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Drew David (4) of Kaneland drives past Cody Monson of Lisle. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
It wasn’t exactly David vs. Goliath, but the little guy doesn’t always win.
Class 3A Kaneland spotted 1A Newark a 1-0 lead Thursday thanks to a technical foul for a coach’s error involving the scorebook, but the Knights made it clear early they had their coach Brian Johnson’s back.
The Knights reeled off 11 straight points, led 15-3 after one quarter and 18-3 two minutes into the second on the way to a 54-35 quarterfinal victory at the 50th annual Plano Christmas Classic.
The Knights (6-4) will meet the winner of a late quarterfinal match between Ottawa and Seneca.
“It is nice to get off to a fast start and make them fight to get back in the game, which they did, to their credit,” Johnson said. “But we were able to get some turnovers and knock down some shots against their (3-2 extended) zone and that helped.”
The other key was the defensive job Kaneland senior forward Dan Miller did on Norseman standout Brett Anderson, who was limited to four first-half points and six through three quarters.
“We put Dan on the best player every game,” Johnson said. “Sometimes he guards a 6-4 guy (like Anderson), sometimes it’s 5-10, sometimes 6-6. (Miller) has no slow in him. His motor is always running.
“That, and it was a collective (defensive) effort for a player like Brett Anderson. To be able to have success against a guy like that, you need five guys.”
Newark battled to within 26-18 by outscoring the Knights 15-11 in the second quarter and scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to cut the deficit to four (26-22), but the Knights answered and pulled away.
Tyler Carlson led the way with 16 points but Kaneland also claimed a 33-12 advantage on the boards.
“We shot real poorly (31 percent, including 1-for-11 beyond the arc),” Newark coach Rick Tollefson said. “They were very physical with Brett and we just didn’t shoot the ball well. We missed free throws, missed layups.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy in the second half and got back into it, but with a team like ours that’s not very deep, you expend a lot of energy doing that.”
The night before, Newark had beaten Kaneland’s Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival Yorkville, and Johnson saw them down Sycamore and lose to Hampshire in overtime at Thanksgiving.
“They played hard and we knew it was gonna be tough coming in,” Carlson said. “We wanted to speed the game up and Dan Miller was face-guarding 50 (Anderson) most of the game. We knew he was a good player and (Miller) did a great job on him.”
Nine fourth-quarter points gave Anderson 15 for the night, but the next highest scorer for the Norsemen (8-5) was Kenny Hume, who had six.