Tag Archives: Matt Limbrunner

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Long-range game

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.

#10 gets hit

See-saw start to season

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After rough start, Knights baseball wins 4 of last 5
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s a case of slowly but surely for the boys in black.

After dropping its first five games of the year in Cardinals territory, the KHS baseball lineup may find its footing just yet.

The Knights won four of their last five, with a win over Plano on April 3 preceding a loss on Thursday in Rockton, Ill., against Hononegah. They added a Northern Illinois Big XII crossover win in Maple Park against Sterling and came through in a 6-4 win over Rochelle at home on Tuesday.

Following Tuesday’s win, KHS sits at 4-6 in the still-young season.

In the 6-5 win over Interstate Eight Conference mainstay Plano, it was a six-run fifth that did the trick for the Knights. The flurry was enough to withstand the five-run rally by the Reapers squad in the top of the seventh.

Josh Cohrs had a double, while Dan Miller and Matt Limbrunner had two RBI each.

Freshman callup Anthony Holubecki took the win, while Nick Stahl shut the seventh down for the save.

In the loss against NIC-10 school Hononegah, the Knight nine dropped a 4-0 result, as they managed just two hits on the afternoon, accomplished by Miller and Lane Davis.

Limbrunner was tagged with the loss on the mound.

In windswept conditions on Saturday, the Knights’ 1-0 win over the Golden Warriors was buoyed by just one hit, a Cohrs RBI double in the first inning, to win the affair.

Curtis Thorson powered through on the hill to earn the victory.

“(Sterling’s) always a very aggressive and competitive team,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “That win showed us a lot again. We still are figuring out a lineup, we got an incredible performance from Curtis Thorson that solidified our belief in his ability, and we proved that we are capable of winning the tight games and playing good defense when it counts.”

Holubecki came on in relief on Tuesday and notched another win, shutting down Rochelle in his two innings pitched, collecting a walk and a strikeout as well.

The Knights ran out to a 3-0 lead after two, before Rochelle battled back with two runs in each of the third and fourth innings. A three-RBI sixth inning gave Kaneland the winning edge.

Miller led the Kaneland hitters with a 2-for-3 day, with a run, RBI an a walk. John Hopkins also went 2-for-3, and Martinelli went 1-for-3, with two runs and a stolen base.

Kaneland concludes its series with NIB12 rival Rochelle in Ogle County on Wednesday and Thursday, April 10 and 11. Wednesday’s result was not available as of press time.

 

Boys hoops’ journey ends at Spartans’ hand

Photo: Guard Drew David is fouled while trying to get to the hoop during the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 43-32 loss to St. Francis at the Class 3A IMSA Regional Feb. 27.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Fourth quarter sees fortune upended in 11-point regional loss
by Mike Slodki
AURORA—If it weren’t for a tough fourth quarter, Kaneland boys basketball could be talking about a regional final in Aurora.

An evenly matched game at Illinois Math and Science Academy against the No. 2 seed St. Francis was a tight affair, until the Spartans made a run and stopped the Knights 43-32 on Feb. 27.

The game was rescheduled due to less-than-stellar travel conditions and snowfall on Feb. 26.

Kaneland’s road stops with a 16-12 record for 2012-13, after garnering 17 victories in each of coach Brian Johnson’s first three seasons.

In 2011-12, the Knights powered through to the sectional semifinal in Sycamore before losing to Rockford East.

Aurora Central Catholic pulled an upset over Wheaton Academy, 41-37, in the first game of the evening, while the 3A Regional final on Friday featured St. Francis taking the plaque over ACC by a 46-43 tally.

St. Francis was scheduled to face Sycamore in the Freeport Sectional on Wednesday.

Senior Dan Miller paced the Knights with 10 points, while fellow senior Matt Limbrunner added nine.

It was fitting that the last challenge was buoyed by the two lone seniors in coach Johnson’s program this year.

“Those two came from a sophomore team that went 24-1; you look forward to getting that group. They stick with it and everyone else kind of disappears. They stuck with the program and gave me all they had, and they were my first freshman class,” Johnson said.

Senior Tim Zettinger had a game-high 21 for St. Francis.

In the first frame, Tyler Carlson’s bucket and a later free throw gave KHS a 7-2 lead with 3:17 left, but the Spartans scored the last six points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating arc from Zettinger to fall behind 8-7.

Kaneland’s shooting touch disappeared the last half of the second quarter, with Limbrunner’s two foul shots breaking a 4:21 drought to close within 15-14. The Spartans’ bucket with 45.9 left extended the lead to 17-14 before halftime.

The Knights’ shooting touch picked up to give the lower seed a lift in the third quarter. Limbrunner hit a shot, followed by two from Miller and a baseline jumper from John Pruett that tied the score at 22-22 with 4:45 to go.

A feed from Limbrunner found Pruett to take the lead for KHS at 24-22 with 2:59. After a foul shot and steal and follow-through from St. Francis, a Limbrunner contested shot gave the Knights a 26-25 edge with 37.2 to go in the third quarter.

With both squads looking for their edge, Miller’s two free throws closed it to 29-28 after St. Francis took a lead.

Kaneland took its last lead of the game on a Limbrunner three with 4:15 to go for a 31-29 lead before St. Francis went on a 14-1 run to close the game. The Spartans went 7-for-8 from the foul line to help their cause. The final point of the season for KHS was a Drew David free throw with 1:16 remaining to close within 37-32.

