Tag Archives: Matt Spitzzeri

KHS spring sports awards put fitting cap on 2010-11

KANELAND—Coming a little later due to the storybook run of Kaneland baseball, KHS released its spring sports awards for 2010-11, highlighting a successful first step into Northern Illinois Big XII play.

In girls track, Lauren Zick and Andie Strang took home the co-MVP for track, while Brooke Patterson was named MVP on the field end. For most improved, Abby Dodis and Briana Stark took home the honor.

Sydney Bilotta, Strang, Kris Bowen, Jessica Stouffer and Keara Palpant were recognized as captains.

Zick and Patterson were joined by Gabby Aguirre as part of the Northern Illinois Big XII (NIB-12) All-Conference squad. Strang (1600 meter run, 4x800m relay), Bowen (4x800m relay), Patterson (pole vault), Sydney Strang (4x800m relay) and Zick (400m dash, 4x800m relay) were also recognized for their State trip.

For boys track, Taylor Andrews and Tommy Whittaker were named track MVP’s, while teammate Matt Spitzzeri took the field MVP. Curtis Secrest was given the Drendel Award.

Secrest, Trevor Holm, Whittaker, Andrews, Matt Cowans and Spitzzeri were recognized as captains, and Kory Harner took the Ron Probst Award.

The NIB-12 also named Andrews, Spitzzeri, Whittaker, Holm, Brandon Cottier, Mickey Marin and Jesse Balluff as part of the All-Conference squad.

Harner, Marin, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige, Balluff, Brandon Bishop, Dylan Nauert, Sean Carter, Holm, Cottier, Whittaker, Andrews and Secrest were all recognized for their State qualifying efforts.

In soccer, Emily Heimerdinger secured an All-State honor, capping her four-year output in style, while also named the NIB-12 MVP. The Class of 2011 member was also named co-MVP for the Lady Knights with teammate Amy Fabrizius.

Conference-wide, Heimerdinger, Fabrizius, Sophia Blank and Sam Wantuch were named to the All-Conference team.

Katie Taylor earned the Lady Knights Award, while Blank took home the Coach’s Award.

Keeper Michelle Ortiz was named Rookie of the Year, while Wantuch was named Most Improved Player for the roster that made it to the regional championship. Blank, Fabrizius, Heimerdinger and Taylor were also recognized as captains.

In softball, McKinzie Mangers and Andrea Potts were recognized as captains, while Allyson O’Herron took home the Lady Knight Award.

Potts was also named the Offensive Player of the Year.

Alexis Villarreal was named Most Improved Player for her efforts on the mound, and teammate Rilee Vest was named Defensive Player of the Year for the Lady Knights softball unit.

Additionally, Potts was a unanimous selection to the NIB-12 All-Conference team as an infielder. Vest and Katy Dudzinski were named as honorable mention candidates.

For the State Champion Knights baseball program, Bobby Thorson was named team Offensive MVP.

Kyle Davidson, Jake Razo and Brian Dixon took the Defensive MVP awards, and Dixon, Razo and Tyler Heinle were named Most Improved Players.

The No. 41 award was given to Sam Komel, Corey Landers and Dixon.

Mr. Kaneland Baseball was given out to the whole of the 2011 Class 3A State winners.

Additionally, Kaneland held the Senior Athletic Banquet Awards in June, giving the Knight Award for three-sport athletes to Stouffer, Strang and Davidson.

Strang was named female athlete of the year, while Andrews was named male athlete of the year. Strang also won the female Birkette Award, while the male Birkette Award went to Curtis Secrest.

Taylor-made: Senior is Class 2A 110m hurdle champ

Photo: Senior Taylor Andrews (left), here running the 4x400m Relay in Friday’s prelims, set a state record in the 110m High Hurdles Friday, only to break it again Saturday during the IHSA State Track and Field Finals. Andrews won the event in 14.27 seconds, .10 seconds ahead of second place. Photo by Marshall Farthing

CHARLESTON—West Point wants the best and brightest.

It’s a good thing, because Knights senior Taylor Andrews showed he not only has those traits, but it also among the fastest.

Andrews set the Illinois boys track 2A State record with a 110 meter hurdles time of 14.27 seconds, .10 seconds ahead of Peoria Richwood’s Clayton Glasper.

Andrews also won his preliminary heat with 14.34 seconds worth of speed, also a record.

Andrews runs on the heels of 2010 State champs Nick Sinon in the high jump and the 4x400m relay.

A year ago, coach Eric Baron’s crew finished second in Class 2A. In 2011, it finished tied for 16th with 18 points, deadlocked with Mahomet-Seymour and Springfield’s Lanphier High School.

Cahokia (62 points), Glenwood (44) and Glenbard South (40) rounded out the top three.

Other finalists at Eastern Illinois University for the Knights was the 4x100m relay team of Jessee Balluff, Brandon Cottier, Andrews and Tommy Whittaker, as they finished sixth at 42.59 seconds.

The foursome won its preliminary heat at 43:03 seconds.

Additionally, Whittaker found himself sixth in the state in the 400m dash event, after racing in 50.21 seconds, capping his senior campaign. Whittaker finished third in his preliminary heat with a time of 50.13.

