After scratching the surface with just 3 first-quarter points on 1 of 11 shooting, the Cary-Grove girls basketball team could have hit the offensive panic button early in a vital conference game on the road with first place on the line against Huntley.
But the Trojans weren't phased by their offensive struggles in the early going and used their defense to create offense in a 42-33 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win over the Red Raiders Saturday night in Huntley. The Cary-Grove win creates a three-way tie atop the Valley with the Trojans, Huntley and Crystal Lake South each sporting just one conference loss. Cary-Grove is the three-time defending Valley champion.
The Trojans' defensive awareness and half court trap in the second quarter put together a 13-5 run which helped erase one deficit, and in the process fuel the momentum that sparked a 9-2 third quarter where Huntley (14-4, 5-1) was held without a basket until there was 1:17 left.
"We knew this was going to be the game of our conference and we really wanted to show up and we knew what we had to do to beat them but we knew they were a really good team and I'm really proud of our team and how we showed up and played," Trojans forward Olivia Jakubicek said. "Defense is really our first offense, so we knew we had to stop them on offense because they have some really good players and it ended up working out for us."
Jakubicek led all scorers with 21 points. She also had 8 rebounds, while Samantha Andrews was the only Huntley player to score in double figures with 16 points and 5 rebounds. Huntley shot 10 of 44 overall, 1 for 14 in the third quarter alone. Huntley won the rebound edge 24-22, but the Trojans won the board battle 13-7 in the second half, which was also a major key as Jakubicek had 3 offensive rebounds.
"At halftime they were killing us on the boards," Cary-Grove coach Rod Saffert said. "We told them you have to outrebound them in the second half and we did obviously."
Jakubicek rebounded her miss for a 20-17 lead with 4:40 remaining in the third and after a 3-minute drought for both teams, Katie Barker nailed a runner with 1:17 left for a 5-point lead. If it wasn't for a soft pass that Ali Andrews read perfectly and returned down the court for a layup, the Red Raiders would have been held scoreless in the third.
Even with Andrews' bucket cutting the lead to 3, Jakubicek converted another 3-point play just before the end of the quarter and the Trojans (12-6, 5-1) held a 6-point lead going to the fourth. The lead would expand to 11 as Huntley turned the ball over 6 times (19 overall) while Jakubicek made a living at the line (7 for 8 in the fourth, 11 of 12 overall).
Huntley's field goal shooting was the opposite. The Raiders were 5 of 22 in the first half and put up the exact same numbers in the second half.
"From an offensive standpoint we struggled to score in the third quarter, and had a few costly turnovers and they were able to capitalize on those and they got out to a little cushion on us," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "You have to give Cary-grove credit. They did an excellent job defensively on us in the second half and made some keys plays on the offensive end that got them the lead back. "