“We didn’t hit shots down the stretch,” Johnson said. “We didn’t take care of the ball; there were a few times in the third quarter that hurt. Matt (Limbrunner) hit that three, and we got a lead. It could have went either way, and unfortunately it went against us.”

Conference Champs

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.

Dan Miller goes up for a shot and gets fouled in the first quarter of Kaneland's come-from-behind 69-66 victory at Rochelle Friday.  Photo by John DiDonna
Dan Miller goes up for a shot and gets fouled in the first quarter of Kaneland’s come-from-behind 69-66 victory at Rochelle Friday.
Photo by John DiDonna
Tom VanBogaert and Dan Miller fight for a loose ball in the first quarter at Rochelle on Friday. Kaneland pulled out a late victory, winning 69-66. Photo by John DiDonna
Tom VanBogaert and Dan Miller fight for a loose ball in the first quarter at Rochelle on Friday. Kaneland pulled out a late victory, winning 69-66.
Photo by John DiDonna
Tyler Carlson stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win. Photo by John DiDonna
Tyler Carlson stretches for a score in the second quarter against Rochelle last Friday. The varsity boys came back to pull out a 69-66 win.
Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's John Pruett (5) loses control and goes down while Tyler Carlson (10) comes to help in the third quarter of the varsity boy's 69-66 win at Rochelle on Friday. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s John Pruett (5) loses control and goes down while Tyler Carlson (10) comes to help in the third quarter of the varsity boy’s 69-66 win at Rochelle on Friday.
Photo by John DiDonna
Drew David gets a pass under a Rochelle defender in the third quarter during Kaneland's comeback win. Photo by John DiDonna
Drew David gets a pass under a Rochelle defender in the third quarter during Kaneland’s comeback win.
Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland's Matt Limbrunner maintains ball control to kill some time in the fourth quarter against Rochelle on Friday. The boys came from behind to win 69-66. Photo by John DiDonna
Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner maintains ball control to kill some time in the fourth quarter against Rochelle on Friday. The boys came from behind to win 69-66.
Photo by John DiDonna

Back on track

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.

John Pruett (5) and Tyler Carlson (10) grab a rebound in the fourth quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett (5) and Tyler Carlson (10) grab a rebound in the fourth quarter against St. Charles North on Feb. 12.
Photo by Patti Wilk
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
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
Kaneland's Matt Limbrunner executes a slam-dunk in the third quarter on Tuesday, February 12 against St. Charles North. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner executes a slam-dunk in the third quarter on Tuesday, February 12 against St. Charles North.
Photo by Patti Wilk
The intensity was there as Drew David drives down the court but Kaneland came up short against St. Charles North, losing 61-50. Photo by Patti Wilk
The intensity was there as Drew David drives down the court but Kaneland came up short against St. Charles North, losing 61-50.
Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett fights to get a shot off in the second quarter when Kaneland traveled to St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett fights to get a shot off in the second quarter when Kaneland traveled to St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson gets off a one-handed shot from the side in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12. Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson gets off a one-handed shot from the side in the third quarter against St. Charles North on Tuesday, February 12.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Rough patch

Photo: Tom VanBogaert, No. 21 (left to right), Tyler Carlson, No. 10 and Dan Miller, No. 22, fight for the ball under the basket in the first quarter of the Knights varsity home game against DeKalb on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Boys basketball losing streak hits 4
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Most teams hit a stretch of the season where it seems like a win can’t be bought.

Currently, Kaneland is in that quagmire, but time still remains to get back to the torrid winning levels of December and January.

The Knights saw their losing streak hit four games with three losses this week.

On Saturday, the Knights dropped a 66-46 bout with the host Wheaton Academy Warriors, while Friday saw DeKalb get revenge for a December loss to the Knights, 50-45 in Maple Park. Tuesday saw Kaneland fall to St. Charles North 61-50.

Kaneland is now 13-10 (6-2 Northern Illinois Big XII) as the Knights begin their final stretch of regular season games.

“These last two conference games are going to be difficult,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “They are against two quality teams in Morris and Rochelle. It makes it even more difficult since those games are on the road. We will see what we are made of.”

Against the Warriors, the Knights saw 16 points from Matt Limbrunner as the only double-figure output.

WA took an early 10-2 lead after the first quarter and extended the chasm to 26-12 at halftime. Kaneland held steady in the third quarter and the buzzer sounded with KHS down 42-28 before Wheaton Academy widened the lead by six to close the game out.

Wheaton Academy went 24-for-34 from the foul line to hurt Kaneland’s chances.

Against DeKalb, the Knights fell victim to just the fifth win all year for the visitors.

Dan Miller had a game-high 17 points in a losing cause.

Teammate John Pruett added 16. Kaneland was 13-for-19 from the foul line.

DHS took a 7-3 lead after one quarter of play, while the Knights battled back for a 17-16 lead going into the halftime break.

DeKalb took the upper hand in the third frame and took a 38-33 lead, before the 12-12 stalemate in the fourth quarter.

“DeKalb played an excellent game against us,” Johnson said. “They limited our looks at the basket on offense and penetrated our defense towards the end of the 4th quarter. It was a tough lose, but I was proud of how our seniors (Dan Miller and Matt Limbrunner) performed on their Senior Night.”

Against St. Charles North on Tuesday, Kaneland battled to a 28-28 tie at halftime. St. Charles North remained one step ahead of the Knights throughout the second half, opening up a six-point lead through the third and extending the lead to 11 by the end of the game.

