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West Chicago cools off Kaneland
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff

West Chicago’s Mike Zajac is fouled by Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner as he makes a shot for the basket in the third quarter on Tuesday, February 5.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Kaneland’s Matt Limbrunner passes around a block by West Chicago’s Jimmy Rizzo in the second quarter on Tuesday, February 5.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

West Chicago’s Jimmy Rizzo and Kaneland’s Tyler Carlson fight for a loose ball in the second quarter on Tuesday.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

A block by West Chicago’s Marco Lomibao comes premature as Kaneland’s John Pruett sinks a shot past him in the first quarter on Tuesday, February 5.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

West Chicago’s Mike Zajac shoots over a block by Kaneland’s John Pruett in the third quarter on Tuesday, February 5.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/5/2013 11:46 PM

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Kaneland might have entered its nonconference game with West Chicago Tuesday with a 7-game winning streak and on the verge of being conference champions — and the Wildcats with a 4-16 record — but those numbers meant nothing to Bill Recchia.

“Our record is not indicative of the type of basketball team we are,” the West Chicago coach said. “Five games we’ve got beat. The other ones we were in every single ballgame. With a little more maturity and discipline on the floor (those could have been wins). It’s a learning process. We’re a good ballclub despite our record.”

The Wildcats will get no argument from Kaneland. They outscored the Knights 21-10 in the third quarter to break open a close game, then led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter of their 54-43 victory in Maple Park.

John Konchar led the way for West Chicago (5-16) with 24 points including 10-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line. Kaneland (13-7) tried forward Dan Miller on him in the first half and point guard Drew David in the second with little success.

“He can shoot 3s, he’s very strong, he can take contact in the paint,” Kaneland coach Brian Johnson said. “He’d be the tallest player on our team. Once he gets in the paint he’s pretty hard to (stop).

“We tried to do some different things but he’s one of the best players we’ve seen all year and he showed why. He’s very good.”

The Wildcats were able to get what they wanted on the offensive end shooting 57 percent from the field (16 for 28) and 84 percent at the line (16 for 19).

Kaneland, meanwhile, hit just 7 of 22 shots from the floor in the first half on its way to a 38-percent shooting night, and the Knights got to the free-throw line just 6 times.

“The kids had a nice disciplined defensive effort,” Recchia said. “They executed the game plan.

“They are a great group of kids, I’m so proud of them. They started out playing competitive (this season) and despite the losses they have stayed competitive and are playing more with confidence now.”

After a back-and-forth first half with 7 lead changes, West Chicago quickly extended a 21-16 halftime lead to double digits.

Mike Zajac (12 points) sank a baseline jumper to open the third quarter. Marco Lomibao drained one of his three 3-point baskets, this one from the corner, and Konchar put the Wildcats up 28-17 taking the ball from one end of the court to the other for a lay-in, one of several times Konchar was able to beat Kaneland down the lane to finish at the rim.

The Wildcats ended up making 8 of 11 shots in the third quarter with Zajac and Dean Pauley adding 3s later in the quarter to stretch their lead to 42-26 going to the fourth.

“I just drove to the basket and we passed the ball and we actually made shots,” Konchar said. “Lately we haven’t been doing good (shooting).”

Kaneland never mounted much of a charge in the fourth quarter until the final two minutes when freshman Dylan Vaca’s layup capped an 8-2 run to end the game and trim the final margin to 11 points.

Matt Limbrunner, Kaneland’s leading scorer at 15 points per game, didn’t score until 2:42 left in the third quarter and finished with 4 points.

“It was a struggle,” Johnson said. “We didn’t capitalize on getting the ball in the middle of the floor very well. We couldn’t get Matt going. When you lose that scoring it makes it difficult for us to put a lot of points on the board.”

John Pruett and Tyler Carlson scored 9 points and Miller 8 to lead the Knights. They will honor seniors Miller and Limbrunner Friday while trying to clinch a share of the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference with a win over DeKalb.

“I want them to learn from their mistakes but they can’t dwell on it,” Johnson said. “They can’t think one game is going to dictate our season. We have a great opportunity Friday. There’s a lot on the line for us. The goal is to come out with a little more energy than we had tonight and execute a little better.”

Follow John Lemon on Twitter@jlemonDH