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Jack Callaghan enjoyed a highlight-reel two minutes that sparked a 13-0 run by St. Charles North to lead the North Stars to a 61-50 non-conference win over Kaneland on Tuesday night.
The visiting Knights started the fourth quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play from Matt Limbrunner to pull to within 43-40, but Callaghan answered with a top-of-the-key trey, then stole the ball and drove for layup. After a Matt Pretet bucket, Callaghan drained two more bombs, giving him 11 of his team-best 13 points.
“Our defensive intensity wasn’t what we wanted in the first half, so we turned that up, got some stops, and when I was open, my teammates got it to me in rhythm,” Callaghan said. “It felt great, but being more important, it was our last home game and we wanted to send the seniors off with a win.”
The win boosted the North Stars’ ledger to 15-8 and served as a momentum boost as North takes a 7-4 record into its Upstate Eight Conference River Division finale at Geneva.
“I thought Kaneland outhustled us for the majority of the game, but Jack stepped up and we picked up our intensity,” North coach Tim Poulin said. “He’s kind of a pass first type of guy, but he hit some big buckets. We thought it was going to be a back-and-forth battle, but I think our depth showed.”
The contest generally was a see-saw affair with North having a five-point lead en route to a 13-11 first-quarter advantage. Kaneland, which slipped to 13-10 with a fourth straight loss, managed a four-point lead before the half ended in a 28-all deadlock.
The Knights trailed by three when a block vs. charge went against Limbrunner under the basket leading to a unique momentum swing. In reacting with dismay to the call, Kaneland coach Brian Johnson leaned back and kicked out a leg only to have his loafer sail onto the court in order to draw a technical.
“I’ve never had that happen before,” Johnson said. “I thought we really played a solid three quarters against a very good team. The (Callaghan) kid caught fire and those threes put the nail in the coffin for us.
“Although the game got away from us at the end of the game, we wanted to start the game faster and we did that. I thought we turned a corner and I’m encouraged.”
The Class 3A Knights return to Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East Division play with a 6-2 league record for a home date against Morris before hoping to win the title with two road games.
Limbrunner finished with a game-high 19 points while Tyler Carlson tallied eight of his 11 in the opening quarter. Cole Carlson added eight for the Knights.
In addition to Callaghan’s tally, the North Stars had 11 from Quinten Payne with Justin Stanko and Goetz contributing eight and seven, respectively.