Maybe Kaneland and Yorkville wanted to play football.
At least it seemed that way in a frantic, physical Northern Illinois Big 12 East division basketball clash in which Yorkville broke open a close game late in the third quarter Friday night to spark a 56-39 pasting of host Kaneland.
The wild game featured numerous loose-ball battles, turnovers and collisions, but Yorkville cashed in on its biggest advantage when the game came to a halt for free throws. The Foxes sank 19 of 21 from the charity stripe to Kaneland's 7 of 13.
"They say if a team is going to make more free throws than you are going to attempt, they are probably going to win the game," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said after watching Yorkville can 12 of those free throws in the final quarter in sealing the victory.
Yorkville guard Kyle Dhuse was a thorn in Kaneland's side all night, tallying a game-high 19 points but swinging the game's momentum in his team's favor with two key plays late in the third quarter.
Dhuse stole a pass near midcourt and drove inside for a basket that lifted Yorkville to a lead it would never relinquish at 33-32. Seconds later, he made the play of the night by grabbing a rebound under the Kaneland basket and then driving the length of the court to power inside for a layup and a 35-32 lead.
The sequence sparked a Yorkville charge that carried over into the final quarter and resulted in a 21-7 run to close out the game.
"I saw an opening and kept going, and they didn't stop me, so I just took it," Dhuse said of his key full-court drive. "Coach said right from the beginning that this was going to be a physical game."
The game was evenly matched in all aspects through most of the first three quarters, but Kaneland fell into a troubling trend. The Knights' 22 turnovers were only two more than Yorkville, but they coughed up the ball four times each at the end of the second and third quarters.
Yorkville coach Jerry Farber said that stat line occurred according to plan.
"Our bench is deep, and that's one of our strengths," Farber said. "And when we press people it usually is toward the end of a quarter when the opponent is tired out; that's one of the plusses we had."
Those late turnovers caused two key momentum swings as Yorkville (9-5, 3-1) scored the final 7 points of the second quarter to erase a 22-19 Kaneland lead to go into the lockerrom at halftime with a 26-22 edge. And the blitz at the end of the third quarter turned a 32-29 Kaneland lead into a 42-34 Yorkville advantage entering the final frame.
"We knew it was going to be a tough place to get a win, and I wasn't sure how the kids would play because it has been a week since we played last," Farber said. "But I thought the kids picked up where they left off in playing well at the Plano Tournament."
Kaneland (8-5, 3-1) was led by Daniel Helm and Kory Harner, with 9 points each, while Josh Williams and Derek Piszczeck each chipped in 8 points for the Foxes.
"Yorkville did everything we thought they would do, and they are really tough," Johnson said. "Dhuse is the wild card on that team, he really hurt us tonight.
"They really go to the rim well and their big men are very active and very long," Johnson said of Yorkville in explaining why it was so difficult for his team to corral rebounds cleanly. "That's hard to game-plan for, and they tip a lot of loose balls and their guys go after them and get to them."