Fellow senior standout Trevor Holm finished 10th in the finals in the 1600m run, at 4:24.51. Holm was sixth in the preliminaries at 4:23.22.

Fellow state qualifiers included personnel like Kory Harner, whose pole vault effort was 13 feet.

The 4x800m relay team of Mickey Marin, Luis Acosta, Clayton Brundige and Holm was fifth in its heat at 8:18.84.

Whittaker ran a 11.18 in the 100m dash prelims. Curtis Secrest, Sean Carter, Brandon Bishop and Cottier ran a 1:31.46 in the 4x200m relay prelims.

Knight Dylan Nauert, who qualified at Sectionals by .01 seconds, finished the 300m hurdles in 40.67 seconds.

Cottier, Secrest, Andrews and Whittaker finished the 4x400m prelims at 3:23.36.

Kaneland boys track now says goodbye to Andrews, Doug Bade, Holm, Trevor Schramer, Secrest, Matt Spitzzeri and Whittaker due to graduation.

Boys track stakes claim to NIB-12 title

OTTAWA—The venue name of Friday’s Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet was appropriate—King Field.

Because that’s the level of performance put forth by Kaneland boys track.

With 122 points, Kaneland was far and away the winner of the meet, followed by host Ottawa (80) and Sterling (80). Yorkville and Dixon, both with 65 team points, rounded out the top five.

For field events, senior Matt Spitzzeri finished second in the triple jump with an effort of 41 feet, nine inches.

On the track side, the KHS group of Taylor Andrews, Jesse Balluf, Brandon Cottier and Tommy Whittaker won the 4x100m relay in 44.23 seconds.

Senior standout Trevor Holm was conference champ in the 3200m run with a time of 9:49.42.

Andrews added to his belt notches with a 14.45 second effort in the 110m hurdles, winning the race.

Whittaker’s time of 11.07 in the 100m dash was good enough for the NIB-12 win. Teammate Mickey Marin won the 800m run with a time of 2:03.66.

In the 4x200m relay, Kaneland’s crew of Balluf, Sean Carter, Cottier and Curtis Secrest took second with a time of 1:33.80.

Andrews also blazed by the field in the 300m low hurdles with a time of 39.90 seconds, beating Dixon’s Ricky Laskowski by .32.

The 4x400m relay saw KHS runners Andrews, Cottier, Secrest and Whittaker finish second at 3:28.22.

The Knights’ next challenge is on Thursday, May 19, at 4 p.m. for the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional.

Knights boys track visits 93-year old friend

by Mike Slodki
STREAMWOOD, Ill.—Millenium Field housed some Kaneland boys track performances to take notice of on Friday.

Perhaps the most pleasant conditions for a boys track meet this season was as good a reason as any for people to enjoy the 93rd annual Kane County Boys Track and Field Meet.

“I was worried the kids might fall over without wind or rain in their face today,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “The tradition and pagaentry of the Kane County Meet, it’s one of the best meets, if not the best in the entire state.”

Hosted by Elgin High School at the Streamwood, Ill. locale, West Aurora ran away with the meet points count at 109.5 points. Batavia finished second at 82.5 points, followed by St. Charles North at 62 and the Knights at 57 points, good for fourth.

St. Charles East (49), Burlington Central (45.5) and Geneva (41) rounded out the top seven.

The lone Kane County Meet champion brandishing the 1970s retro orange track get-up on Friday was senior stalwart Taylor Andrews, who captured the 110 meter hurdles crown with a 14.38 second time in the finals. Andrews, who bested Batavia’s Rob Mohr by .14 seconds, also aced the prelims with a time of 14.69.

Kaneland’s 4x100m relay finished in second with a time of 43.36, and its 4x400m relay took second with a time of 3:24.98.

Third places went to the 4x800m relay foursome that ran in 8:08.37.

Senior anchor Tommy Whittaker was third in the 100m dash finals at 11.28 seconds. Whittaker also used his speed to take third in the 400m dash with an effort of 50.12 seconds.

Andrews also gathered a fourth place in the 300m hurdles in 39.48 seconds.

Teammate Trevor Holm also brought his name into the conversation with a fourth-place, 4:31.23 finish in the 1600m run.

Junior Frankie Furco represented Kaneland in the field events quite well with a fourth in the high jump (5 feet, 11 inches).

With a good showing against powerful Kane County-arrea squads, KHS coach Eric Baron likes where his team is situated with the regular season clock counting down to zero.

“I pulled my seniors aside and told them they had to get it going, and Tommy Whittaker just dominated his heat in the prelim. We know what were going to get out of our seniors, and the young guys will just catch on,” Baron said.

Field asset Matt Spitzzeri finished sixth in the triple jump with a tally of 42-07.75.

“I’ve been focusing on it more this year,” Spitzzeri said. “We’re doing pretty well, and when the seniors do good, it can give the young guys more confidence.”

Kaneland battles familiar competition in the first-ever Northern Illinois Big XII Conference meet in Ottawa, Ill., on Friday, May 13, at 5 p.m.

