ROCKFORD — Belvidere North had the 3-point shooters, but had no answer for Ali Andrews inside.
Ali Andrews scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Huntley to its sixth regional title in 8 years, defeating Belvidere North 49-35 Thursday night in the championship game of the Class 4A Rockford Jefferson regional.
Sam Andrews added 11 points and 6 rebounds for Huntley (26-3).
The Red Raiders will play South Elgin (20-9) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Crystal Lake South sectional. South Elgin beat Streamwood 67-35 Thursday for the Jacobs regional title. Huntley defeated South Elgin 52-46 at Huntley on Nov. 20.
Huntley struggled offensively before breaking the game open in the second half Thursday. An 11-2 run that started just before halftime put the Raiders up 33-21. Belvidere North scored 8 quick points in the fourth to get within 41-34, but Huntley responded with an 8-0 run of its own to put the game away.
Huntley couldn’t stop Belvidere North’s Haley Grana. The diminutive point guard scored 17 points, including 5 3-pointers, accounting for nearly half of the Blue Thunder’s points.
“We knew that (Grana) was the engine that makes them go,” said Huntley coach Steve Raethz. “She really gave us fits, especially in the first half. She had 11 of their first 19. We talked going into this game about containing her, having an awareness of where she was, but she got loose on us a few times for open 3s.
“In the second half, we tightened things up a little bit defensively. Offensively, I thought we settled down and got into a better flow.”
It helped that Huntley dominated the backboards, with a 29-14 rebounding advantage. Ali Andrews equaled the Thunder’s rebound total by herself.
Although she had 15 points by halftime, nothing came easy.
“They were really attacking down low,” she said. “I had to bring my game and grind it out down low, just play like I play.”
Bethany Zornow had 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists for Huntley, while also shadowing Belvidere North’s other big scorer, Keri Dodson. Dodson finished with 12 points, and the rest of the Thunder roster accounted for just 6.
After a breakaway layup by Taylor Martocci got North within 7 in the late going, Huntley pulled away again, mostly at the free-throw line. Ali Andrews and Kaitlin Costantino combined to make 5 straight free throws before Costantino finally missed, but by then the Raiders had restored their double-digit lead with time running out.
Huntley held a big advantage from the line, going 13-for-20 while Belvidere North made just 3 of 11. The Thunder shot better from 3-point range than from the free-throw line.