Ottawa shoots by Kaneland
When a team hits every 3-pointer it throws up — even ones from half-court — maybe it's not going to be your night.
Ottawa couldn't miss in the first half of the 50th annual Plano Christmas Classic on Friday, going 6 for 6 on 3-pointers. The Pirates built a 30-18 halftime lead, then held off Kaneland's second-half surge for a 60-50 victory.
Ottawa (9-3) will play No. 1 seed Belvidere North for the tournament championship at 8:30 p.m. Saturday while Kaneland (6-5) meets Aurora Christian (8-5) for third place at 7 p.m.
"We shot really well the first half and allowed us to gain a little separation," said Ottawa coach Mark Cooper whose team cooled off a little in the second half but still finished shooting 73 percent on 3s (8 of 11). "It was a good win for our kids, they did a lot of really good things. We had a little mo-jo in that first half. Our guys are enjoying playing with each other right now."
JD Bryant scored 16 points, Cody Stokes 15, John Carroll 14 and Nick Harsted 11, mostly from the perimeter and free-throw line where they combined to make 12 of 15.
"That run was a little too much in the first half," Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. "We were tired, that was for sure. Ottawa played really well and outworked us. They hit shots and we were giving up a lot of contested shots and they deserve to be in the championship game tomorrow."
Kaneland fell behind 8-1 to start the game and trailed again 15-12 on a desperation heave at the first-quarter buzzer.
A 3-point play from John Pruett and Matt Limbrunner's 3 put the Knights up 18-15, but that turned out to be their last lead of the game — and their last points of the first half as the Pirates outscored them 15-0 to end the second quarter to lead 30-18 at halftime.
Second-chance baskets from Limbrunner and Tyler Carlson got the Knights going early in the third-quarter. Kaneland got as close as 4 points in the second half as late as 50-46 with 1:30 to go.
"The third quarter, Kaneland is a proud program," Cooper said. "They have won a lot of basketball games in recent years and they have been playing well in recent weeks. We knew they were going to make a push. We started attacking their traps a little better."
Pruett led the Knights with 15 points. Limbrunner scored 12 and Carlson 11.
The Knights got back into the game in part with their effort on the glass. They outrebounded Ottawa 39-18 including a 19-3 advantage on the offensive boards.
Dan Miller led the way with 12 rebounds. Pruett and Limbrunner both grabbed 8.
"We made a run and they hit a couple shots and then we'd be down again," Johnson said. "There just wasn't too much consistency tonight on the defensive end for us. We pride ourselves on defense and when we give up 60 points it's going to be hard for us to win the games."
Kaneland's loss does set up a local third-place game with Aurora Christian, a matchup that also could have been fun to watch in recent years in football given both programs' success. The two quarterbacks of those teams, Ryan McQuade and Drew David, will be part of Saturday night's basketball game.
"Aurora Christian wants to play really, really fast and they want to attack the hoop and let it fly so we're going to have to be able to counter by being solid on defense and working on offense for good looks," Johnson said. "If we get into a running game with them we're going to really struggle."
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