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Kaneland clicking in boys basketball summer league

GENEVA – Ask Kaneland coach Brian Johnson what he’s learned about his boys basketball team during summer vacation and he begins with a qualifier.

“It’s kind of a go from league game to league game kind of thing,” Johnson said. “We don’t always have
our full team, so it’s a lot of looking at individuals and who works well and seeing what kind of Xs and Os can carry over into the regular season.”

Seniors Ty Carlson, Drew David and John Pruett have figured prominently into each of those combinations, even as they, like many teammates, balance a loaded summer schedule of AAU basketball and other Kaneland summer sports.

While David, the Knights’ point guard, returns as a seasoned starter, he has improved the consistency of his shot while limiting turnovers during Geneva summer league games, which continued Monday.

“I think he’s been that leader the last couple years, but it’s a different situation when you’re a senior and now it’s your last go at it,” Johnson said.

Carlson, another guard, earns praise for hustle and hard work, while Johnson finds Pruett, a 6-foot-2 forward, has “moved his game up another level.”

That leap stalled slightly when Pruett sprained an ankle during a league game against Burlington Central last week. Contesting a shot on the arc, he landed awkwardly.

Johnson said Pruett would be fine, and the injury just needed time. It’s coming soon: The team’s summer schedule will end Thursday with the conclusion of the Morris Shootout.

Winding down: St. Francis scheduled summer games into early July in past years, but is shutting down its summer program this week, as well.

“We’re gone every weekend with a shootout and we’ve had a couple shootouts during the week, little mini-shootouts,” said Spartans coach Bob Ward, whose team played at Plainfield East over the weekend. “At the end of the summer, we kind of try to re-evaluate each year. Just kind of, ‘Hey, what did you think about last year?’ I just thought that ending it this week would be what was best for us. And I really think that we’ve had a pretty good summer.”

The Spartans graduated the core of their 3A supersectional qualifier and will rely on starting minutes from 2012-13 reserves, namely sturdy senior forward Kilian Brown of Geneva.

Let’s get together: Johnson has organized an as-yet-unnamed, six-team shootout
for Feb. 15 at Kaneland. Matchups will feature Kaneland against Hillcrest, North Chicago against Larkin and St. Charles North against
an opponent to be determined.

“I’m hoping that it’s a program that people don’t necessarily get a chance to see,” Johnson said.

That was the main allure of bringing in Hillcrest and North Chicago, and partly the influence of longtime former Batavia coach Jim Roberts, the brainchild of Batavia’s “Night of Hoops” and an eager Johnson consultant for this event.

Roberts passed along contact information for Hillcrest coach Don Houston, and the networking took over from there.

“It’s more for our kids and our community,” Johnson said. “Just continuing to build our program up and give kids great experience. Trying to get a regional atmosphere in our gym, I think, is really important.”

Vikings break through: Geneva finished in the top eight of this weekend’s 48-team Wisconsin team camp, going 4-1 and losing only to Howard Pulley, an elite AAU program based in Minneapolis.

Howard Pulley’s alumni include current NBA players Harrison Barnes and Kris Humphries, as well as Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, a multi-sport standout in high school.

“A very solid effort from all of our guys,” Vikings coach Phil Ralston said. “We really had a good trip.”

This is the end: Wednesday’s single-elimination, session-ending tournament will be played as scheduled after the league last week made up the slate of June 12 games postponed due to inclement weather.

The tournament begins at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday and is set to conclude around 9.

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