Sophomore duo leads Kaneland past Sycamore
The Kaneland boys basketball team kept its Interstate 8 Conference title hopes alive with a senior night win, 56-49 over the Sycamore Spartans.
"You want to send your seniors out with a win," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "We were able to get all of them in and they deserve that. Sycamore is a good team. They could've come in here and spoiled the conference race but we're still in the thick of things."
Kaneland (16-5, 9-3) still sits a half-game behind Rochelle for the top spot in the conference standings while Ottawa holds a tiebreaker over the Knights.
After trailing the Spartans (12-13, 6-7) by five after the first quarter, the Knights rallied to tie the score at halftime before defensive adjustments helped them take control in the second half. Kaneland sophomore guard Troyer Carlson had a game-high 22 points with several baskets coming on fastbreak opportunities.
"The first half we weren't talking at all and they were getting easy layups," Carlson said. "We came back in the second half talking and got the job done on defense."
Sycamore's offense was consistent, scoring 12 points in each period except the third when they finished with 13. The issues for the Spartans came early in the third quarter when the Knights started gashing the passing and driving lanes.
"They did a good job extending on defense and getting in the passing lane," Sycamore coach Andrew Stacy said. "We needed to be more fundamentally sound in our passes. The other thing I think was we didn't do a very good job helping them recover. They were able to get their heads down, beat our guy and we didn't have much help there. That gave up some easy lanes to the basket."
While the seniors were the ones celebrated pregame, it was a pair of sophomores that led the Knights in scoring. On top of Carlson's performance finished, Knights sophomore forward Parker Violett added 15 points of his own.
The sophomore duo for the Knights led the way early. Violett had all seven of the Knights' first-quarter points while Carlson had 10 points in the second quarter.
The Spartans had five different scorers in the first half, led by senior guard Tyler York with eight points. Sycamore led by five at the end of the first quarter, but the game was tied 24-24 at halftime.
Violett once again was hot out of the blocks, scoring six quick points in the third. Sycamore began to struggle with passes, leading to several free scores for Carlson and free possessions for the Knights.
"We had to keep battling," Colombe said. "We just had to keep playing hard and we got a little run in the third quarter but not by much. That gave us a little bit of breathing room but not a lot."
Sycamore started the fourth quarter down 44-37 in need of a spark. Defensive aggressiveness and six points by junior guard Eli Meier prevented the Spartans from slipping further behind, but clutch free-throw shooting by Carlson and senior guard Jacob Harrison helped the Knights clinch the win.
Kaneland plays in the Indian Creek Shootout tournament at 1:15 p.m. Saturday against East Dubuque. Sycamore will play a nonconference game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Stillman Valley.