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.
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.
â€œDave still got his (20) points and nothing really changed on the floor,â€ KHS coach Brian Johnson said. â€œHeâ€™ll be playing on the big stage in the future.â€
â€œWe got used to it pretty good,â€ Dudzinski said. â€œThe flow of the game didnâ€™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.
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 Knightsâ€™ 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 Genevaâ€™s aggressive offense led to five trips to the charity stripe that added the last six points.
â€œWe hit highs and lows in the second half,â€ Johnson said. â€œGeneva forced us to play a little quicker.â€
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 Regionalâ€™s semifinal at 7:30 p.m.