IMSA in regional action by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Kaneland closed out the regular season Friday with a big come-from-behind win over Rochelle to lock up the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Championship. The Knights followed that by opening the post season with a huge 39-point victory over host Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA).
A site of many entertaining and tight battles, the Knights traveled to Rochelle on Friday to conclude the regular season with a close 69-66 victory.
John Pruett led the charge with 19 points, followed by Matt Limbrunner with 16 and Drew David with 10.
Rochelle jumped atop Kaneland’s hopes with an 18-9 lead after one and maintained a 38-26 lead at halftime.
Kaneland righted the game with a 20-9 run spanning the entire third quarter to close within 47-46 before a 23-19 fourth tipped the scales the Knights’ way.
Kaneland engineered dramatic victories to clinch its first conference championship in three decades two years ago, and mustered a comeback win over the Hubs in the Rochelle Regional final a year ago.
Kaneland’s 16th win of the season (16-11) came in the opening round of the Illinois Math and Science Academy Regional on Monday night in Aurora. Kaneland, the No. 3 seed, pounded the No. 6 host Titans by a 79-40 score, and were set to meet No. 2 St. Francis of Wheaton on Tuesday before inclement weather and travel conditions postponed the clash until Wednesday night. Results were unavailable for press time.
“We’re going to have to come with our best game,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said before Wednesday’s tip. “They’re (St. Francis) a very strong and solid team. They work really well together, and their defense is outstanding.”
Earlier action on Monday had the Aurora Central Catholic Chargers edge the Marmion Academy Cadets 53-51. ACC will tip-off against No. 1 Wheaton Academy before the Knights-Spartans meeting.
Four Knights found their way to the double-figures zone on Monday: Dylan Vaca with a game-high 19 points behind four three-pointers, Pruett with 15, Limbrunner with 15 and Dan Miller with 10.
For IMSA, junior Isiah Butler connected on five treys for a team-high 18 points.
In a high-tempo first quarter, Kaneland saw opportunities pay off in either putbacks or trips to the foul line. Miller hit the front end of a pair with 3:40 left in the frame for a 12-3 Knight lead. After Butler hit a three to make it 12-6, Limbrunner’s shot made it 14-6 with 3:01 to play. After another IMSA bucket made it 14-8 with 1:57 to play, Limbrunner sunk a trifecta 36 ticks later to make it 17-8 before a Butler three with 52.8 left closed the first frame scoring at 17-11.
Kaneland then put up a 24-spot in the second quarter and looked at a 41-24 lead going into the halftime break.
A Butler basket five seconds into the quarter closed the deficit to 17-13, with KHS going on a gigantic 13-0 run. Tyler Carlson’s three, Miller’s basket, a Pruett putback, a Limbrunner putback, a Cole Carlson bucket and a Pruett baseliner within a 2:54 span made it 30-13 and had Kaneland sailing.
David, Limbrunner and Pruett put up multiple baskets in the third quarter, and the Knights saw their lead balloon to 27 points, 58-31, after three.
Kaneland’s basket with 22.5 left put the lead at 40 before IMSA inched closer by the end.
Miller and the gang took note of what IMSA was trying to accomplish and after a period of adjustment, was able to execute their desired gameplan.
“It was really good to get a victory tonight,” Miller said. “You’d prefer to make your first baskets, but we focused in practice on getting to the offensive glass. That’s a big part of our game.”
If the Knights defeated Wheaton St. Francis Wednesday night (results were unavailable as of press time), they would face the winner of Wheaton Academy and Aurora Central Catholic on Friday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. at IMSA.
Photo: Cole Carlson (44) and Matt Limbrunner (42) fight for possession in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
Boys’ loss at Morris brings skid to 5 before win at Dixon by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A trip to Dixon, Ill., was just what the doctor ordered.
After a five-game losing streak that would make anyone ill, the Knight boys hoops squad traveled to their Northern Illinois Big XII crossover rival and beat the host Dukes by a final of 76-62 on Saturday.
