Compared to the duel that materialized between Huntley's Amanze Egekeze and Cary-Grove's Jason Gregoire in Cary-Grove's 51-48 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball upset win at Elroy Fitzgerald Gymnasium Thursday night, Tyler Szydlo's 5 points for the Trojans didn't seem to measure up to much.
After all, two of the top 10 scorers in the area -- Egekeze, who poured in a game-high 30 and Gregoire scored a team-high 21 -- put on a show so to speak, but the "ooh and ahh" factor Szydlo displayed with 57 seconds left resonated the biggest cheers of the night for the Trojans (13-9, 6-3).
With the lead changing hands 7 times in the second half, Szydlo finally put a stop to that when he received the ball deep on the left block with Cary-Grove down 1.
Remembering what his coach, Ralph Schuetzle, told him earlier in the fourth about Huntley defenders looking for the blocked shot, Szydlo wisley faced up and threw up a subtle pump fake, which was enough to draw the Huntley defender in the air and give a clear path to the basket for Szydlo to kiss the ball off the glass. The Trojans grabbed the lead for good at 49-48 and after two attempts to get Egekeze the ball in the final 30 seconds -- one denied by Szydlo by clogging the paint and the other when a series of defenders corrupted Egekeze's game-tying attempt on a switch with 13.6 left, Cary-Grove gave Huntley (15-7, 7-0) its first blemish in the FVC Valley and second-straight defeat after winning 10 straight prior to Monday's overtime loss to Fremd.
Cary-Grove, which earned its third-straight win, was 7 of 15 from the perimeter, shot a 56.6 percent clip from the field and had previously drained 2 consecutive 3-pointers prior to Szydlo's post move.
"I turned and faced and I saw I was kind of by myself with him so I gave him a shot fake," said Szydlo."Sure enough he rose up a little bit but I just took it strong to the basket. Every time they punched them we punched right back. You got to try to stay with them and then make a run."
Gregoire, who was 9 for 11 at the line and 5 of 9 shooting, nailed a huge 3 to keep the Trojans in it when Huntley built the lead to 3 with 4 minutes to go.
"This is a huge win for us," Gregoire said. "We're in kind of the home stretch of the season, going into regionals soon, and we got a couple big games coming up and this is really going to catapult our confidence and everything. I think it can it really help us get momentum going into regionals. It's just a huge win for the program to get. To be the team to knock (Huntley) off, that's pretty special."
C-G canned 10 of 13 from the stripe and for the second-straight game free throw shooting burned Huntley, which in its loss to top-ranked Fremd on Monday made just 13 of 21. Against the Trojans, the Red Raiders were only 6 for 15, including a 2 for 6 clip in the fourth and 4 for 13 clip in the second half.
"It hurt us huge," Red Raiders coach Marty Manning said. "It's a reoccurring theme unfortunately. I don't have an explanation. I shot 88 percent in high school (for assistant coach Bill Wandro at Hoffman Estates). To me it's easy."
"That's really the game right there," said Egekeze, who is now 6 points shy of 1,000 for his career. "Even in the last game if we made our free throws we would have won that one."
Huntley outscored Cary-Grove 14-10 to grab a 1-point lead after three quarters. The Trojans built the lead back up to 3 on a pair of shots from Nick Barr, but Egekeze's hot hand managed to thwart the Trojan zone and give Huntley a 44-41 lead with 4 minutes left. Gregoire then buried a 3 in the right wing to knot it at 44 and Devin McDonough's 3 with 2:50 left gave the Trojans a 1-point lead.
Zach Gorney scored 10 points and hauled in 6 rebounds for Huntley, which shot 48.7 percent from the field. Besides Gregoire's 3s, McDonough (6 points) and Mike Krich (6 points) each hit 2 while Michael Coleman (5 points) nailed one and the Trojans' perimeter shooting helped avenge a 58-25 loss at Huntley on Dec. 17.
"Our confidence is up and our offense is different," Schuetlze said. "When you make a man-to-man team go zone you're doing something right."