Class 4A Crystal Lake South sectional
Tuesday's semifinals: South Elgin (20-9) vs. Huntley (26-3), 6 p.m.; Prairie Ridge (21-9) vs. Rockford Boylan (25-4), 8 p.m.
Outlook: Huntley enters the sectional with the target on its back a little bigger after last year's run to fourth place in Class 4A. But Red Raiders' coach Steve Raethz knows his team will be in for a battle against South Elgin, which has gone 11-3 since Christmas.
"South Elgin is very solid," said Raethz, whose team beat the Storm 52-46 in South Elgin's season opener and Huntley's second game of the campaign.
"They have five kids offensively who can score, they shoot well and they dribble penetrate well. It will be a tough test and a tough challenge for us. We'll have to play solid defense all around. It will be important for us to play great team defense. They have multiple kids who can put it on the floor and drive."
The Storm's stellar second half of the season has been led by seniors Savanah Uveges (10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.6 spg), Kennede Miller (10 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Anna Tracy (7.6 ppg), who came up big with 21 points in South Elgin's 67-35 regional final win over Streamwood that put the Storm in a sectional for the second time in three years. Sophomore Nadia Yang (8.2 ppg) and freshman Mackie Kelleher (6 ppg) have scoring potential as well, and South Elgin has a deep bench led by Delaney Kelleher, Laura McIntosh and Bridgette Williams.
But the No. 1 thing that's on South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast's mind is how to stop Huntley's Andrews sisters, senior Sam and sophomore Ali, something few teams have been able to do this season.
Ali Andrews (19 ppg) has led the Raiders in scoring all season with Sam (17 ppg) close behind. They each pose a threat both inside and outside. Sophomore point guard Kayla Barreto can bury 3-pointers if left unguarded and senior Bethany Zornow is Huntley's defensive stopper. Freshman Abbey Brown has also come on down the stretch for the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division champions, who beat Belvidere North 49-35 to win the Rockford Jefferson regional.
"They're both really dynamic players and very versatile," said Prendergast of the Andrews sisters. "It will come down to us playing loose and using our speed to our advantage and I think our bench will be a key."
Raethz admits having players like the Andrews' is a bonus for any coach.
"Ali and Sam have been so consistent and such a tough duo to stop," he said. "It's a great luxury to have. But we've been stressing to all our players that we need more contributions than just those two. Ali and Sam get double and triple-teamed so much that we need other kids to step up and knock down shots."
Raethz, whose team has lost only to Fremd, Whitney Young and Marian Catholic, also hopes the experience his team gained on its run to state last year makes a difference in the sectional.
"We've been in this situation before," he said. "With the schedule we've played this year we've seen every type of defense out there. We're battle-tested and ready to go Tuesday."
Tuesday's second game pits Prairie Ridge, the FVC Valley runner-up, against a Rockford Boylan team that beat Hononegah 59-47 to win its first regional since 2010, which is also the last time PR won a regional.
"We're just going to go out and have fun," said PR coach Rob Baker after his team beat Cary-Grove 46-42 Friday for the regional title at C-G. "We're in a great sectional with Huntley, South Elgin and Boylan, three great teams. This group has a great attitude and they just want to have fun."
The Wolves are led by seniors Sarah LaBeau and Maddie Drain, who scored 19 points in the win over Cary-Grove.
Advancement: The winner of the CL South sectional advances to the Judson University supersectional on March 3 to play the winner of the Addison Trail sectional.