It helped remedy some of the ill feelings of a 50-46 loss in Morris on Friday that saw KHS outscored 32-19 in the second half.
KHS is now 14-11 (6-3 NIB-12).
Against Dixon, the Knights were paced by Cole Carlson’s 17 and Matt Limbrunner’s 15.
The Knights were up 23-10 after one and 37-22 at the halftime buzzer before expanding the lead to 57-36 after three. The Dukes went on a 26-19 run in the fourth, but all for naught.
Against the rival Redskins, baskets by Dan Miller and Limbrunner made it 12-3 in favor of KHS with 2:14 remaining. Morris’ last bucket made it 12-5 before the end of the frame.
Kaneland converted all four shots from the field and went 5-for-7 from the line, going into halftime with a 27-18 lead.
KHS would only go two-for-nine from the foul line the rest of the way, however.
“(Free throws) have been a topic for about a month now,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.
Morris would make a charge and take a 36-34 lead with 2:20 to go in the quarter before John Pruett’s bucket tied the score.
Limbrunner’s basket with 1:34 to play sent the end of the frame into a 38-38 tie.
A Redskin three gave the hosts the lead for good at 41-38 with 6:23 to go, as the Knights were forced to play catch-up.
A three by Drew David with seven ticks left closed the lead to 48-46, but two free throws gave the game its final four-point margin.
“We were just poor on both ends of the floor and especially from the free throw line at the end. You’re playing at Morris. I was happy with what we did in the first half. The second quarter worried me a bit,” Johnson said.
The end of the regular season hits on Friday, Feb. 22, in Rochelle.
On Monday, Feb. 25, the Knights, the No. 3 seed in the IMSA Regional in Aurora, faces off against the host Titans at 7:30 p.m., with the winner facing St. Francis of Wheaton (No. 2) on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
Photo: Matt Limbrunner bends the rim on a dunk in the fourth quarter on Friday. Kaneland traveled to Yorkville and pulled out a win, 47-39. Photo by Patti Wilk
KHS stands at 14-6 as home stretch beckons by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The good news is Kaneland hasn’t felt what it’s like to be on the losing end of many games this season.
The bad news on Tuesday night was that the team received a reminder of what it does feel like to lose.
Dealing with a fast-paced West Chicago visitor on both ends of the floor, the Knights fell victim to a game that blew up in the third quarter. A mini-comeback got the score back to 54-43 by game’s end.
Kaneland did earn another needed Northern Illinois Big XII conference win on Friday night in Yorkville in a 48-39 affair.
KHS has its current mark at 14-6 (6-1 NIB-12).
On Tuesday, a pair of baskets by Dan Miller and another pair by John Pruett gave Kaneland an early 9-3 edge in the first quarter before West Chicago scored seven straight to close the quarter with a one-point lead.
A Tyler Carlson three-pointer made it 12-10 for the hosts. West Chicago tied it at 12 before a Pruett basket with 4:22 made it 14-12. Miller’s shot with 2:33 to go gave KHS its final lead at 16-15 in the second frame. The Wildcats scored the final six of the quarter for a 21-16 halftime lead, and outscored the Knights 21-10 to break the game open in the third.
While KHS outscored West Chicago 17-12 in the final eight minutes, the 27-10 run in the game’s middle spelled doom for the hosts.
“They made a lot of shots, they stepped up and knocked down shots,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I thought that was the difference; they shot with a lot of confidence. We weren’t very aggressive and didn’t do the things you need to do to win.”
Against Yorkville, Matt Limbrunner had a game-high 16, followed by 14 from guard Drew David.
David had three of the team’s six crucial trifectas.
The Knights and Foxes were tied at 14 after one quarter before KHS took a 33-28 lead at the half. The scoring slowed down with the Knights hanging to a 41-31 lead after three quarters.
Kaneland will host rival DeKalb on Friday, Feb. 8.
