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Tyler Carlson (10) of Kaneland drives past Reed Hunnicutt (20) of Burlington Central. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
As far as appearance, it was not pretty, but the nonconference matchup between Kaneland and Burlington Central had plenty of personality. The host Knights displayed a tenacious defense and mustered enough offense for a 38-30 victory Saturday night.
Six-foot-4 senior Matt Limbrunner paced the Knights (8-6) with a double-double, tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds. Collectively, the Knights limited the Rockets (5-10) to a paltry two second-half field goals.
“I’m really happy with our defense,” said Kaneland coach Brian Johnson. “[Friday night] we held a team to 30 points and we did it again tonight. The defensive effort has been outstanding.”
Trailing 25-24 entering the final frame, the Knights managed to get to the bucket before salting the game away from the charity stripe. Drew David found John Pruett on a long backdoor pass to open the stanza and Limbrunner followed with a basket on a feed from Dan Miller for a 28-25 edge. Limbrunner added a 19-footer moments later for a 30-26 margin and some much-needed breathing room.
Meanwhile, the Rockets aim went awry as they missed all nine attempts from the field in the quarter while hitting five of eight attempts from the free throw line. Kaneland connected on three of four shots from the floor and eight of 14 freebees. The Rockets scored single digits in each stanza and finished nine of 34 from the field, including one of nine from beyond the arc.
“They played good man-to-man defense and the ball didn’t go in the hole tonight,” said Burlington Central coach Brett Porto. “It’s tough to win any games when you don’t make shots.”
Kaneland held a 22-16 margin with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter, but the Rockets closed the frame with a 9-2 run and appeared to have some momentum. Malik Harris and James Raney each hit a pair of free throws and Harris added a layup before Reed Hunnicutt drained a 23-footer off the glass as the horn sounded.
Yet the Rockets were stymied by the Knights defense in the fourth quarter and were forced to foul. David buried his four attempts to keep the Rockets at arm’s length.
“I thought that would give us some momentum too, but we came right out and had two defensive lapses and Kaneland lives on layups and free throws,” Porto explained. “At some point there I think we let some offensive frustration carry over to defensive lapses and you just can’t do that in a game like this.”
“I was trying to find the open spots and keep moving around,” said Limbrunner. “I fought for the offensive boards and some came right to me.”
David finished with eight points while Harris led the Rockets with nine points. Limbrunner grabbed five offensive rebounds. Kaneland outrebounded the Rockets 28-15.