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Niles- Dan Kienzle (left) Nazareth looks to pass around the pressure of Jake Maestranzi ND.The boys of Nazareth Academy travel to the home of the Notre Dame Dons for Friday night basketball.| Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Coach John Bonk remembers watching Dan Kienzle before he enrolled at Nazareth and being impressed by his energy.
The senior guard hasn’t slowed down since.
“He has endless energy,” Bonk said. “We rarely have to take him off the floor. We knew he was a hard-working kid coming out of grade school. He’s always played at that (high) tempo, so we knew if he did that some of his skills would get better and they have.”
Kienzle has been one of the team’s top players the past two seasons and turned in one of his better efforts Saturday.
He scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to help the Roadrunners earn an impressive 61-55 nonconference victory over host Fenwick.
“My career is coming to a close, so getting this win was big,” said Kienzle, who is also a talented baseball player for the Roadrunners. “This was certainly up there as one of the biggest wins of my career. Coming up with a big win over Fenwick, our neighborhood rival, was big.”
The Roadrunners (12-12) have had an up-and-down season, but Kienzle, who lives in Chicago, has enjoyed his experience at Nazareth and is confident the team can finish the season strong.
“I came (to Nazareth) knowing this would be a good fit for me and my family,” Kienzle said. “I knew this team could win. I knew we were going to have some good players coming in when I was in eighth grade. We had a good class and we’re all seniors now, so it’s been really fun. I really like the guys.”
Kienzle has had a positive impact on his younger teammates.
Junior Kevin Connelly, who also played a key role in the Roadrunners’ win Saturday, was not surprised by Kienzle’s performance against the Friars.
“He’s unbelievable,” Connelly said. “He really came up big for us. We needed him to step up and he did. He’s probably one of the best teammates. He’s always there giving me advice. He’s been here a couple years now and it’s good to have him around.”
Bonk knows that if his team is to make a postseason run, Kienzle will figure prominently.
“He’s a team player,” Bonk said. “He wants to win, like all our seniors and players. He’s developed each year. He has some limitations like all high school kids do, but whatever those limitations are he overcomes them with all the other things he can do. Every night we play, we put him on the best offensive player on the opposing team. He plays bigger and is a good rebounder for his size. He’s been a great kid to coach.“ ~.