2nd place at Peterson Prep shows Kaneland’s talent

Photo: Taylor Andrews looks like he could hurdle all the way to West Point during action on Tuesday.The senior also made sure the 110m high hurdles honor stayed in Maple Park with a first-place showing of 14.66 seconds. Andrews was also part of the winning 4x100m relay foursome with Jesse Balluf, Brandon Cottier and Tommy Whittaker. Photo by
Mike Slodki

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Out of 14 teams, Kaneland boys track was second to one.

The Knights’ 98 points were filled with great performances during Saturday’s annual Peterson Prep boys track outing, but West Aurora, with 133 points, was even better.

Mount Carmel finished third at 93 points. Fellow NIB-12 schools included Yorkville in sixth at 44 points, DeKalb in eighth at 16 points and Sycamore in ninth at 15 points.

Tommy Whittaker got things started with a second-place finish in the 200m dash with a time of 22.50 seconds, and also took second in the 400m dash with a time of 51.33.

Teammate Trevor Holm took third in the 800m run at 2:01.38, and a second in the 1600m run at 4:39.71.

Taylor Andrews was champion of the 110m high hurdles at 14.66.

At this point of the season, Andrews is far from done working on his craft.

“It’s going pretty good, I’m just trying to work every day with the coaches,” Andrews said. “We’ve got a good team, and the young guys are really stepping up.”

Despite the productive season, Andrews feels a couple of events can get even better.

“The 300m, definitely. That’s always a race I kind of struggle with,” Andrews said during Tuesday’s 103-21 dual win in Maple Park over DeKalb.

In the 4x100m relay, Jesse Balluf, Brandon Cottier, Andrews and Whittaker were tops at 44.57 seconds, while Andrew Essex, Cottier, Balluf and Curtis Secrest took the 4x200m event at 1:34.51.

Pole vault activity included Kory Harner’s third-pace finish at 11-06.

Matt Spitzzeri continued his positive trajectory this year in the triple jump, taking the crown at 41-05.

The Knights face varied competition at the Crystal Lake Central Invite on Friday, April 29, at 5 p.m.

Triple your fun—Peterson Prep this Saturday

Triple jumper Matt Spitzzeri will be among the Knights carving out a niche in the field events at Saturday’s 42nd annual Peterson Prep at Kaneland High School. Spitzerri is also riding a wave of long jump momentum, having jumped 18 feet, nine inches at Sycamore two weeks ago. The Knights took their second consecutive Prep crown a year ago, with 100 points, over Geneva and West Aurora. Photo by John DiDonna

Andrews, Spittzeri and relays conquer Sycamore

KANELAND—What did a textbook Kaneland-Sycamore dual meet on Tuesday hold for curious fans?

How about a convincing 98-51 Northern Illinois Big XII win and a Kaneland school record in the hurdles.

Taylor Andrews, bound for West Point in the fall, broke his own school mark in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.3 seconds.

Other firsts went to Matt Spitzzeri in the long jump (18-09), Marshall Farthing in the high jump (5-8), Alex Gil in the pole vault (11 feet) and Trevor Holm in the 3200m run (10:33.73).

The Kaneland relays in the 4x800m, 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 also took firsts.

“A lot of people have stepped up so far, especially underclassmen,” Knight Tommy Whittaker said. “I don’t think we have any holes. I honestly don’t think it’s a rebuilding year, it’s a reloading year.”

Whittaker will be counted upon for a mid-to-late season surge.

“I want my strongest event to be the 4×4 because we have a tradition of being so good in it. I think the 200 or 400 will push me a lot more,” Whittaker said.

KHS goes to Ottawa on Saturday, April 16, and Rochelle on Tuesday, April 19

Talent, effort goes the distance for Knights

Photo: Trevor Holm remains a key component of the Kaneland High School boys track success the last several years, especially in the 1600m run. Photo by Linda Bell

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It was a high ceiling for Kaneland High School boys track in 2010, and by the end of the season in Charleston, Ill., it turned into a celebration.

A second-place finish in the Class 2A State meet and a State championship in two events were reason to party, and Kaneland hopes to extend it.

But, it’ll have to come with a lot of preparation, which fifth-year coach Eric Baron has already started on.

“It started at track camp in June, and we took a look at what we have coming back,” Baron said. “We looked at areas we need to strengthen. It’s a reloading program. We lost a lot of good seniors. I think the group of freshmen that’s coming in might be better than the group that just left, talent-wise.”

In terms of sprints, Tommy Whittaker’s name will come up early and often.

“Tommy is not only going to win a lot of races, he is just a tremendous leader,” Baron said. “It’s a senior class of seven. Their leadership is outstanding.”

Whittaker, Taylor Andrews, Matt Spitzzeri and Trevor Holm will be counted on to give that frosh-soph class some leadership.

“It’s gone on since before I was coach. You listen to the upperclassmen because they’ve been through the wringer,” Baron said.

Sprints and hurdlers will see an Andrews presence, who competed side-by-side with new Golden Gopher Logan Marcusson.

The entire 4×100 and 4×200 meter relays return to give KHS an added boost, fresh off a Charleston trip last year.