Photo: Drew David beats the defense to the basket in the first quarter against Sycamore on Tuesday. Drew went on to hit a 3-point buzzer-beater to win the game, 43-42. Photo by Patti Wilk
David’s clutch 3 beats rival Sycamore; KHS also downs L-P by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Your boys basketball team is 11-6, 5-1 in the Northern Illinois Big XII setting, and 10-2 in its last 12 contests.
Plays like the one that ended Tuesday’s win over Sycamore in Maple Park provide plenty of looks into why the Knights’ fortunes are turning positive.
With the Knights owning possession with 11.5 seconds remaining and down by two, Drew David eventually got the ball after several touches and sank a three-pointer with under two ticks left in the game.
The clock ran down before Sycamore could manage another play, resulting in a 43-42 win for the host Kaneland crew, which has won five straight.
“It’s a huge win, because they were a team we hadn’t beat yet,” David said. “We were trying to (get it to) Matt (Limbrunner) and try to get an easy layup, because they were switching the whole time, and they covered everything.”
David is used to similar finishes on the court, having helped defeat DeKalb with a late three pointer earlier in the season.
Sycamore enjoyed a 15-13 lead after one and a 28-21 lead after two frames.
Sycamore struck first again in the second half and had a 30-21 lead 31 seconds into the quarter, but two Limbrunner (12 points) buckets closed it to 30-25 with 5:42 remaining. Limbrunner struck again from inside with 3:56 to go to close within 32-27 with 3:56 to go.
Kaneland’s final flurry of the third frame included a David basket, Cole Carlson shot and a Limbrunner attempt off the glass to tie the score at 33 with 1:31 left. A Spartan three with 59.4 remaining to make it 36-33 before the buzzer.
The Spartans took a four-point lead in the fourth, but Limbrunner’s putback of a Tyler Carlson miss with 4:09 left closed it to 40-38, and a later attempt in the paint with 1:11 to go tied the score at 40.
Sycamore hit the front end of a free throw pair with 52.4 left, as well as with 22.5 left to enjoy a brief 42-40 edge before the final sequence.
“I told the boys at halftime that we had to try to get that lead to three going into the fourth and let the chips fall where they may,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “I think the boys did a nice job of doing that, and they were fighting and fighting. We had some key guys in foul trouble all night, and I thought some guys stepped up off the bench.”
In Saturday action, the Knights travelled to LaSalle County to face the L-P Cavaliers and left with a 34-32 win.
Only four Knights entered the scoring column, with Limbrunner totalling 14 and John Pruett 12
KHS had a 9-7 lead after one but went scoreless in the second quarter to fall behind 12-9 at the half. The Knights’ 19-10 flurry in the third had them up 28-22 at the horn before the final eight minutes.
The Golden Warriors of Sterling come through town on Saturday, Jan. 26, for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off.
Photo: Kaneland’s Tyler Carlson passes as a Burlington player goes down during Kaneland’s home contest on Saturday. The Knights defeated the Rockets 38-30. Photo by John DiDonna
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—The silver-and-black-clad Knights are making good on committing to excellence in 2013.
After splitting the last competition of 2012 in the 50th running of the Plano Christmas Classic, Kaneland got off to a nice start with the new year.
Kaneland handily solved a visiting Yorkville squad on Friday evening by a final of 51-30 and stifled a lineup from Burlington Central in Maple Park on Saturday by a final of 38-30.
KHS sits at 8-6 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) on the year, having won seven of its last nine.
In NIB-12 action against the Foxes, the Knights were paced by John Pruett’s 14 points, Matt Limbrunner’s 10 and Tyler Carlson’s 10.
After taking a 12-8 lead after the first eight minutes of play, YHS hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 12-11 23 seconds into the second quarter.
Limbrunner then hit two baskets, including one on a crisp pass down low from guard Drew David, to take a 16-11 lead with 6:10 to go.
