Marcel Neil has adapted to his new surroundings quite quickly.
The Kaneland senior guard, a transfer from West Aurora, nearly single-handedly equaled visiting Morris in the opening half Friday night.
Neil, slowed by foul trouble in the second half, scored a career-high 21 points to frame the Knights' 56-46 Northern Illinois Big XII East opener for both teams in Maple Park.
Trever Heinle added 18 points for the Knights, who improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the league.
"(Neil) gives them a new dimension," Morris coach Joe Blumberg said. "He has allowed them to absorb the loss of some quality players."
Neil hit three 3-pointers in succession bridging the opening two quarters; the first connection from downtown broke the lone tie of the game at 5-5.
Kaneland never trailed in capitalizing on Morris' inexperienced players, who coughed the ball up twice as many times as the Knights in the opening half.
Neil had 13 points at the intermission as Kaneland entered the break with a 21-16 lead.
"It's something I have been working on," Neil said of his perimeter prowess. "I have been putting in a lot of work on my outside game."
Neil and the rest of his teammates had to contend with Morris' twin post offensive attack.
The Knights do not have a true center on the squad this season.
"They have two big boys who are a load (inside)," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said of Morris' Danny Friend, who finished with a team-high 17 points and game-high 7 rebounds, and Jake Olson.
Neil was forced to sit significant minutes in the third quarter after picking his third foul.
But Heinle came to the rescue for the Knights.
The 6-foot-3 senior had 3 conventional field goals, all from the paint, in the first eight minutes after halftime; Kaneland took double-digit leads as the result of his play.
"(Heinle) started to take over in the third quarter," Johnson said.
But Morris (2-2, 0-1) would finally find some cohesiveness out of its guard play, and the resulting more looks on the inside enabled the team to come within 39-35 midway through the last quarter.
But it was close as Morris would come the rest of the night.
Thomas Williams' inside score was the Knights' first field goal of the fourth quarter.
Kaneland, though, would convert 13-for-16 free throw, with Neil making all 4 of his attempts, to close out the game.
Kaneland girls 43, Morris 33: In the girls' varsity preliminary, Lauren Zick and Kelly Evers picked an opportune time to tally their first points of the game.
After an offensively glacial opening to the game, including a mere point in the first quarter and no conventional first-half field goals, Kaneland rallied as Zick and Evers had a 5-and 6-point personal run as part of the Knights' fourth-quarter 11-point unanswered run that was all the difference in their 43-33 victory.
"I knew I had to start producing for the team," said Zick, a sophomore.
Evers is the Knights' three-year senior leader.
"I just couldn't get into a rhythm (offensively)," said Evers. "I felt bad for my teammates. I was letting them down."
The Kaneland girls are 5-1, 1-0; Jordan Cummings' 10 points paced Morris (1-6, 0-1).