There probably were many Yorkville fans scratching their heads after the Foxes' game against Kaneland on Tuesday in Plano’s 54th annual Christmas Classic.
The Foxes blanked the Knights in the first quarter, outrebounded them 29-11 overall and held them to 35 percent shooting, but somehow came up short of a victory, falling on a last second layup, 39-37.
Coincidentally, the Knight also edged the Foxes, 35-32 on Dec. 2, as their two games this season have gone down to the wire. They’ll also meet again on Jan. 27.
“We took some really poor shots in the third and fourth quarter,” Yorkville coach Mike Dunn said. “Their pressure gave us fits. Give them credit though. They made plays and we didn’t, but I tell you, for three quarters we were as good as we’ve been defensively all season.”
Yorkville seemingly was in command late in the third quarter, taking a 32-15 lead with 2:01 left after Jake Eberhart’s three-pointer. The Knights closed the quarter with a pair of baskets to cut their deficit, but they still trailed by 12 points heading into the final quarter.
They wouldn’t go away though and their defensive pressure caused all sorts of problems for Yorkville. They forced 18 turnovers overall, including a handful in the fourth quarter that proved to be huge.
“We scrambled and scrapped more and caused some problems for them,” Kaneland coach Joe Conroy said. “They made some errors and I just thought our defensive intensity changed from the first to the second half and made a big difference.”
Jake Hed’s layup off a turnover came with 3:14 left and cut Yorkville’s lead to 34-30. Kyle Stuart’s three-pointer from the corner with 1:42 remaining made it a 34-33.
A technical on a Kaneland player helped the Foxes increase their lead to 35-33 with 1:30 left, but it wouldn’t be enough as Kaneland’s Daniel Franck answered.He was fouled on his successful layup and then sank the ensuing free throw to give the Knights their first lead of the game at 36-35 with only 45.8 seconds remaining.
Franck (12 points) would later split two free throws to make it 37-35, but the Foxes responded with a putback from Jonathan Suarez to tie it up with 7 seconds remaining.
While the game appeared destined for overtime, Franck had other ideas, taking a crisp pass from Rhett Espe and laying it in as the buzzer sounded.
“That play wasn’t even designed for me, but Rhett drove the floor and there was a big opening,” Franck said. “I truthfully thought that big kid (Jason Lewan) was going to swat me, but it got over the rim and was exciting.”
While Dunn was disappointed to see the game end they way it did, he was pleased with how his Foxes had rallied to tie it, especially after giving up a 17-point lead in 10 minutes.
“We did not execute on the last play of the game and they made a play when they had to,” he said. “I loved though how in our last possession we missed a three, but our smallest kid on the floor got it and tied the game. We could’ve given up, but didn’t so I give our kids a lot of credit.”
Logan Habada led the Foxes with 10 points. Eberhardt added seven points and six rebounds. The Foxes only allowed 20 points through three quarters but surrendered 19 in the fourth quarter while only scoring five.
Tournament play continues through Friday with the Foxes moving into the consolation bracket against John Hope on Dec. 28. Results were unavailable at press time.