Brandon Cottier, Andrew Essex, Curtis Secrest and Quinn Buschbacher also look to contribute. Sophomore Dylan Pennington is also expected to make the most of his time on the track.

Holm takes care of the distance question.

“Trevor could be an All-Stater in pretty much any event we decide to go with,” Baron said.

Baron touted freshmen Luis Acosta and Kyle Carter as pleasant surprises in the early goings, especially in relays.

In the field, Frankie Furco has high jumped over six feet in indoor competition.

A young jumper looking to help the Knights is Marshall Farthing, also excelling in indoor action.

Spitzzeri in triple jump looks to make the State meet after missing by 1.5 inches last year.

“Matt Cowans is coming in in great shape off of basketball and is jumping real well,” Baron said.

Kaneland remains quite young in the throws and looks to several underclassmen to step in to spots previously held by personnel like Phil Christensen.

“There’s the potential for several Phil Christensens in our throwing crew right now, like Alex Snyder and Nate Dyer and Tom King,” Baron said.

On Saturday, April 9, the Knights begin the outdoor season at East Moline United. The Peterson Prep is hosted at KHS on Saturday, April 23.

Knight boys raise roof for 4th at Byron

BYRON, Ill.—Saturday brought some indoor track competition to Byron, Ill., and also brought some fine numbers and totals for Kaneland boys track.

Looking to get the 2010-11 season on the right foot indoors, Kaneland finished tied for fourth out of 12 teams.

Their 43-point total tied with Rockford Jefferson. Rockton’s Hononegah had 97 points, followed by Burlington Central’s 69.5 total and Belvidere North with 47 points. The Knights were the lone representative from the Northern Illinois Big XII conference.

Tommy Whittaker of the Knights took second in the 400 meter dash with an effort of 53.97 seconds, behind Hononegah’s Kassidy Freeman by .9 seconds.

Taylor Andrews ran 7.9 seconds for second place in the 55m hurdles finals event, and was also part of the first place 4x400m relay team with Whittaker, Brandon Cottier and Chad Swieca (3:37.90).

Frankie Furco acclimated himself well in the finals of the high jump, finishing third in the group with a six-foot effort.

Finally, Matt Spitzzeri took second in the triple jump group by completing his turn at 41-4.5.

The boys’ next challenge is the Northern Illinois Big XII indoor meet in Sterling on Saturday, March 19.

Negative charge: ACC ousts Kaneland boys

Photo: Kaneland’s Zach Ringhouse drives toward the basket for two of his nine points in the 63-53 season-ending loss to Aurora Central Catholic on March 2. Ringhouse is among six seniors departing due to graduation. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
SYCAMORE—Turns out, the 26th contest of the year for Knights boys hoops for 2010-11 was its last.

A season that had area faithful wondering how second-year coach Brian Johnson’s roster could adjust with losses like Dave Dudzinski and Ryley Bailey, ended with a 17-9 record after a 63-53 loss to third-seeded Aurora Central Catholic on March 2.

The Sycamore Regional loss meant the end of a wild season for the second-seeded Knights.

Aurora Central Catholic (15-13) would go on to defeat the top-seeded Rochelle Hubs in the Sycamore Regional final on Friday, 56-51, and was scheduled to face Marian Central Catholic on Wednesday in the Woodstock North Sectional.

“They’re a good team,” Johnson said. “They played some really strong programs, and got that nice lead in the second quarter.”

For Kaneland, Chaon Denlinger had a team-high 17 points, followed by 12 from Daniel Helm. Ryan Harreld had a game-high 22 points which included four three-pointers.

Using proficiency down low and with an outside touch, ACC went out to a 20-12 lead in the first quarter. Trever Heinle’s bucket closed within 20-14 with 53.0 second left. After a basket put the Chargers up 22-14, Heinle’s two foul shots with 25.2 left made it 22-16 before a trifecta at the buzzer gave ACC a 25-16 lead after the first eight minutes.

Two long-range threes by the Chargers gave ACC a chance to see its lead bloom to 36-25 with 3:05 to go, but a Denlinger trifecta with 1:17 to go cut the lead to eight. The Knights trailed 36-28 going into halftime.

A Tyler Callaghan bucket 32 seconds into the second half brought KHS to its closest margin of the quarter at 36-30. A late flurry by the Chargers, which included three baskets and a foul shot, extended the lead to 50-38 by the end of the third frame.

The fourth quarter started in an encouraging fashion for Kaneland as Denlinger’s offensive putback and a three-point play by Zach Ringhouse brought the deficit to 50-43 with 5:39 to go. However, ACC had its own three-point play and an additional free throw got the lead back up to 11. Kaneland would close it to 54-46 with 3:28 to go but could get no closer.

With the season-ending loss, the Knights say goodbye to Ringhouse, Andrew O’Herron, Callaghan, Matt Spitzzeri, Matt Cowans and Denlinger.

“Yeah, it was the first game of the regional and we lost, but the kids in there did some amazing things. People were telling me ‘you’re going to win eight games, it’s a rebuilding year, you’re going to have some hard times.’ They go out and win 17 games and go out as conference champions,” Johnson said.

