MAPLE PARK – Kaneland basketball teams used accurate free-throw shooting and overpowering defense to sweep Burlington Central during Pack the Place Night on Saturday.
The girls team connected on 31 of 39 free-throw attempts to defeat the Rockets, 56–53, in overtime.
The boys’ team out-defensed Burlington, 38-30. Both boys teams managed a total of six baskets in the second half of the game.
“It was ugly,” admitted Kaneland boys coach Brian Johnson. “ I like our defensive effort [Saturday] and that’s the best defense I’ve seen [Burlington] play. I think we should feel real lucky we came away with a win tonight.”
The girls game could have been called "Free Throw Fest" as the Rockets (14-3) also took frequent trips to the free throw line, tallying 25 on 33 attempts.
“We’re not the biggest team so we have got to be aggressive on offense and one of the ways we measure that is how many times we get to the free throw line,” said Kaneland girls coach Ernie Colombe. “So going to it 39 times tonight shows a change from last night. We had a tough loss and only got two free throws attempts.'
Kaneland’s Emma Bradford (12 points) was fouled while attempting a shot with 27.9 seconds left in regulation. She converted both of them to give the Knights (10-6) a 44-42 lead.
On the Rockets’ next possession, Alison Colby was fouled with 7.4 seconds to go. She connected on both throws to tie the game.
The Knights were unable to get a shot off before time expired.
Kaneland scored 10 of its 12 overtime points from the free throw line with Sarah Grams sinking six of them. Her first two at the start of the period regained the lead for the Knights, 46-44. Her last four cemented the win.
“Pressure is what you put on yourself, so I just looked at it as any other free throw,” Grams said.
The senior guard tallied 10 points on the night, all from the charity stripe. Ashley Prost also scored 10 points.
In contrast, the Kaneland boys (8-6) made only one free throw in the first half as both teams struggled on the offensive side. Kaneland led, 19-16, at the half as the teams combined for only 16 baskets in the first two quarters.
Scoring became more infrequent in the second half.
The Rockets’ Reed Hunnicutt swished the only three-pointer of the game at the third period buzzer to give his team a 25-24 lead. Kaneland rallied at the start of the fourth quarter to regain the lead. A Limbrunner long jump shot from the right corner gave the Knights a 30-26 lead and was the last basket of the game.
“They don’t ask you how you want them only how many and that’s all that matters,” Kaneland guard Drew David (eight points) said.