MAPLE PARK – It appeared that the Rochelle boys basketball team had found an antidote to Kaneland’s stifling defense in the first half their game Thursday night – sizzling perimeter shooting.
The Hubs’ nine 3-point shots in the opening half gave them an 11-point lead at halftime.
But the Knights’ defense reasserted itself in the second half as they pulled out a come-from-behind, 65-62 victory in Northern Illinois Big 12 East play.
“That’s a typical game with Rochelle. We were lucky to get back into it,” said Kaneland coach Brian Johnson, whose team trailed, 40-29, at the break. “They shoot the ball really well. They want to play fast and shoot the ball. We like to slow it down a little bit more but we were unable to do that [in the first half].”
In its previous two games, Kaneland (9-6, 3-1 NI Big 12 East) held opponents to 30 points each time. The Hubs (4-8, 1-3) hit the 30-point mark less than three minutes in to the second quarter.
Four Rochelle shooters, led by senior Luke Manning, combined for nine 3-pointers in the first half. Manning scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers. Junior Grant Prusator (17 points) had three first half baskets from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Kaneland tightened its defense and limited the Hubs to eight field goals, five of which were treys.
“We just guarded the arc better and turn them into players that have to drive,” Johnson said. “They did hit some big 3s down the stretch.”
On the offensive side, the Knights rallied in the third quarter and reduced Rochelle’s lead to six points, 51-45, by the end of the quarter.
Senior forward Matt Limbrunner scored 12 of his game high 23 points in the quarter. He also drained the Knights’ only 3-pointer of the night.
Kaneland tied the game at 51-all on two John Pruett (17 points) free throws at the 6:07 mark of the final period. Dan Miller scored two of his nine points on free throws to give his team the lead for good three and half minutes in to the quarter.
Rochelle re-asserted its long rang shooting to keep the game close. The Hubs sank three more 3-pointers in the period to stay within a point.
A Brendan O’Rorke trey with less than a minute left pulled his team within a point, 63-62, with less than a minute to go.
Junior point guard Drew David sank two free throws with 20.5 seconds left to make it 65-62.
With 9.8 seconds left, Rochelle inbounded the ball in search of what would have been the team’s 15th 3-ball of the night. But Prusator’s shot from beyond the arc at the buzzer fell short to seal the win for the Knights.