Knight boys spreading cheer in Plano Christmas Classic
Dudzinski, Denlinger, Bailey key components in 3-0 start to tourney
by Mike Slodki
Note: The Kaneland boys basketball team won the Plano Christmas Classic, defeating Rockford Christian 47-39 Wednesday night, behind Dave Dudzinski’s 32 points. This was the fifth year the Knights have made it to the final of the Classic, and their third win.
PLANOâ€”No.1 seed? No problem.
Kaneland Knights boys basketball (8-2, 3-1 Western Sun Conference) cut a path to the Plano Christmas Classic championship contest set for Wednesday against Rockford Christian, after defeating Putnam County, Sandwich and Genoa-Kingston so far in the tourney.
Kaneland took care of business within the cozy confines of Plano High School away from the snowy outdoor landscape, beating the Panthers of Putnam County on Saturday, 62-28.
It was prolific enough a morning that the 14 points each by Dave Dudzinski and Chaon Denlinger were enough to match the entire Panther output.
Kaneland also went 7-for-10 from the foul line, while PC went 10-for-14.
The Knights found the basket early with a 23-5 first quarter production, and kept Putnam County in check in the second to go up 35-11 at halftime.
The Knights once again outscored the Panthers by a 12-6 margin in the third to lead 47-17 after three.
The Knights took it to their second round opponent, Sandwich, in the form of a 47-27 win on Monday afternoon.
Dudzinski and Denlinger supplied 15 points apiece.
The first quarter got off to a nice start for the Knights as Denlinger supplied the first seven points.
â€œWe like to run and Ryley gets the ball up the floor really good,â€ Denlinger said. â€œHe finds a seam and gets me the ball.â€
A Steve Colombe jumper and a Dudzinski putback of a Ryley Bailey blocked shot made it 12-3 with 2:05 left, and Bailey sunk a three-point basket with 31.6 seconds remaining.
That field goal gave KHS a 15-5 lead after one.
The tempo slowed considerably and Kaneland managed just two field goals from Dudzinski at 2:03 and Tyler Callaghan at 16.1 seconds for a 19-8 lead at the half.
Sandwich made six of its first eight shots in the third quarter to close within 30-21 before Callaghan made a shot with 1:39 left in the frame to go up 32-21. KHS had a cold streak which saw the team miss 12 out of 14 shots through the third and fourth quarters, but still led 32-23 at the end of the third.
The Indians put two foul shots in just eight seconds into the final quarter to close within 32-25, but two free throws and a basket by Denlinger, followed by a bucket by Bailey brought the lead to 38-26 with 3:01 to go. A reverse layup by Dudzinski put a nice flair on the afternoon and increased the lead to 45-27 with 1:35 remaining.
â€œWhen we decided to pull the ball out, extend their zone and get David the ball in the middle of the floor, he kicked it out a couple of times. Thatâ€™s when we started to feel we could play our game,â€ KHS coach Brian Johnson said.
In the semifinal matchup, Kaneland got past the Cogs 58-47 on Tuesday.
A 21-point night by Bailey led the way and Dudzinski had 11.
Kaneland gets back into the regular swing of things on Friday, Jan. 8, 2010, vs. Batavia.
Photo: Chaon Denlinger goes skyward during Mondayâ€™s 47-27 second round win over the Sandwich Indians at the 47th Plano Christmas Classic Photo by Ben Draper