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Kaneland senior guard John Pruett picked on opportune time to start connecting on his free throws.
Pruett finished 14 of 17 from the free-throw line, including a perfect 7-of-7 effort in the fourth quarter, while teammate Drew David made a key steal down the stretch, all leading to a 71-65 nonconference win at West Chicago on Tuesday night.
When asked if he had been that reliable from the free-throw line, Pruett stayed humble.
"I've been shooting really bad (from the free-throw line) this year; something like 60 percent," he said. "I've been trying to put in the work whenever I can. In my mind I have to tell myself that I can make it."
Mitchell Henke scored West Chicago's (13-10) first 9 points, including a rebound basket in the paint that tied the game at 9-9.
The Wildcats' biggest lead of the first half came when John Konchar scored seven straight points, culminating in a putback off his own miss to give his team a 22-17 lead.
Kaneland, however, managed to take the lead on three occasions toward the end of the second quarter, including a long 2-pointer by David that put his team up 29-27.
A baseline 3-pointer by Michael Bibbs with 32 seconds left gave West Chicago a 30-29 lead heading into halftime.
The Wildcats built their lead up to 43-39 on a driving jumper by Bibbs, but Kaneland (12-7) followed with a 13-2 run that stretched from the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Pruett scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that closed his team's 13-2 run, giving the Knights a 52-45 lead.
West Chicago managed to cut the lead to 57-56 on a basket by Konchar, but Pruett scored 9 of his team's next 11 points including a pair of free throws with 1:14 left that gave the Knights a 68-61 lead.
Alex Mitchell knocked down his second straight 3-pointer and Konchar split a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 68-65, but Kaneland made the aforementioned key defensive stop with 25 seconds left when David stole a pass intended for Konchar.
"That steal was huge," Pruett said. "Drew (David) is always coming through whenever we need him, whether it's free throws, steals or 3-pointers."
David was subsequently fouled while driving to the basket off his steal and hit both free throws with 19 seconds left to help secure the win.
"We got outhustled tonight," West Chicago coach Bill Recchia said. "We got beat to a lot of loose balls and we let ourselves get trapped. It was a frustrating game."