Kaneland overcomes Rochelles perimeter game
The outlook for Kaneland looked bleak at the intermission.
Visiting Rochelle drained nine 3-pointers in the first half to take an 11-point lead into the locker room of the schools' Northern Illinois Big XII Conference boys basketball game Thursday night in Maple Park.
But with Matt Limbrunner and John Pruett dominating the paint in the second half, the Knights roared back for a 65-62 victory.
"(Kaneland coach Brian Johnson) wanted us to get (the deficit) down to manageable level going into the fourth quarter," said Pruett, who scored 11 of his 17 points after halftime. "We were aggressive, attacking the rim. Then we made our free throws at the end when it counted."
Brandon O'Rorke hit the Hubs' 14th 3-pointer of the contest with 40 seconds remaining to bring Rochelle to within 63-62, but Drew David calmly responded with a pair of clutch free throws with 28.5 seconds to play.
Rochelle (5-11, 1-4) held the ball for a final shot; following a timeout its bid for another long-range conversion fell woefully short at the buzzer.
Kaneland (9-6, 3-1) had survived, largely by limiting the Hubs to two 11-point second-half quarters after Rochelle bombed away with impunity for a 40-29 lead at the break.
"We have shot that well a couple of times this season," said Rochelle guard Grant Prusator, who drained five 3-pointers in scoring a team-high 17 points. "We've got a lot of shooters on the team. But we have to be able to score points when the 3-pointers aren't falling."
Limbrunner was at the epicenter of the Knights' second-half comeback.
The senior post, who led both teams with 23 points, scored five consecutive team field goals during one stage of the third quarter to personally bring the Knights to within 51-45 entering the fourth quarter.
"Matt is Matt," Pruett said. "He is our go-to guy."
Kaneland continued to chip away, and Pruett had back-to-back field goals in transition to stake the Knights to their largest lead of the game at 59-56.
A David free-throw jumper would be the Knights' final field goal of the game with three minutes to play, and the Knights' scrambling defense denied the Hubs three straight times in one-possession sequences.
It was a far cry from the opening minutes as Rochelle southpaw Luke Manning scored 11 of his 16-points in the first quarter; Prusator then rainbowed home the same number in the Hubs' 21-point second quarter.
"That's what they do," Johnson said of Rochelle. "They play fast and shoot the ball. We needed to do a better job of guarding the arc, which we did in the second half. We were fortunate to get the win."
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