Limbrunner led the way with 19 points, followed by Tyler Carlson’s 11.

The Knights take on host Morris on Friday, Feb. 15. Kaneland beat the Redskins on a Carlson layup back on Nov. 30, 2012.

Tom VanBogaert, No. 21 (left to right), Tyler Carlson, No. 10 and Dan Miller, No. 22, fight for the ball under the basket in the first quarter of the Knights varsity home game against DeKalb on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Tom VanBogaert, No. 21 (left to right), Tyler Carlson, No. 10 and Dan Miller, No. 22, fight for the ball under the basket in the first quarter of the Knights varsity home game against DeKalb on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Dan Miller gets jammed up after grabbing a rebound in the third quarter against DeKalb on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Dan Miller gets jammed up after grabbing a rebound in the third quarter against DeKalb on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland Junior Tom VanBogaert beats the DeKalb defenders to the basket in the third quarter at home on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland Junior Tom VanBogaert beats the DeKalb defenders to the basket in the third quarter at home on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner gets some points in the second quarter of Kaneland's home varsity game against DeKalb on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner gets some points in the second quarter of Kaneland’s home varsity game against DeKalb on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland's John Pruett (5) battles a DeKalb defender in the third quarter on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s John Pruett (5) battles a DeKalb defender in the third quarter on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Drew David gets a pass off to Tyler Carlson under the basket in the third quater when Kaneland faced DeKalb on Friday, February 8. Photo by Patti Wilk
Drew David gets a pass off to Tyler Carlson under the basket in the third quater when Kaneland faced DeKalb on Friday, February 8.
Photo by Patti Wilk

Boys downed by WC foe, beat Yorkville

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.

Kaneland's Drew David steals a pass from Yorkville in the second quarter of the Knight's 47-39 varsity win on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s Drew David steals a pass from Yorkville in the second quarter of the Knight’s 47-39 varsity win on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett goes up for a score in the second quarter of Kaneland's 47-29 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
John Pruett goes up for a score in the second quarter of Kaneland’s 47-29 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner bends the rim on a dunk in the fourth quarter on Friday, February 1. Kaneland traveled to Yorkville and pulled out a win, 47-39. Photo by Patti Wilk
Matt Limbrunner bends the rim on a dunk in the fourth quarter on Friday, February 1. Kaneland traveled to Yorkville and pulled out a win, 47-39.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland's Matt Limbrunner fights for the ball against Yorkville on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner fights for the ball against Yorkville on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson adds some points in the third quarter of Kaneland's 47-39 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1. Photo by Patti Wilk
Tyler Carlson adds some points in the third quarter of Kaneland’s 47-39 win at Yorkville on Friday, February 1.
Photo by Patti Wilk
Varsity Head Coach Brian Johnson, discussing strategy with assistant coaches and team during a fourth quarter timeout at Yorkville on Friday. Photo by Patti Wilk
Varsity Head Coach Brian Johnson, discussing strategy with assistant coaches and team during a fourth quarter timeout at Yorkville on Friday.
Photo by Patti Wilk

They’re rollin’

Photo: Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner scores two of his 22 points on the way
to beating Sterling on Saturday. Photos by John DiDonna

No need for last-second magic against Sterling
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—No mad celebrations on the floor were needed this time.

While slightly different than the dramatic win over rival Sycamore last week, the Knights came away happy with a big win over visiting Sterling, 60-33, on Saturday evening.

KHS improved to 12-6 (5-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) with the crossover victory, and has now won six in a row. The Knights have not lost since Dec. 29, 2012, at the Plano Classic.

“The team is truly playing as a team in all aspects of the word,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “They have grown to trust each other on the defensive end of the court and understand how to work well together offensively. This team is a hard-working group with a bunch of selfless individuals.”

Inside man Matt Limbrunner paced the victors with a game-high 22, while Tyler Carlson added 10.

“As for Matt, we expected a big year from him. He had a nice and productive summer. We were hoping that he would take the next step in his game and become a player that other teams would constantly have to worry about. We still think that he can do even more, but at this point he is playing very well,” Johnson said.

Before the Knights’ tip-off, Johnson and Co. recognized Rich and Nancy Miller with the fourth annual “Friend of the Program” award. The Millers, uncle and aunt to Knight player Dan Miller, are both Kaneland High School graduates. Rich and Nancy’s heavy and passionate involvement took to the stratosphere once the boys’ and girls’ teams made it to the 1982 State tournament.

Starting in 1986, Rich coached his son Denny’s team in the town league. This was the first year the league was put together, with the head coaches leading the charge.

From 1989-1992, Rich and Nancy became members of the Kaneland High School Boosters.

In 1991 and 1992 they proudly watched their son, Denny, as he competed on the varsity basketball team. On senior night, all the parents wore matching T-shirts onto the court.

During the 1996 season, Rich began keeping the scorebook for Kaneland High School basketball games, and continued to do so through 2004. Throughout those years, Rich also helped referee the Little Dribblers’ games in Maple Park and Elburn.

Kaneland travels to Yorkville on Friday, Feb. 1.

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Drew it up

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.

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Knights at hub of victory

Photo: John Pruett executes a leaping lay-up in the fourth quarter of Kaneland’s 65-62 home win against Rochelle on Thursday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Limbrunner, Pruett combine for 40 in NIB-12 win
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Eight out of 10 isn’t bad.

