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A foundation for the future of the Huntley girls basketball program has been cemented the past two seasons.
Sam and Ali Andrews drove the truck, and poured the concrete.
Sam, a senior, and Ali, a sophomore, are sisters who are alike as they are different. They each possess superior basketball skills and they appeared to have a telepathic connection on the court. Yet, they are players with different styles and sisters with different personalities.
This season, they meshed all their qualities together, with their focus on team being at the forefront of everything they did, to lead the Red Raiders to yet another stellar season. After reaching Illinois' girls basketball mecca -- Redbird Arena -- last season, this season ended short of that goal, but still concluded with a 27-4 record, the program's first Fox Valley Conference championship, and a trip to the sectional finals.
And for their efforts, the Andrews sisters have been selected as the honorary co-captains of the 2013-14 Daily Herald Fox Valley all-area team.
"They've had a tremendous impact on the success of our program," said 16th-year Huntley coach Steve Raethz, whose team went 53-12 the past two seasons.
"They have a great rapport with each other and they are intense competitors. They're all about the success of team and they don't like to lose. It's been a real pleasure to coach them."
The numbers the Andrews sisters put up this season speak for themselves. Sam, a 6-footer headed to Truman State, averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, made 46 3-pointers and led the area with her 84 percent free throw shooting.
Ali, at 6-2 and more of an inside threat, averaged 18.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.5 blocks and bounced outside to hit 34 3-pointers. She shot 53 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
Sam will graduate as the program's second leading scorer (1,465 career points) behind Sam Mader. She's fourth all-time at Huntley in rebounds and assists, first in free throw percentage and second in career 3-pointers (123).
Thing is, Ali could break many of those records. She goes into her junior season with 1,111 career points.
Sam scored in double figures in 81 of the 94 varsity games she played; Ali did the same in 28 of 31 games this season.
"Sam's ability to produce and contribute so consistently was pretty special," said Raethz. "She was the model of consistency and a tireless worker. I don't think I've coached a player who has improved her game from her freshman to senior year as much as Sam did. She had to extend her range as a shooter. That progressively got better and added to her versatility."
Sam also had to take more of a leadership role this season and became more of a vocal leader as the season went on.
But the greater challenge came in the team sense after being downstate last year and becoming everyone's favorite target this season.
"We knew going in it wasn't going to be easy," Sam said. "Every team was going to give us their best game. We knew nothing would be handed to us and we'd have to work for it. We looked at every game as a challenge but we like challenges.
"If you look at the big picture we met the majority of our goals. We won the conference and went undefeated in conference, we won our crossover game and we won a regional again. There was great fight in us and we had a great run."
"We weren't really satisfied with the (sectional final) loss but we had a good season," Ali added.
As Ali's scoring ability elevated, the sisters saw every kind of defense coaches could cook up to stop one or both of them, something that rarely happened. Ali welcomed the attention.
"I took it as a compliment," she said. "You just have to go out and play how you know to play and play as a team."
The daughters of Chet and Pam Andrews and lifelong Huntley residents, Sam and Ali are 17 months apart in age. While they started playing basketball with the Huntley Park District when each was in the first grade, they didn't play on the same team until Sam was in sixth grade and Ali in fourth, when they started playing AAU basketball, something that furthered their sisterly bond.
"We're pretty close and basketball brings us closer," Ali said.
"It's part of us and something we'll always have together," Sam added.
But next year will be a major change for Sam and Ali, and the Red Raiders' team.
"It's gonna be really sad," Sam said. "We do a lot of stuff together. I won't be able to play again with her and I won't be around to watch games. It's going to be hard, but it's a change in life."
"It's going to be really weird," Ali agreed. "It's going to be sad she's not here. I'm going to have to step it up next year. This year Sam was the leader and I know I have to step it up now and be more vocal."
Raethz knows it will be different as well.
"It's going to be an adjustment for the entire team," he said. "Losing a player of Sam's quality will take an adjustment from everyone. It's been great to watch them play together the past two years and the thing about them is as great a players they are on the floor, they're even better people off the floor."
Before Sam leaves Huntley, though, she knows who to thank for where she's at in her career and life.
"My parents, and Raethz and (assistant coach) Phil (Leiterman)," she said. "Our parents drove us everywhere, signed us up for everything, came to our games and cheered us on and did simple things, like making us dinner when we'd get home. They were always there for us.
"And Raethz and Phil are the favorite coaches I've ever had. They are a big part of our lives and almost like our dads in a way. They are very special to us. I don't think I could ever have coaches as special as they are. They helped me improve as a person on and off the court and they are a huge part of who I am today."
Ali isn't ready to write her high school thank you note yet, but she does have deep gratitude for what her older sister has meant to her.
"She's always been there for me on and off the court," Ali said. "She's a good teammate and a good sister. We get along at home and basketball brought us closer together. Overall, I just thank her for being there for me in school and basketball every day."
The Huntley girls basketball community thanks the Andrews sisters, as well, for two great seasons.