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.