Outside of two setbacks at last month’s Plano Christmas Classic, the Knights don’t have a blemish on the slate since junior guard Drew David saw his way back into the lineup from injury.

The narrative continued on Thursday evening against the visiting Rochelle Hubs, as the Knights staged a 65-62 comeback win.

The win raises KHS prospects to 9-6 (4-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

“We still have a long way to go offensively. The nice thing about having Drew back is that we are taking care of the ball better. But our consistency needs to improve,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said.

Helped by a 16-for-24 evening at the line, compared to just four tries for the visitors, Kaneland beat its 2012 regional final opponent from a year ago. Matt Limbrunner had a game-high 23 points, to go with teammate John Pruett’s 17. Dan Miller added nine in the win.

The 65 points marks a team-high for 2012-13 thus far, and held up despite Rochelle’s mind-boggling 14 three-pointers. Grant Prusator had a team-high five treys.

Rochelle led 19-14 after one quarter and 40-29 at the end of the first half. Kaneland closed within 51-45 at the end of the third frame before making a 20-11 run spanning the fourth quarter.

Kaneland hopes the effort shows on the court in this second half of the season.

“The boys are buying into our defensive philosophy. They also work hard on a consistent basis,” Johnson said.

Kaneland travels to conference crossover adversary LaSalle-Peru on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

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Top-tier finish in Plano for boys hoops

Photo: Kaneland boys varsity beat Newark 54-35 on Dec. 27 at the Plano 50th annual Christmas Classic tournament. No. 22 Dan Miller goes up and over his opponents for a score. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
PLANO—Kaneland boys basketball is slowly but surely gelling again.

At the 50th running of the Plano Christmas Classic, that reality stood as an ominous warning to some teams and a statement of fact to the teams that bested the Knights.

Kaneland finished in fourth place, one spot worse than in 2011, but still continues to make strides with a healthy lineup and new faces.

Coupled with a win back on Dec. 22 against Sandwich, the Knights returned to action with a handy 47-29 win on Dec. 26, against sixth-seed Lisle. On Thursday, they handed Newark a 54-35 loss before losing to Ottawa on Friday, 60-50. Saturday’s third-place game saw Aurora Christian hand Kaneland a 54-46 loss.

Ottawa, a 10th seed, won the entire tournament with a 55-53 win over top-seed Belvidere on Saturday night.

With the 3-2 showing at the tourney, Kaneland’s record is now 6-6.

Against the Lisle Lions, Kaneland was led by Matt Limbrunner’s 23, Tyler Carlson’s 11 and John Pruett’s 10.

Two Limbrunner hoops gave KHS a 10-5 lead with under a minute left, but a technical foul on the Kaneland bench gave Lisle four foul shot attempts, only to convert on one of the tries. Kaneland led 10-8 at the first-quarter horn.

It was once again the Limbrunner show in the second quarter, with four of the five team baskets.

The senior was able to power down low to make it 19-12 with 3:02 to go in the half. After Lisle’s hoop 19 seconds later, Limbrunner went low for a 21-14 edge with 2:21 to play, closing out the first-half scoring.

KHS then went on a 13-4 run, taking care of the entire third frame. Back-to-back three pointers by Carlson grew the lead to 14 points with 29.1 left, and two Pruett foul shots with 15.8 to go made it 34-18 as the quarter wound down.

Baskets by Pruett and Limbrunner within the fourth quarter’s first minute made the lead 38-18, while free throws from Limbrunner, Dan Miller and Connor Fedderly iced the game.

Limbrunner and crew persevered against a higher seed and an up-tempo style of play for a handy win.

“It was nice; we knew they wanted to play fast,” Limbrunner said. “So we wanted to play our game, slow it down, and it worked out really well.”

KHS coach Brian Johnson was wary of the No. 6 seed in the Classic.

“We wanted to make sure we could control the tempo,” Johnson said. “Lisle is pretty athletic and big, and they want to get out and run.”

In the win over the Norsemen, Carlson paced the Knights with 16. Kaneland was ahead 15-3 after one frame and 26-18 at the halftime buzzer before leading 41-26 after three. KHS shot 17-for-38 in the win and 17-for-22 from the foul line.

In the loss against the eventual champ Pirates, Miller had a team-high 12, while Ottawa’s JD Bryant had 16 of his own.

Kaneland was plagued by a 19-for-53 day from the field. Ottawa was ahead 15-12 after one and 30-18 at the half before the Knights closed to within 39-33 after three.

Miller had a team-high 15 in the loss to the local rival Eagles in the tourney conclusion. Cory Windle had a game-high 16.

Kaneland was plagued by a 19-for-50 night from the field.

AC went up 22-9 after one frame and 36-24 after the first 16 minutes of play before the Knights closed to within 45-36, but a 10-9 fourth in favor of Kaneland wasn’t impactful enough.

Kaneland continues Northern Illinois Big XII action on Friday, Jan. 4, against visiting Yorkville.

Hot start

Follow the Plano Tournament at
RockCreekBall.com/Classic12.htm

Kaneland’s Tyler Carlson (10) steals the ball from the Sandwich players during the 50th annual Plano Classic on Saturday. Kaneland handled Sandwich easily in this game, winning 52-31. Photo by Patti Wilk

KHS boys trounce Sandwich in Plano Classic’s first round
KANELAND—It’s a tall order for an 11th seed to find glory in the Plano Christmas Classic, so Kaneland had to take it one step at a time at the tournament setting.

