LaSalle-Peru surprises Kaneland

La Salle-Peru senior Josh Senica is battling through injuries and illness these days for the Cavaliers.

You wouldn’t know it from the way he played during a pivotal Interstate 8 Conference game at Kaneland on Friday night in Maple Park.

Senica scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half and secured 10 rebounds to help the Cavaliers rally for a 59-48 victory.

“I was nice to get back finally,” Senica said. “We knew we could beat them. They are a good team, but we figured maybe it’ll be sweeter to beat them at their house. And it’s been a while since we beat them, here especially.”

La Salle-Peru coach John Senica requested offense from him in the second half.

“He’s been under the weather and been hurt the last three or four games,” John Senica said. “He’s probably not 100% yet. I told him in the second half that you’ve got to help us out if we’re going to win. I said I need some offense from you so see what you can do. He stepped up to the plate and started to score for us.”

Kaneland (16-4, 4-1) hadn’t lost since before Christmas, winning the Plano Christmas Classic and continuing its winning ways into the new year. The Knights had won seven straight and had swept the season series against La Salle-Peru the past two seasons.

The game had a somewhat similar finish to when the teams met on Dec. 12 with the Knights rallying from behind in the fourth quarter before forcing and winning in OT, 58-52.

This time it was the Cavaliers doing the rallying on the road.

Senior Seth Adams’ layup 20 seconds into the fourth quarter gave the Cavaliers their first lead of the game at 43-42 since they were up 7-6 midway through the first quarter.

“It’s exciting and we don’t ever give up on a game,” Adams said. “I feel like we are always fighting to stay in a game even if we’re down 30 or it’s a close game. We’re always trying to fight. I think we’re a really tough team. They’ve put us through pretty hard practices and that prepares us for games like these. Coming off a couple weeks off, it was a struggle for both teams, but it was nice to finally come back.”

That lay-in was the first basket of the night for Adams, who later drilled a big three-pointer from the top of the key for a 52-48 lead with 3:03 remaining. The Knights remained stuck on 48 while Adams continued making free throws in the final minute, sinking 10-of-10 on the night. He finished with 15 points.

“That was probably my best free throw shooting day,” Adams said. “This year it’s been a so-so year free throw-wise, but I have been shooting pretty good in practice.”

La Salle-Peru (15-5, 3-2) held the Knights to just 14 second half points.

“First half we weren’t playing our aggressive defense and I told them we have to come out aggressive because Kaneland is a great team,” John Senica said. “Their coach does a great job with them. If we don’t come out aggressive, we’re going to have a problem. They stepped up. We talked about playing defense the way they’re supposed to play and rebounding and keeping guys in front of them and doing what they should do.”

The Knights hadn’t played in 11 days while the Cavaliers hadn’t been on the hardwood for 13 days.

“The weird thing for us is both teams only practiced like twice because we couldn’t get in the gyms and stuff (due to the weather),” Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. “In the first half I thought we played pretty well, up seven at the half, but in the second half it looked like an entirely different team. I credit that to L-P. I thought we got too one dimensional on offense. We weren’t moving the ball and I think we were trying to do too much individually. Also, they were playing good defense and I think the other big thing is they killed us on the boards in the second half.”

Troyer Carlson and Parker Violett each scored 11 points while Freddy Hassan had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Knights.

“The good news is our goals for the season are still out there,” Colombe said. “We have tough games coming up beginning with DeKalb on Tuesday. It’s going to be a challenge to win 20 games, but hopefully we can do that. We think we can. And we want to win conference. It’s still out there, but we’re going to have to bounce back.”

Erick Sotelo chipped in with eight points and Mikey Hartmann scored all seven of his points in the first half for the Cavaliers.

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