Nine-win Knights take BC, taken by 2 others


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaneland splits first 2 contests in Plano

by Mike Slodki
PLANO—All right, so the gift you receive this year won’t be as large as last year’s.

If you’re Kaneland boys basketball, there is still ample time to end the holiday festivities on a strong note.

On Tuesday night at the 48th annual Plano Christmas Classic off of Route 34, third-seeded Kaneland fell to sixth-seeded Princeton by a final of 52-51 in second-round action, which solidified that KHS won’t be repeating as Classic champions.

The Knights opened up tourney play with a convincing 66-33 win over Little Ten stalwart Hinckley-Big Rock—the second time Kaneland has vanquished H-BR this season.

KHS now sits at 7-3 after 10 contests, with a 3-0 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference play.

The Knights were set to suit up against Hall of Spring Valley, Ill., in a third-round matchup on Wednesday evening.

Against the Tigers, the Knights were led by Daniel Helm’s 22 points and Chaon Denlinger’s 16. Kaneland was perfect from the foul line, but only had four attempts.

An 18-7 lead over Princeton slipped to a 26-20 margin at the break. Kaneland still maintained a slim 39-35 lead before some fourth-quarter heroics went the Tigers’ way.

Princeton was set to face No. 2 Newark on Wednesday in its quest for its first Plano title since 1990.

In Monday’s win over the Royals, Kaneland had 10 members in the scoring column, paced by Denlinger’s 15 and Matt Spitzzeri’s 10. Denlinger also supplied three three-pointers.

“It’s nice to see other guys do well, too,” Denlinger said. “We kept putting it on so they couldn’t close the gap very much, it’s nice to see.”

A three by Denlinger, coupled with a basket by Tyler Callaghan, and two more baskets by Denlinger propelled Kaneland out to an early 11-0 lead with 1:57 to go in the first quarter. Helm’s basket with 52.1 to go gave KHS a 13-3 lead after one.

Holding onto a 12-point lead in the second quarter, the Knights saw a basket from Spitzzeri, an in-the-paint bucket from Drew David and two foul shots from Spittzeri to go into halftime up 27-9.

The third quarter was a torrid one for KHS, as they made nine straight shots in a period of 5:17, building up their lead to 49-18 by the end of the third.

A Kory Harner bucket with 5:40 to go gave KHS its biggest lead at 58-24.

“We just talked about taking care of the ball,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We did a nice job of getting down the floor. We’ve been toying with a full-court press and see if that works out. We want to become stronger as a team this tournament.”

Kaneland will face either Forreston or Sandwich on Thursday, Dec. 30, at 5:30 p.m for fifth place, or at 2:30 p.m. for seventh place.

Knights use last-second heroics for win

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

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

It’s the last moment that counted the most.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisler paced DeKalb with 17 points.

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

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

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

48th Annual
Plano Christmas Classic

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

KHS ends strong at Strombom; begins 2-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All-WSC, team awards handed out at KHS

KANELAND—Kaneland High School dished out end of the year and spring speason sports awards last week.

In Knights boys track and field, Logan Markuson was named the Track MVP, while Nick Sinon, state champ in high jump, was named Field MVP. Edgar Valle, also a state champ as part of the 4×400 relay , was named recipient of the Drendel Award. Markuson, Derek Bus, Joe Levita, Brett Ketza, Justin Choate and Sinon were recognized as captains. Andrew Essex was named winner of the Ron Probst Award. Sinon, Markuson, Taylor Andrews, Valle, Bus, Matt Reusche, Matt Spitzzeri, Sean Paulick, Tommy Whittaker, Dominic Furco, Trevor Holm and Levita were recognized as the final Kaneland representatives for the all-Western Sun Conference team.

Brandon Cottier, Essex, Curtis Secrest, Whittaker, Spitzzeri, Valle, Bus, Taylor Andrews, Markuson, Levita, Holm and Sinon were all lauded for their trip to the Class 2A State Finals in Charleston, Ill.

For girls track, Lisa Roberson and Andie Strang, both State-goers, were named co-Track MVP’s, while Brooke Patterson, fresh off a trip to Charleston, was named field MVP.

Mel Mazuc and Nicole Ketza were part of a group of three named most improved field athletes, along with Briana Stark in long jump. Hurdler Hillary Luse took the most improved track athlete award.

Roberson and Sydney Bilotta were recognized as captains, while Patterson, Ashley Castellanos and Gabby Aguirre were honored for their All-Western Sun Conference performances.

Strang (800 meter run, 4x800m relay), Roberson and Kris Bowen (4x800m), Sara Wallace (pole vault), Jessica Stouffer (4x800m), Patterson (pole vault, triple jump) and Castellanos (long jump) were lauded for their State trip.

For the 20-win softball team, first-year coach Brian Willis gave most outstanding defensive player to Jordan Hester and most outstanding offensive player to Andrea Dimmig-Potts. Samantha Hansen took home the most improved player award, Kristen Stralka and Brittany Davis got in on the Lady Knight Award, while 13-win pitcher Delani Vest was given the most outstanding player award.

In the freshman softball ranks, Elizabeth Eckert and Sarah Grams took the co-MVP honors, while Danielle McCormack won the Kaneland Knight award.