They did so on Saturday against Sandwich with a 52-31 victory during the first afternoon of the 50th edition of the tournament.

Winners of the entire tournament in 2009, KHS played No. 6 seed Lisle at 3:30 p.m., on Wednesday, with results unavailable at press time.

Kaneland (4-4) went 17-for-42 from the field and was paced by Tyler Carlson’s 19 points, John Pruett’s 12 and Matt Limbrunner’s 11.

Liam Crotty had eight for Sandwich.

Key in the winning effort was the Knights going 18-for-21 from the foul line, compared to 5-for-5 for the Indians.

KHS went 10-for-22 from the field in the second half.

Kaneland was up 10-8 after the first quarter, and 18-13 at the half before upping the lead to 30-22 after three. The Knights’ 22-9 run spanning the entire fourth quarter iced the first-round contest.

Drew drops in on DeKalb

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.

Boys step into pressure cooker

Photo: Kaneland varsity head coach Brian Johnson (right) tries to settle down his players in the third period at Sycamore. Photos by John DiDonna

Sycamore ‘D’ too much; KHS nabs win over H-BR
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—There would be no duplicating the last-second magic of late November like the Kaneland boys basketball team had against Morris. The host Sycamore Spartans made absolutely sure of that on Friday along Spartan Trail.

However, another game came down to the wire on Tuesday against Hinckley-Big Rock (H-BR), and this time the Knights came through in a 44-42 win.

Against Sycamore, a stingy press meant Kaneland was playing catch-up for the entire duration of the Northern Illinois Big XII meeting between the rival Knights and Spartans, with Sycamore earning a 60-46 win.

For Sycamore, Devin Mottet had 17 points, while KHS was paced by Matt Limbrunner’s 19. Dan Miller added nine.

Kaneland was 7-for-10 from the foul line.

A Tyler Carlson jumper with 4:24 remaining in the first deadlocked the affair at four apiece, but Sycamore went 4-for-5 from the field and made six foul shots to go up 19-7 at the end of the first, and continued its run into the next quarter to go up 23-7 before Miller’s offensive putback with 4:53 remaining in the half. Kaneland’s scoring drought lasted 5:20.

Down 27-11, the Knights went on a 9-2 run to close the half, thanks to a three-point play by Limbrunner, two foul shots by Bailey Harvell, two foul shots by Carlson and a basket by Limbrunner.

Sycamore’s fortunes were lifted by a fast tempo and key baskets by Mottet to go up 41-22 with 3:36 left.

Kaneland closed the third frame on an 8-2 run, stamped by a Cole Carlson putback with 22.6 to go.

Sycamore saw its lead go up to 15, but Kaneland got within 10 on four occasions, only to get no closer.

KHS coach Brian Johnson surveyed the difficult task with an improved Spartans contingent.

“This isn’t the Sycamore of the last few years; they’re a good team,” Johnson said. “They’re well coached and played extremely hard. We have to stick to our philosophy in beating those types of presses, and we didn’t really do it.”

Against H-BR, Kaneland used an 11-4 third quarter advantage to overcome a three-point halftime deficit to propel them to a much needed victory.

Matt Limbrunner led the team with 14 points, including three three-pointers. John Pruett added 12 points, and Carlson chipped in 10.

Kaneland now sits at 2-4 on the season. The Knights will battle host DeKalb Barbs on Friday, Dec. 14.

Tylertown!

Photo: Senior Dan Miller works some defense during the varsity boys exciting 32-31 comeback victory over Morris on Friday. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Carlson’s putback buzzer-beater gives KHS win No. 1
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was a case of right place, right time for Kaneland junior Tyler Carlson.

But that ending sequence couldn’t have taken place without a battling mentality, which helped the Knights crawl back the entire game against Morris on Friday night.

Carlson’s (four points) rebound and putback off the glass after a John Pruett (11 points) three-point miss gave Kaneland a 32-31 win over Morris in Northern Illinois Big XII action.

It was the first win of the young season for the Knight unit after a hard-luck 0-3 start.

“I just saw the shot go up and it was the right place at the right time,” Carlson said. “It was my first buzzer-beater and it felt pretty good.”

Morris fell to 2-2 with the setback.

The fourth quarter marked the first time Kaneland actually had a lead after a three-point play by Dan Miller made it 27-26 with 6:20 remaining. Pruett connected on a foul shot with 4:47 to go to make it 28-26 before a Ben Ortiz basket with 4:10 to go tied the game.

Ortiz’ three-pointer with 1:18 to go gave Morris a 31-28 edge, setting up the final exchange.

Two missed shots by Kaneland hindered a comeback attempt, but Miller’s two charity stripe shots with 57.5 to go made it 31-30.

KHS got the ball back, but a time out was called with 17.7 seconds to go after no shot opportunities opened up, setting the stage for the final sequence.

“The last one was a lucky one,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “Ty just happened to crash and got the ball and barely got it off. We’re very fortunate to come away with the win.”

Morris led 13-7 after one quarter. A three-point play by Pruett with 2:38 remaining closed within 10-7 before an Evan Bjelland three with 58.7 to go upped the lead to six.

Morris led by as much as seven in the second quarter, but baskets by Pruett and Matt Limbrunner closed it to 18-14 with 34.9 remaining in the half.

Kaneland kept matters close, and a Miller basket with 3:15 to go in the third made it 23-22 before a Bjelland three with 33.3 to go set the stage for the final frame.

Sycamore represents the next challenge for KHS, in a match-up along Spartan Trail on Saturday, Dec. 8.

