Kaneland's defense handcuffs Sycamore
The Sycamore boys basketball team kept driving inside on the Kaneland defense and the Knights kept turning the Spartans away in a 46-28 win Friday in an Interstate 8 battle.
For Kaneland, it came out with the win despite having been on the court less than half a dozen times in the last three weeks as it continues to deal with COVID-19 protocols.
But the Knights picked up two big conference wins this week against Morris and Sycamore.
"Our guys are playing hard and that's all we're asking for," coach Ernie Colombe said. "We're not fully where we want to be on either end of the court. We thought we'd get two practices this weekend before we got these guys and one day they sent us home because of the roads."
On Friday, the Knights (7-3, 3-2) picked up the win by locking down the Spartans (9-7, 5-2), who shot 10 of 43 from the floor in the game -- and the five Sycamore starters shot 2 of 24. And that was with the Spartans trying to drive into the paint, a lot, and the Knights turning them away.
Parker Violett, who had 14 rebounds and two blocks in the win, said even with the limited practices the Knights were ready for what the Spartans were bringing.
"We like to help there and our big guys like to help block people," Violett said. "It's pretty good. It's nice having tall guards helping out."
Colombe said a fast, swarming defense inside was the key to the success.
"We're not the biggest team, but we don't really try to guard anybody individually," Colombe said. "We have to guard the ball with five guys, and they're buying into that. Tonight it showed."
Kaneland scored the first five points in the game, led 23-13 at the break and never led by less than double digits in the second half.
Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said his team was not patient enough to create lanes against the Knights.
"We weren't being patient," Stacy said. "When we were getting looks, we weren't shooting the ball, we were throwing it up there hoping it would go in. I think we settled for a lot of contested shots. We kind of forced things instead of trying to break them down."
Stacy said he thought the team might have success inside and that was part of the game plan heading in, but he thought the team didn't execute well enough.
"There were some things we saw on film that we might be able to get to the basket," Stacy said. "We just didn't do a good job executing that game plan. Against a good defensive team you have to be able to reverse it a couple times. You may not get it right away, but after a couple reversals some lanes open up and we weren't patient enough to do that."
Eli Meier came off the bench to score most of Sycamore's points, netting 15. No other Spartan scored more than four.
"He's a very good athlete," Stacey said of Meier, who is also the quarterback of the Spartans football team. "You saw that on the football field. It translates to the basketball floor as well. He was a bright spot."
Johnny Spallasso led the Knights with 17, Jacob Harrison added 14 and Violette scored seven. Troyer Carlson - at 6-2 one of the tall guards Violette mentioned - had seven rebounds.
Colombe said the performance of his team this week despite the lack of practices shows what it is made of.
"We're going to try and overcome what we've got to overcome," Colombe said. "We've been preaching let's control what you can control, and you can always control your attitude. I know that sounds simple but that's really what it is. And tonight we gutted another one out."