The St. Edward boys basketball program's past met its present in Elgin Friday.
Kaneland coach Brian Johnson -- a 1997 St. Edward graduate who played on the last two Green Wave squads to win sectional titles -- returned to his alma mater for a nonconference meeting twice postponed for weather-related reasons.
Supported in the stands by approximately 10 former teammates as well as former St. Edward coach Kevin Dix, now an assistant coach at Lewis University, Johnson's Knights pulled away from the Green Wave late in the third quarter of a 65-55 victory.
Kaneland (10-6) might have put the game out of reach earlier had it made more free throws. The Knights connected on 16 of 33 attempts from the stripe (48 percent). Though he wasn't pleased by that number, Johnson could at least empathize.
"They must have gotten a little feel for how I shot free throws when I was in high school. I think I was 45 percent," Johnson said with a laugh. "Coach Dix is here and he was used to seeing me miss all those. I guess he knows who's teaching them."
Otherwise, Kaneland was sharp considering a 13-day gap between games. The Knights shot 24 of 49 from the field (49 percent) and won the rebounding battle 34-25, led by 12 boards from 6-foot-3 sophomore Ryan David. Senior John Pruett led all scorers with 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting and senior Tyler Carlson had 17 points and 9 rebounds.
"They got me the ball in great position to make shots, and John created for himself and got past guys," Carlson said.
Did the Knights feel any pressure to win for their coach in his personal homecoming?
"A little bit," Carlson said, "but he made sure when we came here it wasn't for him, that it was about the team and us getting back on track after 13 days off. It's an awesome gym to play in. St. Ed's had a lot of people out and so did we."
St. Edward (16-5) used a 6-point trip in the third quarter to pull within a basket. Guard Davontae Elam scored 2 of his 17 points on a putback, John Butzow sank a pair of technical free throws and Nick Duffy (team-high 18 points) scored on an inside basket that drew the Wave within 34-32 with 12 minutes left in the game.
However, St. Edward's momentum was routinely derailed by missed open shots. The Wave went cold and Kaneland answered with an 11-2 run to restore its double-digit lead, a surge fueled by 9 points from Pruett.
"We have to make our shots and we have to be play more physical," St. Edward coach P.J. White said. "Kaneland beat us on the offensive glass and the defensive glass the whole game. We'd make runs at them, but we could never stop them completely. We didn't really have any answers for the Carlson kid or the Pruett kid. It was a game of runs and they just had more of them than we did."
The Green Wave shot 23 of 59 from the field (39 percent), 1 of 16 from 3-point range.
"We just have to shoot the ball better," White added. "I can't really fault anything that we did because we had good, open shots. They just have to go down."
Danny Favela had 9 points and 8 rebounds for St. Edward, which lost for the fourth time in five outings.
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