Knight boys have early uphill climb

Photo: Tyler Carlson goes up for a shot to close up the score against Crystal Lake South on Friday at Batavia. Photo by John DiDonna

KHS drops first 3 contests as part of Windmill Invite
KANELAND—Good news for Kaneland boys basketball is that it’s still November.

The bad news is there will be time spent negating the rough start in November.

With the season beginning in Batavia as part of the popular Windmill City Basketball Classic, Kaneland dropped a 47-45 game to the host Bulldogs on Nov. 21, a loss to Crystal Lake South, 63-55 on Friday, and a 63-50 loss to St. Francis on Saturday to set its mark at 0-3.

Against Batavia, Tyler Carlson led KHS with 13 points, followed by nine from Connor Fedderly.

Batavia was enjoying a 9-2 lead after one quarter before the Knights stormed back to 21-21 at the halftime buzzer. Hoops matters were deadlocked at 34 apiece going into the final frame.

KHS was 12-for-16 from the foul line on the evening.

The Knights couldn’t solve the Gators of Crystal Lake South despite the best intentions of Matt Limbrunner, who had 26 points, leading to the encounter with the Wheaton-based Spartans.

In the 13-point setback, John Pruett had 20, while Limbrunner added 11, including two three-pointers. The Knights were 17-of-25 from the charity stripe.

Kaneland and St. Francis were tied at 15 after one quarter of play, but the Spartans took a 33-26 lead at the end of the second quarter. The Knights saw the lead balloon after three to 57-38 before the final shrinking margin.

KHS coach Brian Johnson isn’t dismayed with the effort put forth, and the prospect still exists in the young 2012-13 campaign to turn the team’s fortunes.

“At this point in the season we are still trying to mix and match and see what line-ups have success during different times of each game,” Johnson said. “The boys have done a nice job of staying focused and putting forth their best effort thus far.”

Up next for Kaneland: a home matchup with Grundy County rival Morris on Friday, Nov. 30.

Winter Sports Preview: Season of change

Knight cagers hope returnees lead team full of newcomers
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—There seems to be a wrinkle at the beginning of every Kaneland High School boys basketball season.

In 2009-10, Dave Dudzinski ran roughshod over the area, while in 2010-11, the Knights captured their first conference title since the Reagan administration. And in 2011-12, the Knights benefited from all-Northern Illinois Big XII selection and West Aurora transfer Marcel Neil and secured a Regional plaque.

Now, coach Brian Johnson has to prepare a group for a similar postseason run like the one that advanced to the Sycamore Sectional semifinal, but without personnel like Neil (at Kishwaukee Junior College) and junior Thomas Williams, who transferred to Texas.

“There’s been a lot of change, even from just the summer when we had Thomas, but we have some boys that have put in a lot of hard work,” Johnson said.

Among the group of hard-workers Johnson is talking about are senior guard Dan Miller and senior forward Matt Limbrunner, the two oldest reps on the Knight squad. The Knights will also expect heavy contributions from junior forward John Pruett and junior guard Tyler Carlson.

“Those guys have put in a lot of time. They’re good athletes and good kids. People ask me what type of team we’ll have and I don’t know yet,” Johnson said. “Last year, we could attack the rim, and we rebounded fairly well. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do all those things this year.”

Adding to the question pile is the health of third-year point guard Drew David, still on the mend after football bumps and bruises.

“It’ll be nice having Drew back in his third year at the point, and Tyler and John practiced with us all year and they know what we’re expecting,” Johnson said.

Also looking to contribute with varsity minutes in 2012-13 are sophomore guard Connor Fedderly and fellow sophomore guard Ben Barnes, junior forward Tom VanBogaert, junior guard Bailey Harvell and junior forward Cole Carlson, who saw quality summer minutes.

The Knights also bring a freshman guard into the mix in the form of Dylan Vaca.

“They’ll fill their roles as best they can and see some successes. This year, we’re going to have to be a team in every meaning of the word. That’s one thing I’ve really noticed, is we don’t necessarily have those go-to guys; they all work really well together,” Johnson said.

When it comes to the hierarchy of the NIB-12 and the odds of getting to a second conference title in three seasons, Johnson knows Kaneland must wade through several capable teams.

“DeKalb’s coming back with a really nice player in Andre Harris. Rochelle has their two guards that are very solid players. They’re good teams and are at the top of our league, and Yorkville did a really nice job last year,” Johnson said.

Action got underway on Wednesday at the Batavia Windmill Classic, with results unavailable as of press time against the hosts. The home opener is Friday, Nov. 30, against Morris, with the Knights once again making a stop at the Plano Christmas Classic, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 22.

KHS baseball in regional semi

Photo: Joe Komel, handling first base duties for Kaneland High School’s summer league squadron, is shown moving toward home with the ball in play during last week’s action in Batavia.The summer homestretch began on Monday with a 6-1 win over Harlem High School on Monday. File Photo

KANELAND—It’s not the spring athletic season, but there’s still things to play for if your Kaneland High School baseball.

The Knight boys played a 26-game summer season before entering regional action, hosted by St. Charles East High School.

Things are looking up for the KHS lineup, as the ninth-seeded local outfit earned a 6-1 win over Machesney Park’s Harlem Huskies on Monday—a win over the eighth seed.

Kaneland followed that up with a 6-5, nine-inning win over the the top seed Rock Island Rocks on Tuesday afternoon.

