Huntley faced a tall order, playing for a regional title against the top seed on its home floor.
No problem. The undaunted third-seeded Red Raiders raced out to a 14-2 lead and coasted past Belvidere North, 60-41, to win the Class 4A Belvidere North girls basketball regional championship Thursday night.
Huntley (23-6) will play Harlem, a 45-42 winner over Hononegah, in Tuesday's Rockford East sectional semifinal. The regional title is the second in the last 3 years for Huntley and sixth in program history.
Sam Andrews led four Red Raiders in double figures with 21 points. Ali Andrews added 14 points and 10 rebounds, Haley Ream had 12 points and 11 boards, and Bethany Zornow chipped in 11 points for Huntley.
"We knew it was going to be tough playing Belvidere North on their home floor, and our kids really stepped up to the challenge of it," said Huntley coach Steve Raethz. "They played so well on both ends of the floor. I thought we did a great job of stopping their gap penetration and really limited their takes inside."
From the time Ream scored 5 straight points to make it 14-2, Belvidere North never really threatened. Every time the Thunder (23-7) made a mini-run, Huntley had an answer.
After Haley Grana scored to make it 28-20 just before halftime, Huntley outscored the hosts 16-8 to lead 44-26 with 2:31 left in the third. The Thunder never got within 10 points in the final period.
"We had to keep coming and pushing and help each other when we were down," said Sam Andrews. "It was a team effort, which was our goal for the game."
Led by Ream and Ali Andrews, Huntley dominated the backboards with a 30-17 advantage. The Raiders scored their first 7 points of the game off offensive rebounds.
Defensively, the Raiders held Belvidere North to 31 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers. Belvidere North turned it over 9 times in the first half as the Raiders built their big lead.
The Raiders were again solid at the free throw line, making 10 of 12. Sam Andrews made 6 of 7 foul shots and Zornow went 4-for-4 from the line.
Grana finished with 12 points to lead Belvidere North and Anna Martensen added 11 but the Thunder never established anything offensively