2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/28/2017 10:17 PM

Kaneland upsets Aurora Central Catholic

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It's that time of year you can throw out the records, which is just what the Kaneland boys basketball team couldn't wait to do.

Entering the Class 3A Sycamore regional this week at 8-20 with the No. 8 seed, and playing No. 2 seed and 20-6 Aurora Central Catholic Tuesday night, none of that mattered one bit.

Dan Franck scored a career-high 24 points, Kyle Stuart led a physical defensive effort against electric scorer Brett Czerak, and Kaneland walked away with a 48-40 upset win.

"I don't think anybody picked us to win," Franck said. "We're not really favored in any games anymore. We're going to run with that. The intensity was cranked up this game."

The Knights (10-20) held the Chargers to a season-low to advance to the regional championship Friday night against either Genoa-Kingston or Sycamore.

"All year long we've felt like we're better than our record shows," Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said. "We've taken our lumps all year long. We feel like we have way more to prove. To get to Friday night is a step in the right direction."

Playing a box-and-one for the first time this year on Czerak, ACC's all-time leading scorer, the Chargers instead went to Mac Cowen early. He buried two 3-point shots to make it 6-0, which turned out to be Aurora Central's biggest lead.

Kaneland, who outrebounded the Chargers 34-16 paced by Franck's 11, got back into the game with second-chance points. Franck and Stuart both scored on putbacks. Franck's conventional 3-point play after rebounding a missed free throw drew the Knights even at 11-11 after a quarter.

The Chargers started quickly in the second quarter including Czerak's only 3-pointer of the night to lead 18-13, but then went scoreless over the final six minutes of the half. Franck's jumper tied the game at 18, and his free throw after a technical foul on a Charger gave Kaneland a 19-18 halftime lead.

Jake Hed made a key hustle play with the Chargers holding for the last shot, knocking the ball away to force a jump ball.

"That was a turning point," Franck said. "We got a lot of momentum going into the half that way."

Nobody on the Chargers side was happy the first seven fouls were whistled on ACC, and Kaneland's only foul of the half came in the final minute.

"They were very physical with him (Czerak) and it didn't get called tonight," Chargers coach Nate Drye said. "They went an entire half without committing a foul. Pretty impressive when you can go 16 minutes without a single foul. That's pretty good."

"I know the fans were frustrated there were no fouls in the first half but they took all jump shots," Conroy said. "They didn't attack the rim."

Czerak opened the third quarter with a jumper to put the Chargers up 20-19, their final lead. Stuart knocked down a corner 3 immediately after Kyle Czerak hit one for the Chargers to keep Kaneland ahead.

Up 28-27 early in the fourth, Kaneland took control behind Franck. He scored 9 straight for the Knights on a combination of hard drives, transition scores and strong low-post moves for a 37-29 lead. The Chargers, who shot 14 of 40 from the field, couldn't get closer than 6 points.

"We didn't shoot the ball well tonight," Drye said. "We're a shooting team, and when we don't shoot it well we don't really have a fallback plan. That's just how we're wired.

"I think we let them stick around and then they got confident and played pretty well in the second half."

Cowen scored 13 points and Czerak had 15 as he leaves with over 1,800 career points.

"He has been terrific for me for four years," Drye said. "He's the best offensive player I've ever coached."

Kaneland junior Blake Feiza added 11 points and 7 rebounds, making 9 of 12 free throws.

"Friday night will be even more electric," Conroy said. "Now we have to figure out what we can do Friday to pull off another upset."

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