JOHNSBURG – From 6-foot-5, 300-pound fan favorite Zach Kinney’s B.J. Raji-like dance moves in the pregame introductions to a dominant second quarter and beyond, it was a thoroughly enjoyable senior night for Johnsburg.
And another frustrating experience for Crystal Lake South.
Johnsburg outscored the Gators by 17 points in the second quarter and cruised to a 56-43 victory in the Fox Valley Conference crossover boys basketball game between the fifth-place teams in the Fox and Valley divisions.
“Our senior class tries to do a great job with leadership and the younger kids push us and spark us when we need it,” said Skyhawks senior guard Collin Ridout, who led his team with 16 points and seven rebounds. “Tonight we needed it in the second quarter and we came out on top big.”
South’s Caleb Johnson hit three 3-pointers early to help the Gators (15-12) to a 13-5 lead, which Johnsburg (8-19) cut to 15-11 by the end of the first quarter. The Skyhawks rolled to a 19-2 second-quarter advantage and were not threatened the rest of the game.
“We knew they were going to come out with a bang,” said Johnsburg senior guard Alec Graef, who scored 12 points. “We had to work together and fight our hardest. It means a lot to end our senior season [at home] like this.”
South could not get closer than nine points in the second half.
“We started to run in the second quarter,” Skyhawks coach Mike Toussaint said. “We’re better when we get out and run.”
Johnson led all players with 17 points and Collin Wagner added nine for South.
“Turnovers,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “We gave Johnsburg a lot of life there in the second quarter. They got some run-outs, got some easy baskets. Sometimes I don’t get us right now. Today, it was 26 turnovers. You’re going to lose with 26 turnovers.”
Johnsburg pushed the lead as high as 19 and was able to enjoy the seniors’ final home game. The student section chanted for Kinney, an offensive lineman in football whom teammates call “Chief,” to come back in the game late and hit a pair of free throws.
“It was definitely nice to have that fan support and have everybody behind you,” Kinney said.
Toussaint gave Kinney a rare start because it was senior night, and the big man delighted Johnsburg’s crowd in the starting lineup introductions. First, Kinney chest-bumped reserve Bailey Stefka at midcourt, then he wiggled his hips like Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Raji did after scoring a touchdown against the Bears in 2010.
“I’m not a Packers fan,” Kinney said. “He’s a big guy and I’m a big guy, so I did that same little dance.” Toussaint described Kinney as a really smart, lovable and fun person.
“I had no idea he was going to do that,” Toussaint said. “It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. It was awesome.”