Baskets by Dan Miller and Cole Carlson and two foul shots from Tyler Carlson gave KHS a 22-18 edge with two minutes to play in the half, the Foxes’ basket with 1:19 left closed the first-half scoring out at 22-20.
The third quarter saw the scales tip even more in the Knights’ favor as a mid-quarter flurry of baskets from Tyler Carlson, Limbrunner and a three-pointer from Pruett made it 31-22 with 2:28 to go. Yorkville missed six straight shots in the quarter at one point, while Limbrunner converted on two baskets and David hit a shot, giving KHS a 37-28 lead with 1:02 to go that closed out the scoring.
Yorkville hit just one of four shots in the fourth quarter, while Pruett hit the first three baskets of the quarter for KHS to give the hosts a 14-point lead.
“We know they ran their 2-2-1 press, and we were pretty much game planning that all week,” Pruett said. “Yorkville is good at getting pressure and turnovers, and we were just getting the ball down the floor.”
The lead grew to 21 on a three by freshman Dylan Vava with 1:26 to go, while Yorkville scored just two points in the frame.
“(Yorkville) did a good job early on at causing us to make some mistakes and not necessarily take care of the basketball, but it was nice to get a little bit of breathing space in the fourth quarter,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.
Limbrunner led the Knights with 16 in the comeback win over visiting BC, but the visitors enjoyed an 8-6 lead after one quarter. Kaneland powered through for a 19-16 lead at halftime before BC emerged with a 25-24 lead after three. KHS went on a 14-5 run encompassing the fourth quarter for the win.
Kaneland hosts rival Rochelle on Thursday, Jan. 10.
Kaneland point guard Drew David returned to the lineup after his injury that kept him out of the first six games. He helped the Knights come back against DeKalb, winning 50-45 on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Key 3 fuels comeback win at Barbs by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Perhaps the only group unhappy to see the return of Kaneland point guard Drew David was the group hosting the boys basketball game on Friday night.
It was David’s first game back from a wrist injury suffered during football season, and he lofted a successful three-pointer to give KHS a 46-45 lead with 43.6 seconds remaining.
The shot gave the Knights the lead for the rest of the contest and resulted in a 50-45 win over the host Barbs.
Kaneland is now 3-4 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).
The game featured Kaneland playing catch-up since the first quarter, facing as much as an eight-point deficit in the game.
The fourth frame saw KHS go 7-for-10 from the field and a string of six made shots in a row.
Matt Limbrunner paced the Knights with 16 points, followed by Tyler Carlson’s 11, John Pruett’s 10 and David’s eight.
“We were down the whole game, but the boys fought really hard,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Drew came up big toward the end, and it was a team effort. It was obviously nice having Drew back.”
DeKalb entered the fourth up 34-29, and Kaneland’s run began when Pruett’s putback off of a Dan Miller miss made it 39-35 with 4:05 remaining.
DeKalb made the first of two foul shots to make it a five-point game. Pruett’s shot made it 40-37 with 2:50 to go, and David hit his first trifecta with 1:58 remaining to neutralize a previous Barb three and make it 43-40.
Tyler Carlson’s basket 20 seconds later made it 43-42.
Miller’s foul shot tied it with 1:27 left before a Barb conversion tilted the lead back to the home team with 1:05 left.
David then hit the crucial three from the wing, and a similar attempt by DeKalb was for naught, allowing Pruett and David to hit four foul shots to cap the win.
“I don’t know, I’m pretty out of shape, but I was just trying to help the team win,” David said. “I just got cleared the other day and it’s (my hand is) pretty weak, so it’s kind of foreign for me, shooting right now.”
DeKalb had a 10-7 lead after one frame, and was up 20-16 after two quarters.
Kaneland sets off against Sandwich at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Dec. 22, in the first round of the Plano Christmas Classic. The winner faces Lisle on Wednesday, Dec. 26, at 3:30 p.m., while the loser faces either Newark or Burlington Central at 6:30 p.m.