West Chicago had not one but two scoring runs that delivered a 67-60 nonconference victory over Kaneland.
Trailing 29-28 at halftime on Tuesday, the host Wildcats scored the first 16 points of the third quarter. Though a box-and-1 defense hampered intended target Jason Gimre, 3-pointers by Jordan Wilkins, Isaac Nelson and Sam Ricci, plus a pair of Raed Haroon free throws hurt the Knights.
"Obviously, they were going to get up on me and that opens the floor for everyone else," said Gimre, who scored a game-high 22 points on four 3-pointers and 10-of-12 free-throw shooting.
Everyone else was in a receiving mood. West Chicago (3-1) sent four players into double-figure scoring -- Ricci with 16 points and 9 rebounds, Wilkins with 13 points, Nelson with 12.
"We came out strong in the third quarter, started to make smart shot selections, controlled the boards, controlled the tempo," said West Chicago coach Bill Recchia.
"When we had issues tonight it's when we didn't take good shots, when we had one pass and a shot -- which is as good as a turnover. If we make the defense have to work -- four, five, six, seven touches -- we have a better opportunity to be successful."
Kaneland (1-5) obviously wasn't content. Despite a foul-plagued third quarter, Knights Blake Feiza, Rhett Espe, Brett David and Grant Heimerdinger regrouped to pull within 50-41 entering the fourth.
It got much tighter than that. Feiza scored all 8 points of an 8-1 run to get within 51-49 with 4:17 left in the fourth quarter. Three minutes later David and Espe 3s had the Knights within 59-57.
"We were lacking defensively the entire game and that point was when we needed defense the most, just get a couple stops to get us going," said Feiza, who scored a team-high 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor and 9 of 9 from the line.
"Because offense wasn't an issue, we scored 60 points," he said. "Just defense, we need some stops."
Kaneland didn't allow another field goal, but West Chicago scored 8 straight points on free throws -- two from clutch sophomore Haroon, four from Gimre and two from Wilkins that earned a 67-57 Wildcats lead with 5 seconds left. West Chicago made 24 of 31 free throws on the night.
"I thought that Bill (Recchia) did a great job of getting the ball in the right guys' hands, so when we fouled the right guys were at the free-throw line, which meant they were going to get 2 points either way," said Kaneland coach Joe Conroy.