AURORA – The Kaneland boys basketball team pushed the Burlington Central Rockets to the brink of an upset, but couldn’t get over the final hump.
The Knights fell, 49-41, in a Class 3A Aurora Central Catholic Regional semifinal.
Kaneland’s Blake Feiza caught fire in the third quarter, pounding nine straight points in the paint to propel the Knights within four points at the end of the third quarter. Feiza finished with a game-high 19 points.
“I definitely got back in my zone. It felt good to be there. Rhett Espe did a great job getting me the ball,” Feiza said. “I was just in my groove.”
Feiza hit two free throws with 5:33 left in the game to cut the lead for the Rockets (26-3) to 38-36, but the Rockets had one more run in them. Burlington Central scored five straight points after the free throw and put the game out of reach.
“I thought the momentum swung our way, but we just couldn’t get a shot to fall,” Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said.
Junior Wyatt Peeler banked in a trey with 45 seconds, but the Rockets connected on all of their free throws to close out the game.
“I was really pleased with our team and our ability to spread their zone out,” Burlington Central coach Brett Porto said. “After that, it was kind of all she wrote.”
The Rockets shot out to an 11-0 lead to start the game, holding the Knights (11-19) scoreless for the first four minutes of the game. The Knights bounced back to cut the lead in half and trailed only 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.
“I think guys realized that it wasn’t over and if we gave up now, it’d be done. Guys fought back and we played the hardest we have all season,” Feiza said.
By the numbers: For the Knights, Luke Brost had eight points and five rebounds and had five points, five rebounds, and two steals. For Burlington Central, Patrick Mayfield led the team with 18 points.
Beyond the stats: In the third quarter, Luke Brost went up hard to the basket and looked to get make the shot and get the foul, but it was called an offensive foul.
They said it: “I thought we had an ‘and-1’ for Luke Brost, and that was a three-point swing in their favor,” Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said.
Up next: Burlington Central will play at 7 p.m. Friday in the regional final at Aurora Central Catholic.