Kaneland’s inaugural Day and Knight of Basketball was a rousing success, according to Knights coach Brian Johnson.
However, the Knights (13-8) were unable to cap the 6-game day that included 3 varsity contests with a victory Saturday night in Maple Park.
Capitalizing on its height advantage and athleticism, Hillcrest (17-6) pulled away down the stretch for an 81-60 triumph over the host school.
“I thought we got outmuscled on the glass,” Johnson said of his team’s 40-26 rebounding disadvantage. “When you’re playing a team that is a lot more athletic than you are and taller than you are, you’ve got to do the little things right. We really didn’t do those little things right tonight. We didn’t box out at all and they just dominated us on the glass.”
Hillcrest, which captured the Class 3A state championship in 2010, received big-time performances from its biggest players.
Junior 6-5 guard-forward DeAngelo Isby scored a game-high 25 points and hauled down 11 rebounds while 6-8 junior forward-center Taylor Adway also added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“The 6-8 kid (Adway) — he’s a Division 1 player,” said Johnson. “(Kaneland’s) Ty Carlson is 6-3. It’s hard to guard kids like that. Unfortunately, he just dominated us in the post.”
Kaneland began the game strong, grabbing a 10-7 lead midway through the opening quarter on a baseline jumper by Carlson (13 points) after senior guard-forward John Pruett scored 4 of the Knights’ first 6 points.
“It was good to see John start the game with a nice little step-back jumper,” said Johnson. “I think that was huge for John to show him that he could play with the big boys.”
Allen Jones ignited a 10-0 run with an offensive rebound putback and a 3-pointer from the corner as the Hawks took a 17-12 first-quarter lead.
“We were trying to figure out what we could do successfully on defense,” said Johnson.
Hillcrest closed out the second quarter with a 9-3 flurry that upped its halftime lead to 39-30.
“At one point, I think it was a 30-28 game and we turned it over a couple times in a row and they capitalized,” said Johnson. “We did some nice things and we missed some shots but miss it and they get it and score. That makes it difficult.”
Pruett paced the Knights with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists, while sophomore Dylan Vaca came off the bench to add 12 points.
Despite the setback, Johnson was pleased with the way the event went on without a hitch.
“It was a great day,” said the coach. “That North Chicago-Larkin game was awesome. St. Charles North was excellent and it was good to see Peoria Richwoods. (Hillcrest coach) Don Houston is a class act.
“It was just a pleasure to put the Kaneland name with those programs.”