WEST CHICAGO – An all-senior starting lineup got the Wheaton Academy boys basketball team off to a fast start on Senior Night on Saturday, and the Warriors went on to rout Kaneland in a nonconference contest, 66-46.
“Senior Night gave us a lot of energy,” Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson said. “Our crowd was fired up and our guys came out and had a great start.”
The Warriors (18-5) scored the first 10 points of the game behind the hot shooting of Collin Roy, who scored eight of those points.
“We wanted to come out and play strong for Senior Night and give the fans a little show,” Roy said. “I think we did that.”
Roy continued to blister the nets the rest of the game, finishing with 29 points. Wheaton Academy post player Gordon Behr, a 6-8 junior, came off the bench with a lot of fire, as well, scoring 12 points, grabbing six rebounds, and blocking three shots.
“They’re really good,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. “It’s not like we just went out there and completely bombed. … Behr and Roy – wow, they’re really good. They may be the two best players on the same team that we’ve faced all year. They’re phenomenal players.”
The Knights (13-9) did little right in the early going, missing their first eight shots from the floor. They didn’t get on the scoreboard until Drew David hit a shot from the top of the key with 47 seconds left in the first quarter.
Things didn’t go much better for Kaneland in the second quarter as the Warriors took a 26-12 lead into halftime, and they got a whole lot worse early in the third. Roy scored nine quick points and Behr hit a shot from the right baseline to put Wheaton Academy up 38-16 midway through the quarter.
The Knights finally began to battle back behind the play of 6-4 senior forward Matt Limbrunner. He had 14 of his 16 points in the third quarter. He scored eight straight points to pull Kaneland to within 12 at 38-26 late in the period, but the Warriors pulled away again at the start of the fourth and led by 27, 58-31, when Jake Cousins drilled a 3-pointer with four minutes to play.
Brandon Ruggles secured seven rebounds for Wheaton Academy to help the Warriors establish early dominance on the boards. Senior Gabe Partain contributed eight points to the winning effort.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Ferguson said of his seniors, including 6-2 utility man Cole Fritz. “They love each other. They play together, and the results show for themselves.”
Roy said he thinks the Warriors are clicking on all cylinders heading into the postseason.
“We’re a really tight-knit group and I think that helps us so much,” Roy said. “Hopefully, we can make a run in the playoffs.”
It was the third straight loss for Kaneland, which was coming off a tough loss to DeKalb that denied the Knights a chance at clinching a conference title.
“We can’t make excuses like that,” Johnson said. “We need to get better. We can’t just come out and say we had a rough one last night.”
Fouls also played a huge part in the game as the two teams were whistled for just more than 50 infractions. The Knights were called for 19 fouls in the second half alone.