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What goes around comes around. What came and went was Kaneland's big lead.
Like a mirror held between halves, Kaneland made it look easy then saw Princeton claw back in and finish strong to beat the Knights 52-51 in the quarterfinals of the 48th Plano Christmas Boys Basketball Classic.
Quickly answering a 3 by Kaneland's Zach Ringhouse with 12.9 seconds left in Tuesday's game, Princeton's Michael Murray cruised downcourt and laid the ball in with 2.9 seconds to play for the winner. The Knights' Chaon Denlinger bounced a 25-foot shot off the rim at the horn.
Princeton coach Jesse Brandt benched Murray much of the first quarter for arriving late to Tuesday's practice. The 6-foot-1 senior finished with 15 points, 11 of them in the fourth quarter.
"I think the other team expected us to call a timeout, but we got out and ran and I was luckily open," Murray said. "I just took it around (a defender) and put it up hoping it went in and it did."
Kaneland coach Brian Johnson couldn't yell for time as loudly as he would have liked. He earned a technical after a 10-0 run -- 8 points by Murray -- awarded Princeton its first lead of the game, 47-46, with 1:58 remaining.
"I would have liked to have called a timeout, slowed them down and set up something defensively, but we weren't able to," Johnson said. "And 12 (Murray) took it the full length of the floor and nobody stops him, and that's kind of what the theme was tonight -- they took it the full length of the floor and we didn't stop them."
That was exactly how defending Plano champion and third-seed Kaneland (7-3) took a 12-0 lead before No. 6 Princeton (8-4) made it 18-7 entering the second quarter.
The Knights grabbed 11 first-quarter rebounds, guard Trever Heinle ripping down 4, and found someone open in transition or cutting inside against Princeton's man-to-man defense.
That someone often was 6-foot-3 freshman Dan Helm, who scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter.
"Oh, boy," Helm said afterward.
"We didn't play as hard, I don't think, and they came back with fast breaks, and we didn't play defense very well," he said.
Kaneland made 8 of 13 first-quarter baskets but didn't approach that lofty percentage again. Brandt applied a 1-3-1 zone defense and seeing it slowed the Knights, stuck with it the entire fourth quarter.
Princeton moved to Wednesday's semifinal against 13-0 Newark. Kaneland gets Spring Valley Hall, angling for a chance at fifth place on Thursday.
"We're just looking to get three wins out of here," said Denlinger, a 14-point scorer.