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Class 4A Dundee-Crown supersectional
Wheaton Warrenville South (29-3) vs. Huntley (25-6)
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
How they got here: Huntley beat DeKalb 50-46 and Belvidere North 60-41 to win the Belvidere North regional then defeated Harlem 46-37 in the sectional semifinals and Streamwood 45-41 in the sectional finals. WW South defeated St. Charles North 62-41 and York 60-46 to win the WWS regional then downed Geneva 62-53 and Wheaton North 53-45 to win the Bartlett sectional.
Outlook: The task is a tall one -- literally -- for Huntley against DuPage Valley Conference champion WW South, a team that lost to Bartlett in the sectional finals last year.
"It's a real challenge," said Huntley coach Steve Raethz, whose team won the program's first sectional title this season. "I don't know if we've faced a team all year that's as big as they are at all five positions. We're excited about the opportunity and we welcome the challenge Our team defense has been really solid and that will be a key on Monday. We'll also have to keep them off the glass and limit their second (chance) opportunities."
The Tigers have persevered through much to get here -- overcoming the loss of two starters to torn ACLs among a rash of injuries, even losing head coach Rob Kroehnke for a stretch. Now they are in somewhat unchartered waters. A win would mean the first state appearance since then-Wheaton Central and Katie Meier took second to Marshall in Class AA in 1985. WW South is 28-1 since a 1-2 start to the season.
"This is a group that wants more," said Kroehnke, who was an assistant on the team that lost to Buffalo Grove in the 1997 supersectional. "It would be a just reward if they could make it downstate."
The Red Raiders are led by Sam Andrews, a 6-foot junior averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 rebounds, and her sister Ali Andrews, a 6-2 freshman averaging 16.1 points and 7.6 rebounds. They account for close to 80 percent of the Red Raiders' scoring. Pressure will be on freshman point guard Kayla Baretto, as it has been all season.
Senior Haley Ream keys the Red Raiders' defense, a Huntley hallmark; the team hasn't allowed north of 46 points in four playoff games and has allowed 50 or more points only three times all season, two of those in overtime games.
"We'll have to have a lot of teamwork," said Ream, a three-year varsity player. "It's going to take good defense. We have to contain their dribble penetration, box out and rebound. They're really tall and they get a lot of second-chance baskets, We just have to be patient and calm."
WW South is no slouch at the defensive end, either, allowing just a tick over 40 points per game.
"The Andrews sisters sound like they're the real deal, and they got some shooters," Kroehnke said. "They seem very similar to us."
WW South comes off an emotional 53-45 sectional final win over Wheaton North, weathering an 18-3 first-quarter hole. Tigers DePaul-bound junior point guard Meghan Waldron, averaging 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists, shot just 4-for-15 in scoring 15 points after going for a combined 55 in the previous two games.
"Meghan Waldron is a great player," Raethz said. "She makes everybody around her better. We'll have to find a way to contain her."
Notre Dame recruit Diamond Thompson stepped up late with 8 of her 12 points in the decisive third quarter Thursday for the Tigers. Defense and the offensive glass was huge, per usual. WW South had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone; on the season the Tigers average nearly 15 offensive boards a game, junior Melinda Franke accounting for over 4 of them.
"This is a group that expects to be there," Kroehnke said. "We have to go out and concentrate on what we do. It's going to come down to defense. We've stressed defense for years. When this team is on the same page defensively we're pretty good."
Huntley isn't taking the "just glad to be here" approach.
"It's very exciting," said Ream, the granddaughter of former Huntley boys basketball coach Ed Ream. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have to work as hard as we've been working.
Advancement: The winner of the Dundee-Crown supersectional plays the winner of the Niles West supersectional game between Rolling Meadows and Evanston in the 6:30 p.m. state semifinal at Redbird Arena on Friday, March 1.