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St. Charles North sophomore boys basketball player sparks North Stars to win over Kaneland

ST. CHARLES – Kaneland boys basketball coach Brian Johnson lost his shoe demonstratively protesting a foul call in the third quarter of Tuesday’s boys basketball game at St. Charles North.

The other shoe dropped on the Knights in the fourth quarter in the form of North sophomore Jack Callaghan.

Callaghan, a reserve forward, scored 11 of his career high 13 points in the final quarter as the North Stars pulled away for a 61-50 nonconference victory against Kaneland.

Callaghan made all four of his fourth quarter shots, three from 3-point land and another on a run-out after his steal at the other end.

“I was open, and my teammates got it to me,” Callaghan said of his fourth quarter outburst. “It was in rhythm. I think that was probably the best I’ve shot, definitely, [this season].”

It was the fourth straight win for North (15-8) while Kaneland (13-10) has dropped four in a row after winning seven straight games beforehand.

On North’s final home game of the season, North Stars senior standout Quinten Payne was happy to share the spotlight with Callaghan.

“When we didn’t really have a point guard in there when we subbed and went with a little bit of a bigger lineup, we were just getting it out and running, and he was spotting up well in transition,” Payne said. “He had a great defensive steal and he got a layup, and he did a great job running and getting in the right spots when we pushed it up.”

Another North sophomore, Jake Ludwig, buried a long 3-pointer to give North a 43-37 lead in the final seconds of a somewhat bizarre third quarter.

The teams were tied, 28-all, at halftime but North surged ahead, 40-33, after junior guard Alec Goetz made four straight free throws when Johnson was called for a technical foul in response to forward Matt Limbrunner being whistled for a blocking foul on a hard drive by Goetz. One of Johnson’s dress shoes flew onto the floor as attempted to demonstrate his point to the officials.

Johnson called the episode “a little weird, but it happens, I guess.” It was certainly a first for him.

On a more serious note, Johnson was pleased with the effort his Knights displayed against their bigger-school opponent on the heels of what has been a rough first two weeks of February for Kaneland, which remains in first place in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.

“I actually thought tonight we turned the corner as far as what we were doing the previous three games,” Johnson said. “After tonight, I’m really encouraged moving forward with the final three games of the year.”

Conversely, North coach Tom Poulin was dissatisfied with North’s showing in the first half, especially in the hustle categories.

“We were teaching them loudly at halftime and asking for a little bit more out of them, especially on the glass and on the 50/50 balls, the loose balls,” Poulin said. “It seemed like Kaneland wanted it more in the first half, and our guys, they were playing, but they weren’t playing as hard as they could, is what it looked like. I’m sure they were giving effort.”

Limbrunner scored a game-high 19 points and had seven rebounds, while teammate Ty Carlson scored nine of his 11 points in the first half for the Knights.

Payne, part of a deep senior class that includes fellow starters Tony Neari, Justin Stanko and Kyle Swanson, scored 11 points in the final home game of his three-year varsity career. He and Neari combined for a slick passing sequence on a North Stars fast break that ended with a layup for senior forward Matt Pretet to give North a 50-40 lead in the fourth quarter.

“It’s great playing your last game on your home floor, but it’s more about winning and getting deep in the state tournament, because that’s our goal,” Payne said.

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