It was set to lead to a battle in the summer regional semifinal at St. Charles East High School on Wednesday against the host Saints.

St. Charles East is the fifth seed and had victories over Marmion Academy and Geneva as notches in the belt.

Matt Limbrunner and Blake Sowell earned the wins this week.

Baseball wins third straight conference title

Photo: Shortstop Trever Heinle saves the ball from the outfield on a high throw while a Yorkville player steals second during a recent Kaneland-Yorkville game. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—This is getting to be old hat for the Kaneland Knights baseball team.

But that hat is representing a crown right now, based on Northern Illinois Big XII East Division supremacy.

With a Thursday win in Morris, the Knights officially secured an outright title, making it the third year in a row for a conference title.

Kaneland won the first ever NIB-12 title last year enroute to a State championship, and also captured the last Western Sun Conference title in 2010.

With the win over Morris, coupled with a May 9 win over the host Redskins, a 2-0 loss to LaSalle-Peru on Saturday and a 9-3 win at Sterling on Monday, the Knights are 21-9 with a 13-2 NIB-12 mark.

Against Sterling, the Knights scored in every inning but the fourth and seventh in the win over the Golden Warriors.

Taking advantage of four errors, the Knights were paced in the batters box by Jake Razo, who went 2-for-4 with a double and triple, along with Quinn Buschbacher’s 2-for-3 day with a home run.

Matt Limbrunner earned the win, going six innings and fanning three.

Kaneland and the Cavaliers were deadlocked for eight innings before L-P scored two in the ninth for the win.

Brian VanBogaert took the loss in relief to go 5-3, while Tom Fox went 2-for-4, securing two of the team’s hits.

In the conference clincher over the host Redskins in Grundy County, Kaneland clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to score one in the fifth and two in the sixth, thanks to Ray Barry’s bat.

Buschbacher also went 1-for-2 with a run scored.

Brian VanBogaert took the win in relief and improved to 5-2.

In the May 9 win in Morris, Kaneland’s two-run fifth broke a 2-2 tie, and Trevor Storck’s complete-game effort improved his mark to 5-0. Storck struck out seven and scattered just six hits.

Razo went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored.

With a conference title in the books, KHS coach Brian Aversa looks for the pitching staff to keep plugging along, no matter what role.

“The roles of the pitching staff are still pretty fluid. Right now Hopkins and Storck are the two guys we are starting. VanBogaert and Limbrunner can start or relieve along with (Jordan) Jones. Things are shaping up kind of like last year as John being a pretty dominant pitcher and Storck as well with keeping runs off the board,” Aversa said.

Kaneland was scheduled to face Cary-Grove in a road game on Thursday, May 17.

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KHS baseball heads to
Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva
to play Batavia in a special Pack the Park
Senior Night on Friday, May 18.
Sophomores play at 4:30 p.m., varsity will follow.
Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for high school,
middle school students, $3 for elementary students,
free for children 3 and under.
Proceeds benefit Kaneland teacher Bridget Sweeney and her family. Sweeney is battling cancer.

Knight baseball riding 1st-place wave

Photo: Quinn Buschbacher beats the ball to first in the sixth inning of Kaneland’s 1-0 home win over Morris on Tuesday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Aversa’s troops in NIB-12 drivers seat

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Kaneland has had Sycamore’s number on the baseball field as of late, including last year’s regional title win.

On Thursday and Friday, Kaneland’s number of 10 was good enough for a win in both contests.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Knights even won without the benefit of a hit against Morris at KHS.

Against Morris, the Knights were the beneficiary of nine walks, and the lone run in the first inning scored on a balk, allowing Ray Barry to score.

John Hopkins earned the win with a complete-game shutout, in which he fanned seven.

It took just six innings for KHS to vanquish the Spartans in Maple Park by a final of 10-0 on Friday, and the Knights needed a run-filled top of the seventh inning to put away host Sycamore on May 3.

The Knights sit at 18-8 with an exemplary 11-2 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII play, good for first place. They have a one-game edge over the Yorkville Foxes with two conference games remaining

Matt Limbrunner earned the win in the Thursday rout and improved to 2-0 with a five-hit shutout. The tall right-hander struck out six in the victory.

Tom Fox went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Quinn Buschbacher had an RBI triple and two runs scored.

On May 3, Bryan VanBogaert earned the win in a relief effort, going 2.1 innings and allowing just one run and one hit.

Limbrunner retired the final batter to earn a save.

Up 3-1 after three innings, Kaneland surrendered two runs to Sycamore in the fourth and a run in the fifth to trail 4-3. Kaneland proceeded to score seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 10-4 lead. Sycamore’s four-run seventh failed to complete the comeback for the final 10-8 margin.

Jake Razo went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Fox went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

“We are looking for consistency now,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “The bats are there, they just have to show up everyday.

The Knights look to continue the win streak in more NIB-12 conference action in Morris, on Thursday, May 10.

Baseball holds own in NIB-12 conference play

Photo: Second baseman Joe Pollastrini tries to turn a double play in the fourth inning, but the ball was just a little late getting to first baseman Jordan Jones during Kaneland’s home game against Yorkville on Monday. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Much like last year, the Knight nine are taking care of business as the calendar turns pages on the season.

Wins over Yorkville, Wheaton Academy and DeKalb have the first-place KHS baseball crew feeling quite good.

Kaneland’s (14-7, 7-1 Northern Illinois Big XII) steady pitching went well with just enough hitting on Thursday in DeKalb.