For baseball, Dave Dudzinski and Bobby Thorson were named recipients of the Mr. Kaneland Baseball award.

Jake Tickle, he of the 19-game hit streak during the season, was named offensive MVP, and Steve Colombe was crowned defensive MVP.

The 41 Award, in honor or Jeff Malewig, was given to Tickle and Jake Fiedler.

Thorson, Fiedler, Colombe and Tickle were all recognized for their All-Western Sun Conference honors.

For the 15-win girls soccer team’s history- making season, Megan Gil, Haley Johnson, Shelby Koester, Colleen Gebauer and Emily Heimerdinger were lauded for their captain-ship.

Amy Fabrizius was given the most improved player honor, and freshman goalkeeper Jordan Ginther was named Rookie of the Year.

Sophie Blank, Andie Bruce and Natalie Swieca won the coach’s award. Gebauer and Katie Taylor were co-winners of the Lady Knights Award, while Heimerdinger and Gil took the MVP honors.

For the final awards of the night, the female Birkette award was given to Roberson. Markuson and Bus took home the male Birkette award.

Markuson was honored with the Male Athlete of the Year award, while Roberson was given the Female Athlete of the Year award.

Levita, for his time in cross country, wrestling and track, was honored for his three-sport commitment.

Photo: Lisa Roberson, shown here in relay action in Charleston, Ill., two weeks ago, was awarded Female Athlete of the Year and Female Birkette Award winner at last week’s 2010 Senior Athletic Banquet Awards. File Photo

Knights boys track makes mark on Charleston

by Mike Slodki
CHARLESTON—Followers of KHS track maybe have seen a boys track roster for the ages in 2010.

Actually, judging by the second-place team finish at Friday and Saturday’s Class 2A Boys Track State Finals at Eastern Illinois University, there’s no “may” about it.

The Knights, with 53 points, finished second in the state only to Hillcrest High School with 61. It marked the Knights’ highest team finish since 1999. Cahokia tied for second with 53, Oak Forest was fourth with 39 and Crete-Monee was fifth with 35 points.

An impressive showing for Kaneland featured six events with All-State honors and two State champions.

Coach Eric Baron holds the second-place State trophy for 2010. The team was escorted back into town by two fire trucks and a police car. Courtesy Photo
The roster, with the largest contingent at State for the Knights since 1998, featured the 4×400 meter relay team of Tommy Whittaker, Derek Bus, Edgar Valle and Logan Markuson setting a meet record with a time of 3:20.29, and Nick Sinon setting a meet record in the high jump at six feet, nine inches.

At the conclusion of the season, the Knights now have five State champs on the roster, with Markuson winning the 300m low hurdles a year ago.

Sinon and the relay crew now mark the 15th and 16th first-place nods at the State finals in Knights history.

Sinon beat out Burlington Central’s Cameron Ostrowski by two inches for State glory and was helped by a 6-03 jump in the preliminaries.

The relay squad broke the all-time record by 1.31 seconds, set in 1980.

Markuson knew something big could happen based on the initial performance on Friday.

“After prelims, I knew we were sitting pretty, and we were going to see how it all played out,” Markuson said. “It’s cool to have won that event; there was definitely a lot of emotion.”

Valle continued the good times in Charleston with a second-place finish in the 800m run with a time of 1:58.03 in the finals. The senior was followed closely by teammate Derek Bus, who finished fifth at 1:58.29.

To add to the All-State party, Taylor Andrews cinched up fifth overall in the 110 meter low hurdles with a time of 14.81 in the finals.

Markuson also earned All-State honors in the 300 meter low hurdles with a time of 38.43 seconds, good for fourth.

Markuson also highlighted a productive day for other finals, finishing seventh in the pole vault at 13-03, and seventh in the 110m hurdles at 15.09.

A standout at pole vault and hurdles throughout his Knights tenure, Markuson was thoughtful about his performance in the 2010 season.

“It’s kind of weird when you get down to State and see all this competition. It’s a cool experience but I don’t really consider myself to be in the elite group in my events, Markuson said.

The 4x800m relay team of Dominic Furco, Sean Paulick, Joe Levita and Trevor Holm made it to the finals and finished seventh at 8:01.44.

Also making the trip down to State was Matt Spitzzeri, who jumped a 43-01.5 in the triple jump prelims. Andrews raced a 42.08 in the 300m intermediate hurdles.

Whittaker raced 11.32 in the 100m dash prelims. The Knights also saw additional prelim action for the 4×100 and 4×200. Andrews, Whittaker, Andrew Essex and Brandon Cottier ran a 43.80 in the 100, while Whittaker, Cottier, Essex and Curtis Secrest raced the 200 in 1:32.00.

With the conclusion of the season, the Knights say goodbye to 19 seniors including seven State-goers.

Top photo: Knight boys track cornerstone Edgar Valle closed out his high school career with a second place in the 800m run, and a first in the 4x400m relay on Saturday at Class 2A State in Charleston. Photo by Ben Draper

Boys track takes Sterling Sectional; 11 events to State

by Mike Slodki
STERLING—Kaneland boys track isn’t just getting hot at the right time, it’s smokin’.

