Going into Thursday night's matchup against the reigning Class 4A state champion, Huntley's girls basketball team knew that it would have a fight on its hands and the shots would have to fall in its favor.
Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, they only made 9 baskets for 28 points, falling to Marian Catholic 50-28 in the quarterfinals of the 5th Annual Montini Christmas Tournament.
The Red Raiders (12-2) failed to break 30 points for the first time this season, in just their second loss of the year, thanks in large part to poor shot selection and rushed possessions. They shot just 27 percent from the field and only had four players score on the night.
"I think we took a lot of quick shots early in possessions and I don't think we bought in to running our offense the way that we needed to do it against a team that's this good," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "They're an elite team and we need to do a better job of being patient and getting the right shot in the framework of what we're trying to do."
Those quick shots put Huntley in a big hole early, as it only had 3 points after the first quarter and only 5 going into half, trailing by 15.
Sophomore Ali Andrews had the only points for the Red Raiders before the break, but even those were hard-fought. She scored the first point of the game and finished with a game-high 15. Huntley looked to be in control early, taking almost a minute off the clock before the Spartans touched the ball.
"I think we had a great first possession of the game," Raethz said. "Ali got fouled and we got some points to start the game off, and then we just completely abandoned it."
But Marian Catholic (11-2), on the strength of Teniya Page, Ashton Millender and a tenacious defense that caused 12 turnovers in the first half alone, took over on its first possession and never looked back, scoring 24 points by the time halftime rolled around.
Huntley's offense picked up in the second half, with both Ali Andrews and her sister Sam Andrews, who finished with 9 points, hitting 2 3-pointers apiece, but it proved to be too little too late as the Red Raiders went into the fourth quarter down by 23.
With another tough opponent looming Friday, when Huntley will face off against Fremd, Raethz knows that his team will have to fix the mistakes and be ready to play. Fremd defeated Marian Catholic last weekend.
"You have to be ready to understand what needs to be done for a full 32 minutes," he said. "There were some lapses out there tonight and (Marian) exploited us for it. It doesn't get any easier from here."