KHS journey ends

By on March 11, 2010

Photo: Dave Dudzinski (file photo).

Knights hoopsters eliminated by DeKalb in 50-47 heartbreaker
by Mike Slodki
Pieces were in place for a storybook ending during Friday night’s 3A Kaneland Regional Championship.

Down 49-42 with 39.1 seconds remaining against top-seeded DeKalb, Kaneland fired off five quick point. They were down by two and had the ball with 9.4 seconds left.

However, the storybook ending’s final chapter was cut off and the 2009-10 saga ended with a 50-47 loss in Maple Park.

Kaneland is still looking for its first regional title since 1999. They allowed themselves the opportunity for championship glory with a 48-45 win over Hampshire on March 3.

Dave Dudzinski, playing his final game in a Knights uniform, finished with 23 points. Counterpart Jordan Threloff had 18 points, and Barbs guard Dylan Donnelly had 17.

Going into the fourth quarter down 39-36, Kaneland found itself in desperation mode with 3:52 to go and down 45-38 after a Donnelly trey.

A Chaon Denlinger baseline jumper closed to within 45-40, but two foul shots by DeKalb with 46.8 to go made it 47-40. After two more freebies by Threloff put the Knights in the seven-point hole, Steve Colombe nailed a three and then later got a layup after a DeKalb turnover to close within 49-47 with 16.2 left.

With DeKalb’s Pat Rourke then missing the front end of a one-and-one, Dudzinski grabbed the rebound and a timeout was called.

Colombe inbounded the ball to Ryley Bailey who passed to Dudzinski near the basket, but the official whistled the Holy Cross-signee on a traveling violation, drawing the ire of players and Kaneland fans alike.

Rourke then made one free throw with .8 seconds to go to cement the victory.

“Dudzinski got the ball and was in a position to score and unfortunately the call was made,” first-year coach Brian Johnson said.

Johnson’s plan had Dudzinski for the final shot or kicking it out to Denlinger for a game-winning three try.

Kaneland led 17-16 after the first eight minutes and made five straight shots to go up 15-6 before DeKalb closed the gap.

Toward the end of the first half, Dudzinski hit the hoop for two baskets and gave KHS a 29-28 lead going into the locker room.

Kaneland went cold in the third quarter, going only 2-for-8 from the field. Down 39-33, Bailey launched a deep three-pointer that beat the buzzer and brought the deficit to 39-36.

Johnson reflected on the character of the players to draw themselves in a position to win, rather than the muddled outcome.

“I came in as a first-year coach and challenged them to grow as a team and grow as young men; they gave me all they had,” Johnson said.

The Knights saw their season end at 17-10, up from 13-13 the previous year.

Kaneland earned its revenge from last year’s regional opening loss to the Whip-purs a year ago with 22 points from Dudzinski. Shyler Ralphs of Hampshire and teammate Justin Beiber led their side with 12 each.

The Knights made seven foul shots—all by Dudzinski who was perfect from the line on the night.

In the first frame, Hampshire rained down three three-pointers to take a 9-6 lead, but with a Bailey basket down low, the lead was slimmed to 9-8 with 4:21 to go.

After Hampshire made it 11-8, Dudzinski sank a three with 42.3 seconds left to tie the game and then dunked with 5 ticks left for Kaneland to go up 13-11 after one.

Hampshire made five out of six shot attempts and added a foul shot to go up 25-22 with 1:21 left in the second quarter.

Williams sank a three to tie the score at 25 with 1:14 to go, and Bailey found Dudzinski on a lay-in underneath with 36.9 to go to go up 27-25.

However, the Knights soon fouled Bieber, and he went to the line to make three shots with 3.4 seconds left. Hampshire went into the locker room up 28-27.

Kaneland came out in the third quarter on a tear, going up 35-28 with 4:52 remaining, thanks to baskets from Bailey, Denlinger and Dudzinski. When Hampshire cut it to three, Colombe hit a jumper to go up 37-32 with 1:06 to go.

When Kaneland matched its biggest lead in the fourth quarter at 39-32 with 7:32 to go, Hampshire got its second wind and cut the lead to 41-40 with 3:47 to go.

Dudzinski came through with a three-point play to make it 44-40 with 1:58 remaining.

After three foul shots by the Whip-purs made it 44-43, Dudzinski found his way for another basket with 1:08 to go, giving KHS a 46-43 lead.

After a Hampshire basket with 51.9 to go cut the deficit to one, Dudzinski was later fouled on an inbound pass and sank two foul shots with 9.8 to give the Knights a 48-45 lead.

The Whip-purs had one last chance, and Brock Ralps attempted a three-pointer while double-teamed that clanked off the front of the rim.

With the conclusion of the season, the Knights say goodbye to seniors Bailey, Danilo Bruno, Colombe, Sean Paulick, Williams and Dudzinski.