With 126 total points and 11 State qualifying events coming out of Friday’s Class 2A Sterling Sectional, Kaneland beat its closest competitor, DeKalb, by 57 points.

Burlington Central finished third with 58 points, followed by Yorkville at 55 and Rochelle at 52.

The Knights’ 11 events was the most since 1998, in which Kaneland qualified in 12 events.

Coach Eric Baron’s crew now gears up for a trip to the Class 2A State finals in Charleston, Ill. at Eastern Illinois University.

Kaneland’s entry in the 4x800m relay (Dominic Furco, Sean Paulick, Joe Levita, Trevor Holm) earned sectional champ honors with a time of 8 minutes, 6.99 seconds, beating BC by 1.73 seconds.

In other relay action, the 4x100m relay squad (Andrew Essex, Brandon Cottier, Taylor Andrews, Tommy Whittaker) finished second with a time of 43.57 seconds, just .19 behind DeKalb.

In 110 meter high hurdles action, the tandem of Taylor Andrews and Logan Markuson pushed each other to higher levels all season, and it was no different in Sterling as the two Knights finished in the top two spots. Andrews finished first at 14.54 seconds, while Markuson took second at 14.74.

With a second-place nod in the 100 meter dash, Whittaker’s 11.17 was good enough to send him packing to EIU.

Kaneland will send two competitors to State in the 800m run, as stalwarts Edgar Valle (1:58.27) and Derek Bus (1:59.04) took the top two spots in the event.

KHS also sends the unit that participated in the 4x200m relay (Essex, Cottier, Curtis Secrest, Whittaker) to State, as it finished third with a qualifying time of 1:31.82.

“We have underclassmen in both the 100 and 200 (relay); that’s impressive,” Baron said. “Really, the guy who got the ball rolling for us was Whittaker. He had a huge night in the 100 and won his heat in the prelims, and once he did that it kind of carried over to the rest of the team.”

Markuson came back to take the sectional champ crown in the 300m low hurdles, running in 39.62, and will be joined by teammate Andrews (second place, 40.68 seconds).

The Knight foursome that ran the 4x400m relay (Whittaker, Bus, Valle, Markuson) finished first with a time of 3:23.01, beating out BC by 3.71.

Markuson qualified for a third event with a second-place pole vault effort of 13 feet, 3 inches, continuing Kaneland’s long standing tradition of sending pole vaulters to the big meet annually since 1983.

“We’ve had great coaching,” Baron said. “Kaneland is about pole vaulting, and Andy Drendel came in this year. He and Logan felt a great deal of pressure. Logan stepped up when it mattered in his last attempt.”

Nick Sinon returns to Charleston, based on his second-place high jump at 6-07.

Matt Spitzzeri makes it to State for the first time by capturing fourth in the triple jump at 43-07.

The State finals are Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29.

Ottawa Invite can’t humble Kaneland boys track

KANELAND—What better way to let a future conference rival know who’s king of the track than to show them a year early.

Thanks to strong individual performances, the Kaneland High School boys track team was tops overall at the Ottawa Invite on Saturday afternoon, racking up 193 team points.

Moline was close by with 190 points, and Peoria Richwoods rounded out the top three with 134 points.

On Tuesday, the Knights took care of host Glenbard South by a 74-20 clip.

The exceptional finishes in Ottawa began with senior Jemmar Parrenas, who vaulted to 11 feet, six inches in pole vault grouping B for second place. Teammate Logan Markuson took the honors in pole vault A at 14 feet.

In the high jump event, sophomore Frankie Furco entered the mix with a second-place showing in the B group at 5-08, while Nick Sinon took first in the A group at 6-02.

For the long jump C category, Matt Spitzzeri finished second at 18-10.5.

In triple jump B, freshman Marshall Farthing finished second at 38-08.5.

In the 4x800m relay A race, the senior foursome of Derek Bus, Dominic Furco, Joe Levita and Edgar Valle beat out the competition at 8:15.53, beating Lincoln-Way East’s unit by 6.41 seconds.

In the 110m hurdles C group, freshman Chad Swieca finished second at 18.12, while Taylor Andrews took second with a time of 15.87 seconds in 110m hurdles B.

Dominic Furco finished second in the 800m run C with a time of 2:08.71. Teammate Clayton Brundige, with a run of 2:07.13, finished second in the 800m run C group.

Swieca won the 300m hurdles C race at 45.19 seconds, while Andrews finished second in 300m hurdles B.

Markuson won the 300m hurdles A race at 40.50. Matt Reusche was tops in the 1600m run C with a time of 4:47.86.

Kaneland’s foursome of Tommy Whittaker, Bus, Andrews and Markuson took the top spot in the 4x400m relay A with a time of 3:25.90.

Against the Raiders, Sinon won the long jump at 20-7.75, and the high jump at 6-4. Markuson took the pole vault at 13-6.

Kaneland’s 4×800 relay won at 9:21.1, and the 4×400 finished first at 3:29.3.

Dominic Furco took the 3200m run at 10:43.4.

Andrews finished first in the 110 hurdles at 15.4 seconds, and also first in the 300m hurdles at 40.7.

