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Boys basketball: Kaneland overcomes deficit to beat Rochelle

Kaneland's John Pruett (right) battles Rochelle's Luke Manning for loose ball. | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

Kaneland's John Pruett (right) battles Rochelle's Luke Manning for a loose ball. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 11, 2013 12:11PM

Kaneland overcame double-digit deficits and Rochelle’s long-range bombing to hang on for a 65-62 home victory Thursday.

“Just a typical game with Rochelle,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said with a nod to last year’s regional overtime win over the Hubs which gave the Knights the rubber match win over their Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference foe.

“Obviously they shot the ball well (from outside) and that’s what they do, but in the second half we guarded the arc much better,” Johnson added in reference to Rochelle (5-11) nailing 9-of-15 first-half field goals from three-point range, but having only 5-of-8 over the third and fourth quarters.

Kaneland (9-6) had the game’s opening bucket and added another for a 4-3 lead before Rochelle built a 19-14 first-quarter advantage and varying double-figure leads prior to a 40-29 halftime tally.

“We’ve been down like that before in other games and even against Rochelle, so we knew we just had to come back and play much better defense in the second half,” said Drew David, who was also instrumental offensively with a bucket and 3-of-4 free throws over the fourth quarter when the Knights outscored Rochelle 20-11.

The third quarter was the Matt Limbrunner Show as the senior forward used putbacks, lean-in drives and pivot jumpers to score 12 of his game-high 23 points.

“They’ve got good players who can hit a lot of threes, but our goal was to keep chipping away and get it down to five or six by the end of third quarter (51-45),” Limbrunner said. “Defensively we were more prepared over the second half and kept scoring.”

Dan Miller had a putback early in the fourth quarter and nailed a pair from the charity stripe with 5:12 remaining to put the Knights on top for the first time since the game’s initial baskets. Consecutive slashes by John Pruett — who had nine of his 17 points (three shy of a career-best) in the second half — kept momentum with Kaneland and set the stage for David’s crucial points over the final three minutes.

Rochelle, still missing an all-conference standout in Matt Rosenwinkel, welcomed the return of another standout in Grant Prusator. The Hubs’ senior finally returned to action in big-time fashion with 11 points in the second quarter and the last two of his five three-pointers during the third frame. His 17 points were matched by Luke Manning, who carried Rochelle in the opening eight minutes with 14 points. Kole Smart chipped in 13.

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