The 2-1 victory was earned with a single run in the second and fifth innings, and Matt Limbrunner (1-0) took the win in a starting assignment. The tall right-hander went 6.2 innings and allowed no earned runs on four hits.

Ray Barry swiped three bases and scored both runs, while Jordan Jones produced an RBI.

In a 6-0 Saturday shutout of Wheaton Academy, the Knights got help on the mound from Jones, who went five innings and allowed four hits. Barry went 2-for-4 and swiped three more bases, along with his double and two RBI, while Tyler Heinle went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run.

On Monday, the Knights engineered an 8-6 win against the Yorkville Foxes. Down 3-1 in the third, KHS scored two in the third and four in the fourth for a lead before YHS tied matters with runs in the fifth and sixth. Kaneland’s two-run sixth gave the the hosts the edge.

Bryan VanBogaert improved to 2-1 with a win in relief, while Jordan Jones earned the save in a perfect seventh inning.

Tom Fox was 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and three RBI, while Joe Pollastrini was 2-for-2 with two doubles and a walk.

In Kendall County, the Knights erased a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the top of the seventh to subdue the Foxes.

Trevor Storck improved to 4-0 on the year with a six hitter, in which he allowed just two earned runs.

Tyler Heinle went 1-for-3 with a run scored, as did brother Trever Heinle.

The Knights are at Yorkville on Thursday, April 26.

No decay in Decatur area for Knights baseball

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Spring break stories for Kaneland baseball will feature impressive displays against teams from Decatur, Ill.

Going to the former stomping grounds of KHS coach Brian Aversa—Millikin University, the Knights beat Decatur’s Eisenhower High School on March 28, plus handed Decatur’s MacArthur High School a loss on Thursday.

Kaneland also took it to host Harlem in Machesney Park, Ill., by a final of 3-1 on Monday to raise its overall mark to 6-4 in 2012.

In the 15-2, five-inning win over Eisenhower, Drew Peters earned his first win of the year (1-1), and the Knights put up five runs in the first and five in the fifth to bookend the barrage.

Jake Razo went 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBI, while Zach Martinelli smacked a two-run triple.

Against Decatur’s MacArthur team, the Knights put up seven runs in the top of the first inning, needing all of those runs as the hosts crawled back enough to make it a closer 11-7 win for Kaneland.

Bryan VanBogeart, with three innings of relief, took the win with five strikeouts to its credit.
Peters went 1-for-2 at the plate for the victorious Knights.

It was not as kind a day for Peters on the mound on Friday against host Washington High School. The lefty went 4.2 innings and gave up four runs, but just two earned, in an 8-3 setback. The hurler did fan nine batters.

John Hopkins went 1-for-4 with two RBI.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning, Washington came back with a four-spot in the fifth and sixth innings to cinch things.

Against the Harlem Huskies, Kaneland’s offensive attack involved a run in the second and two runs in the fourth to break a tie.

VanBogaert’s outing of just three hits allowed was enough to get the win on the mound, and Matt Limbrunner’s two-inning outing earned him the save.

Quinn Buschbacher went 2-for-2 with a double and two stolen bases.

KHS next battles Rockton’s Hononegah High School locally on Thursday, April 5.

Kaneland then heads to Dixon High School to face the Dukes in NIB-12 crossover action on Saturday, April 7, to the site of the 2011 sectional championship grab—Rochelle, on Monday, April 9, and back home to host the purple-clad Hubs on Tuesday, April 10.

In other levels of Kaneland Knights diamond action, the Knight sophomores fell to West Aurora on Monday by a final of 8-6.

Tom Van Bogaert went 1-for-1 with a walk. Tyler Carlson went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI, and Nate Hopkins had a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a walk and a run scored. The sophomore Knights still search for their first win after three opening losses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knight hoops splits vs. Nazareth, DeKalb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys conquer home floors of Rochelle, Geneseo


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaneland rebounds from loss in Yorkville with win at Burlington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys hoops puts clamp on Spartans, H-BR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sycamore produced no players in double figures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knight boys hoops hope to repeat NIB-12 glory

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

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

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

What wrinkle shows itself in the 2011-12 campaign?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson takes pride in the team’s court awareness.

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

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

Knights baseball (7-4) a perfect “10” against Rochelle lineup

KANELAND—Kaneland baseball came back from an early deficit in spades against the host Hubs.

On April 13, KHS used a four-run third and a three-run seventh inning to overtake Rochelle by a 10-6 clip.

The Knights’s current mark is 7-4 with a 3-0 record in the Northern Illinois Big XII conference.

Saturday’s scheduled outing against Oswego was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Against the Hubs on Wednesday, Rochelle took a 3-1 lead after two innings before Kaneland put up four in the third and two more in the fourth for a 7-3 lead. Rochelle came back with two in the bottom of the inning and one in the fifth to cut it to 7-6 before the three-run outburst by the Knights.

Starting pitcher Sam Komel improved to 3-0 with two strikeouts to his name, and Kyle Davidson earned his second save.

Outfielder Joe Camiliere went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI, while Davidson went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double.

In sophomore action, Matt Limbrunner got his first win of the season on the mound, and also went 2-for-3 with two RBI at the plate in a 10-3 win over Rochelle on April 13.

The varsity contingent was scheduled to head to DeKalb for a rain makeup contest on Wednesday, and will also host the Barbs on Thursday, April 21, at 4:30 p.m.

KHS boys split final 2 games in Plano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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