Trevor Holm won the 1600m run at 4:39.3, while Sean Paulick won the 800m run at 2:11.3.

The Knights host the annual Peterson Prep on Saturday, April 24 at 10 a.m.

Photo: Curtis Secrest and Andrew Essex participate in a sprint relay down at the Ottawa Invite on Saturday. Courtesy Photo

Boys track looks to top themselves

Photo: Preparation continues for members of the Kaneland boys track squad that finished 13th in Class 2A a year ago. Photo by Mike Slodki
by Mike Slodki
Maple Park—Can the Kaneland High School boys track roster top last year’s exceptional finish?

Seven separate events saw Kaneland representation at the Class 2A State meet in Charleston, and the team finished 13th overall.

Senior Logan Markuson was crowned State champ in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles.

Graduate Josh Bloome and Markuson both medalled in the pole vault, and senior Nick Sinon took third in the high jump.

It sounds daunting on paper, but with a roster eclipsing the 70-person mark and with a glut of talent familiar with success, it’s possible for huge things to happen for KHS boys track.

“I would say we’re pretty excited,” KHS coach Eric Baron said. “We started with a lot of ambition and excitement about what we think we can accomplish. Winning the indoor invite this week was a first step.”

Markuson, now quickly climbing up the record books for Knights track, is appreciated by Baron for what he brings.

“He’s just a great person,” Baron said. “ It’s about more than just athletic ability. He hasn’t missed one day of school ever. Every meet, he’ll go out and do what you ask him to do.”

Markuson will look to make a mark in the hurdles, pole vault and 4×400 relay once again.

Sinon returns to the ranks after some offseason experience and has already cleared 6-8 in the indoor long jump.

“He’s looking at big things this year and is a real student of the sport,” Baron said. “We’ll be strong in all of our jumps, and this is going to be a big year for him.”

Helping the KHS cause was a Western Sun Conference indoor championship last week.

Also back on the sprint side is Taylor Andrews, who qualified in the 110m high hurdles and benefited from racing alongside Markuson.

Much will have to be done to absolve the loss of Lucas Ross, Colin Zagel and Brendan McCarthy.

“We’re looking for Tommy Whittaker to have a nice year and Serpa ran well for us, and then there’s some young guys like Curtis Secrest and Andrew Essex, who are working super hard,” Baron said.

On the relay side, Whittaker, Edgar Valle and Markuson return from the 4x400m.

Valle, who Baron marked as an unsung contributor to track during his tenure, also qualified for the 4x800m relay, along with Derek Bus, Sean Paulick and graduated Hayden Johnson.

“Bus qualified for State last year and has come out this year so far and made a statement,” Baron said.

“(Edgar) doesn’t get a lot of limelight, but he’s been a relay guy for us every meet,” Baron said.

The freshmen class comes in with personnel like Brandon Cottier, Alex Gil and Chad Swieca, who are primed for action.

“Cottier looks like a special athlete, and we’re figuring out what his best event is,” Baron said.

On the field side of things, it’s open season.

“Alex Mollohan and Brett Ketza are throwing for us and they look ready to step up,” Baron said.

Baron added Ben Kovalick to the throwing list.

For vault, Markuson and Jemmar Parrenas take the reins. Parrenas has gone over 12 feet in indoor competition.

For now, Baron mentions only a couple of nagging injury issues to Blake Serpa and Whittaker.

“A big thing right now is taking it easy on people when we can,” Baron said.

Seniors looking to contribute are Justin Choate, Brock Dyer, Dominic Furco, Kevin Hodge, Carlos Hufshlag, Joe Levita, Lukas Liebich, Justin Phillips, Matt Swift and Kyle Wagner.

Juniors looking to get in the mix are Cody McGinnis and Matt Spitzzeri.

Baron cited Matt Reusche on the senior side and juniors Matt Cowans and Trevor Holm as athletes that are capable of big things.

Sophomores are Chase Borneman, Clayton Brundige, Tom Chidester, Joe Cozzi, Mitch Dienst, Evan Dukes, Andrew Essex, Frankie Furco, Jake Ginther, Thomas King, Jimmy Lagness, Mickey Marin, John Michek, Thanasi Pesmajoglou, Kelvin Peterson, Nate Rehkopf, Brandon Stahl, Devin Swearingen and Nicholas Wieglos.

Freshmen are Trevor Anderson, Tanner Andrews, David Barnhart, Ryan Euting, Marshall Farthing, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Billy Hart, Brandon Huber, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos, Jay Markuson, John Meisenger, Jimmy Merletti, Nick Messina, Liam Mulloy, Ben Nelson, Ryan Paulson, Dylan Pennington, Nick Sharp, Ben Sommers, Gus Stott, Chad Swieca, Zach Theis, Chris Wido and George WIlson.

The outdoor season for Kaneland boys track begins on Saturday, April 10, at East Moline United with conference action against visiting Batavia and Rochelle on Tuesday, April 13.

The Kane County Meet is on Friday, May 7, at West Aurora, with the final Western Sun Conference meet on Friday, May 14, at Geneva.

United They Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys feel better after taking two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Johnson era begins for boys basketball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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