Huntley wasn't getting a well-deserved breather when boys basketball coach Marty Manning called timeout with 2:10 left in the third quarter of Saturday afternoon's Crystal Lake Central Coaches vs. Cancer Thanksgiving Tournament game with Hoffman Estates.
The Red Raiders had been taking one on defense as they were getting sliced up by Manning's alma mater for 46 points on 57 percent shooting from the field. Three consecutive layups made Manning decide it was time to stop and talk about what needed to happen the rest of the way.
What happened was Huntley gave up only 2 more points and became the only team in the eight-team tournament to finish 3-0 with a 60-48 victory.
"We prioritize defense and do a lot of drills in practice," said Huntley senior Bryce Only, who had 20 points on 10-for-14 shooting and 12 rebounds. "When everything else fails we have our defense to rely on. When we play defense as a team we're as good as anybody in the area."
It showed down the stretch as Hoffman (1-2) missed 15 of its final 16 shots to finish at 38.6 percent from the field (17-for-44). Ironically, Manning called time right after Only's drive started a decisive 14-point to let his four-year varsity player know it was time to set the tone at the other end.
"We were losing our man and weren't finishing possessions with defensive rebounds," Only said.
"Bryce is a great leader but sometime vocal leadership needs to be backed up by what you do on the court," Manning said. "He (took responsibility for some of the layups) and looked me in the eye and said, 'my bad.' It didn't happen the rest of the game."
Hoffman overcame 15 turnovers in the first 18 minutes and made an impressive comeback from a 34-30 halftime deficit with Bill Wandro, in his second year as a Huntley assistant, on the opposite side of the school he coached for 20 years for the first time before retiring. Six-foot-5 senior Joe Biko scored 17 of his 19 points, Olu Adelaja hit three 3-pointers and Jimmy Ward provided a first-half spark off the bench with 7 points.
Connor Schwarz sandwiched drives around his fifth assist to Neal Kolweier for a layup and Hoffman had a 46-40 lead on 16-for-28 shooting.
"Against that team, our effort was pretty darn good," said second-year Hoffman coach Luke Yanule of one of the Fox Valley Conference's top teams. "I was concerned based on (Friday's 58-48 loss to Crystal Lake Central) performance how we would come out, but this says a lot about who we are in terms of character and effort."
But Hoffman missed 9 straight shots as Only scored 6 points and Jake Wagner (14 points) capped the 14-point run with a layup off T.J. Adams' feed. Biko got a layup off Iziah Robinson's feed at 2:53 to cut the deficit to 54-48 but Huntley's Zach Gorney (9 points) answered with a short turnaround 24 seconds later.
Biko had a breakout tournament for Hoffman by averaging 16.3 points a game.
"If we get that out of Joe it's a nice option to have," Yanule said. "It's going to open up a lot of stuff for us. And our defense was pretty darn good against one of the top teams in the area."
Manning and Only thought the Red Raiders made strides toward retaining that status in the tourney.
"Each game we got a little bit better and that's what you want in a tournament," Manning said.
"We're trying to get better every day," Only said. "We're happy to be 3-0 but we're not satisfied with the way we played. We know we have a lot of work to do."