Huntley junior Zach Gorney had the jitters jolted right out of him just 28 seconds into his boys basketball varsity debut Monday night at Prairie Ridge.
"That helped me get more in the flow," the 6-foot-4 Gorney said with a smile of drawing a charging foul on Antioch in Crystal Lake Central's sixth annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament.
By the time Gorney drew his second charge with 2:44 to play, he was nearly finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Red Raiders pulled away in the final 7½ minutes to a 55-39 victory in the season opener for both teams.
"He played really well, but that's what I expected because he did great for us all summer," said Huntley coach Marty Manning. "He's one of our hardest workers and that's why he had such a good first game."
Also encouraging for Huntley, with standout Amanze Egekeze sidelined with a knee injury until January, was the play of Gorney and 6-3 junior Dan Janus (10 points, 7 rebounds) as four-year starter Bryce Only (13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists) got a break to start the fourth quarter.
Anthony Formella scored 7 of his team-high 12 points as Antioch cut a 12-point deficit to 37-32 but Janus was fouled as he scored off a miss. Janus missed the free throw but a loose ball scramble led to Gorney scoring as he was intentionally fouled and he hit both free throws.
Blake Jacobs' drive off 1 of Antioch's 20 turnovers and Janus' drive capped a 10-point run that put Huntley up 47-32 with 6:27 to play.
"I felt we really started to click on offense there," Gorney said.
"That's what our season is going to be like with everybody stepping up and making plays," said Only, who forced 5 turnovers. "It's nice that coach Manning can give guys a break. It was good to see the younger guys step up because they're only going to get better and better."
Antioch shot better from the field at 40 percent (12-for-30) but the Red Raiders' 35 percent saw them take nearly twice as many shots (20-for-57) as they had rebound advantages of 35-19 overall and 17-4 offensively.
"A lot of our kids learned how physical this level is and we definitely need to set a tone with that," Antioch coach Jim White said of the rebounding. "One of our season goals was to be better in the third quarter, which was our highlight. We knew we had our hands full (with Huntley) and we'll build off it."
Especially since Formella, the Sequoits' only player with significant varsity experience, played just 4:07 of the first half with 3 fouls. Ryan Weber added 8 points and 5 rebounds and Cody Gwinn scored 7 points.
"I liked how our ball pressure on defense was pretty good," Formella said after hitting a pair of 3-pointers and shooting 5-for-10 from the field. "There is a lot of potential for us, especially defensively with a young team coming in without a lot of experience."