Varsity boys basketball defeats Elgin on memorable Senior Night

Sophomore center Freddy Hassan blocks the shot of an Elgin player as he tries to score in the lane. Hassan had a team-leading four blocks in the Knights victory over the Maroons.

Photo By Benjamin Falk

Sophomore center Freddy Hassan blocks the shot of an Elgin player as he tries to score in the lane. Hassan had a team-leading four blocks in the Knights victory over the Maroons.

     On Friday, Jan. 20, the Kaneland varsity boys basketball team celebrated their Senior Night with a victory over the visiting Elgin Maroons. From the opening tip, sophomore Freddy Hassan set the tone for the game as the Knights went on to a 73-44 win. Kaneland is now 20-4 overall, and their 10-0 conference record has them in first place in the Interstate 8 Conference. 

     “We played pretty well. It was nice to see everybody get in during Senior Night and contribute,” head coach Ernie Colombe said after the game.

     Colombe is currently in his fourth season as boys head coach after serving as the girls head coach for 13 years, and this year’s record is the best he has seen during his time with the boys program.

     This game was bittersweet for the Knights’ six seniors as they played in one of the final home games of their high school careers. 

     “This game meant a lot to me. To be out there with the guys for one of the last times was special,” senior forward Jake Brost said.

     While there is naturally some sadness when it comes to Senior Night and the realization that the end of high school is approaching, many look forward to seeing the future of the team because of the impact they know they have left on the program. With the seniors’ collective years of experience, they have some advice for their underclassmen teammates. 

The six senior players stand with their parents in a pre-game ceremony honoring their commitment to the team and program. Each senior scored at least one basket during the Knights victory over Elgin. (Photo By Benjamin Falk)

     “Just keep working. We have a lot of younger guys on the team who are working hard every day to get better. They just need to keep it up,” senior guard and captain Johnny Spallasso said. 

     The seniors have instilled many values in the team not only through their words but also through their actions.

     “[The seniors] set the tone every day in practice and in games. Just learning from the older kids and getting better with them [has impacted me this season],” junior shooting guard Troyer Carlson said.  

     Carlson has already contributed a great deal to the program as he nears 1,000 career points, and he knows the future of Kaneland basketball is filled with promise because of the culture the seniors have instilled. Against the Maroons, he led the Knights in scoring with 21 points. It is younger athletes like Carlson who can add unique value to the team to support the four years of work that the seniors have put in. 

Senior guard Johnny Spallasso scores in transition for two of his 16 points during the Knights win over Elgin. Spallasso is a three-sport athlete who will be playing football in college next year. (Photo By Benjamin Falk)

     Kaneland also took some risks by bringing three underclassmen up to the varsity level at the beginning of the season. One athlete who immediately sticks out due to his 6’6 stature is Hassan, who finished the night with six points, six rebounds and four blocks. While he is only in his second year of playing organized basketball, he demonstrated his commitment to the sport and his team throughout summer camps and tournaments and then during fall workouts, and that work paid off as he has become the team’s starting center. 

     “It’s a blessing. The coaches thought I was good enough to be brought up. They saw me play last year and told me I had potential,” Hassan said. “There is still so much to improve on.”

     With attitudes like this, the future of Kaneland basketball is seemingly in good hands. The underclassmen are determined to uphold the legacy the seniors are leaving behind, and Friday’s game against Elgin was a reminder of what the seniors have done for the program and why there are reasons for optimism in the years ahead.