It’s still pretty early in the season, but Kaneland has made it perfectly clear it wants to get out and run every chance it gets.
The Knights found a willing partner in Rochelle Friday night, and the result was a game that was at times played at track meet speed.
In the end, things worked out well for Kaneland, as it led from late in the first quarter on and grabbed an 83-63 win in a Northern Illinois Big 12 game.
Kaneland (3-2, 1-1) spent the first half trying to decide what it wanted to do on offense, mostly settling for jump shots that for the most part didn’t fall. So the adjustment was pretty easy, start going to the rim.
Leading by eight (39-31) at the break, the Knights started to get out and go, and several layups later had pushed the lead to 55-37 just five minutes into the second half.
For the night, Kaneland shot 52 percent (34-for-66), but the disparity between two-point shots and 3-pointers was staggering. The Knights made just three of their 19 attempts from behind the arc, and went 31-for-47 (66 percent) inside of it.
“We were able to transition, and we were pretty lucky with that,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. “Our 3-point shot wasn’t falling much, and when that isn’t happening you have to make them work on defense. I thought if we could get the ball down the floor a little we could tire them out, and we did.”
They also shared the ball well, as five Knights were in double figures, led by 16 points off the bench from Ben Barnes. The speedy point guard was joined in the club by John Pruett and Dylan Vaca, who had 14 apiece, while Tyler Carlson and Ryan David had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“I wanted to come off the bench, do my job and execute,” Barnes said. “I wanted to play in control and go with the flow. We were going with fast breaks, and coach wanted us to get it and go so I just took it all the way (to the basket).”
Johnson feels like the strength of the team comes from its balance, and how everyone is more than willing to share the basketball.
“That’s been the trend throughout the year, we’ve had multiple guys who have been scoring,” Johnson said. “Everyone is unselfish, we don’t have a guy that says they need the ball or need to get points. It’s nice to keep everyone involved, and who doesn’t like playing on a team where everyone gets the ball?”
Tyler Joyce scored a game-high 17 points to lead Rochelle, while Angel Buciaga shook off three first quarter fouls to toss in 15.