Knights beaten by the three
BATAVIA — The three-point shot isn't something St. Francis bases its success on necessarily.
Well, maybe it is.
One night after connecting for only three three-pointers, the Spartans came back Saturday night and buried seven en route to a 63-50 victory over Kaneland for the tournament title of the Ken Peddy Windmill City Basketball Classic.
"We don't set goals for three-point attempts, but rather take the opportunities when they're there, which is part of our game," said Spartans coach Bob Ward, whose team finished with a perfect 3-0 record in the round-robin tourney. "We've got kids that can shoot the three and they're going to take it when they can."
After playing to a 15-all first quarter, St. Francis found its groove in the second and pulled ahead 24-19 on a three-pointer from Jason Pisarski with 5:21 left. Kaneland responded to close within three at 27-24 after free throws from both John Pruett and Bailey Harvell, but St. Francis finished the half scoring six of the final nine points to stake a 33-26 advantage at the break.
"You're looking for progress at this time of the year and you're also looking to play in different situations," Ward said. "So we looked (at this tournament) as us getting the experience of playing three games in four nights and seeing how we would perform. After a slow start, I thought we steadied ourselves at the end of the first half and created some separation that carried us through the rest of the game."
The Spartans pulled away in the second half as they pushed their lead 10 at 44-34 on a three-pointer from Andrew Kimball and later upped it to 21 at 61-40 on a jumper from Kevin McShea with 5:28 remaining in the contest. Pisarski led St. Francis, scoring nine of his 16 points in the second half.
"We stepped up our defensive pressure and got some easy baskets as a result," Ward said. "The hallmark of this team has been unselfishness and hopefully it stays that way throughout the season."
Junior forward John Pruett led Kaneland (0-3) with a game-high 20 points and Matt Limbrunner added 11.
"It was frustrating to go 0-3 but we definitely saw a lot of positives from our guys in this tournament," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. "We just need to keep our heads up and learn from the mistakes that we're making during games."