Kaneland runs by Rochelle
The beauty of basketball is that the style of play can change from game to game.
A week ago, Kaneland opened its Northern Illinois Big XII Conference East season with a tough 41-38 loss at Sycamore in what Knights coach Brian Johnson called, "a physical battle against a rugged team."
On Friday night, the Knights (3-2, 1-1) topped the 38-point mark before the end of the first half against Rochelle (2-4, 0-2).
Kaneland repeatedly pushed the pace and turned the game into a "get it and go" style en route to an 83-63 victory over the visiting Hubs in Maple Park.
"It's playing two completely different teams," Johnson said of the huge turnaround in a 7-day period. "Sycamore was the type of team that makes you work for everything. Rochelle wanted to speed the game up. We were lucky to get the ball in the hole tonight."
The Knights did that with regularity, shooting an astonishing 69 percent from 2-point range (31-for-45) on a night where they struggled from beyond the arc (3-for-19).
"Our 3-point shot wasn't falling much," admitted Johnson. "When that's (3-point shooting) not happening, you've got to make them work on defense. I thought if we could get the ball down the floor a little bit maybe we could tire them out and we did."
Kaneland began to open its lead late in the first quarter when it scored the last 6 points -- both coming on 3-point plays from Tyler Carlson and Ben Barnes.
Barnes' putback pushed the Knights' lead to 22-13 after 1 quarter.
After Rochelle trimmed its deficit to 41-33 on a pair of free throws by Tyler Joyce (17 points) early in the third quarter, the Knights found another gear.
Their subsequent 10-0 run that featured a pair of layups from sophomore Dylan Vaca, an inside bucket from Tyler Carlson and a driving layup by John Pruett extended the margin to 51-33 with 4:22 remaining in the third period.
Kaneland, which led by as many as 25 points, put the game away with an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Barnes, who came off the bench to lead the Knights with 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting, fueled the late surge with a pair of baskets.
"Playing at a fast pace is sort of my speed," said Barnes. "I've got to slow myself down sometimes. I just try to come off the bench and do my job."
"Ben has deserved the opportunity," said Johnson. "He has been working really hard in practice. He has to run the point guard for our second unit. He doesn't get a lot of reps with the first unit but he has been doing a great job.
"I know Drew (David) has made comments to me about how hard he (Barnes) is to guard because he's so fast. He showed that tonight."
Pruett (14 points), Vaca (14), Tyler Carlson (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Ryan David (10) joined Barnes in double figures for the Knights.
"That has been the trend throughout the year so far," said Johnson. "Everybody is unselfish. We don't have a guy who says, 'I need to have the ball, I need to have my points.' Actually, I've got to tell John (Pruett) to be more like that because he's so unselfish."