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Sandwich's Dakota Padilla and Kaneland's John Prueti scramble after a loose ball Saturday in a play-in round game of the Plano Christmas Classic. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

The rims didn’t look small, but the way outside shots weren’t falling

for Kaneland and Sandwich Sautrday in their Plano Christmas Classic

opener, an observer had to wonder.

The Knights, who missed all nine of their shots from beyond the

3-point line in the game, solved the issue by going inside and took

advantage of 29-19 rebounding edge to claim a 52-31 decision over the

Indians.

“They’re the first team that has muscled us like that on the

defensive end. We haven’t seen that,” said Sandwich coach Ben Bates,

whose team fell to 1-5 and is still fighting to get its legs under it

after not playing in a season-opening Thanksgiving Tournament.

“They flat out pushed us around and killed us on the offensive

boards. We have been getting steals and layups.”

Not in this game. The Knights had just 10 turnovers and got 19 points

from forward Tyler Carlson, 12 from John Pruett and 11 from Matt

Limbrunner.

“Our main goal was to control the tempo of the game and I felt like

we did that today,” said Carlson, who had a game-high 10 rebounds.

“I think our defense created a lot of our offense toward the end

there,” said Kaneland coach Brian Johnson, whose 4-4 team led 10-8

after one quarter but held the Indians scoreless for the opening 6:19

of the second quarter and led 18-13 at halftime.

It was 30-22 after three before the Knights blew it open with a 22-9

edge in the fourth quarter.

“We were able to get some turnover and then get a couple easy

baskets,” continued Johnson. “And, we got some offensive putbacks and

a few that turned out to be ‘and-ones’ and that helped to get a little

separation.

“We wanted to work inside but we probably settled for 3s (early on)

and when we’re not hitting them, we’re struggling.”

So was Sandwich, which went just 2 of 15 from beyond the arc and

managed just 29 percent (12-41) from the floor for the game.

“I thought Dan Miller did an excellent job on (Sandwich forward) Seth

McDonald,” said Johnson. “(McDonald) is a pretty dynamic scorer and he

limited him to five points. Miller doesn’t get huge offensive stats

but he hits and boards and does a lot of nice things for us.”

Senior guard Liam Crotty led the Indians (1-5) with eight points.

“They worked hard and had more of a will to win. And we had a lot of

fouls, too,” said Crotty. “It was a 16-to-5 ratio at one point and

they made a lot of free throws.”

The Knights finished 18 of 21 from the line while Sandwich made all

five of its attempts.

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