The Rockford Auburn boys basketball team has put together another championship season with pressure defense and a deft 3-point shooting touch.
Both were on display Tuesday night, much to Huntley's displeasure.
The Knights pressured Huntley into 22 turnovers and hit 11 of 23 from 3-point range in beating the Red Raiders 61-49 in the semifinals of the Class 4A Elgin sectional at Chesbrough Field House.
Auburn (27-5) will take on the winner of Wednesday's game between South Elgin and Jacobs at 7 p.m. Friday for the sectional championship.
It's the third straight time Huntley has been eliminated from the postseason by Auburn, including in 2011 and 2012.
"It's tough to guard four guys who can shoot 3s," said Huntley coach Marty Manning, whose team was in a sectional for the fifth time in his eight seasons. "We knew we'd have our hands full on the defensive end. Turnovers -- 22 is too many and 15 in the first half really hurt us."
Senior Zavious Hoover hit 4 3-pointers to join junior Laytwan Porter in leading Auburn with 12 points each. Junior Nylek Cobb and senior Malik Minor had 10 points each.
Senior Amanze Egezeke scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds to close out his brilliant Huntley career. Senior Riley Wicks added 13 points for the Red Raiders (21-8) and freshman Jack Bessey had 8.
But Egezeke was limited to 4 points on 3 shots in the first half as the Knights established a 25-18 lead at halftime. Huntley took only 15 shots in the first half, making 6.
"I'm happy with our defense tonight," said Auburn coach Bryan Ott. "The big kid (Egezeke) is a really good player. He's quite a talent. But we had enough bodies to throw in front of him."
After Huntley senior Kyle Slonka hit a 3-pointer just 40 seconds into the game, Auburn went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good. The Knights, who made 250 3-pointers on the season coming into the game, held Huntley at arm's length despite not converting many of the Raiders' turnovers into points.
"We get a lot of our offense out of our defense, just not as much as we'd have liked tonight," Ott said.
But the turnovers also limited Huntley's shots. The Raiders were 18-for-35 for the game but could never get good outside looks, going just 2 of 8 from 3-point range.
"We didn't make the plays we needed to make," said Manning. "You're not going to not turn the ball over against them, they're too good, and it's hard to come from behind against a team with four really good guards. We missed too many layups and free throws."
After Porter hit a 3 to open the third quarter and give Auburn a 10-point lead, Huntley used a basket from Blake Jacobs and a three-point play from Egezeke to climb within 5, 28-23. But Hoover hit a 3 and Minor converted a three-point play to push the lead back to 34-23. Egezeke made two baskets and Zach Gorney a free throw to make it a 34-28 deficit for the Raiders with 1:48 left in the third quarter, but Auburn finished the period on a 5-2 run and Huntley never got closer than 7 in the fourth quarter.
"If we could have kept the game tight into the fourth quarter it could have been a different game," Manning said. "But I'm really proud of our guys. When you get to the sectional you know it's going to be hard."
The Knights' biggest lead was 17, 57-40, after a 3 from Minor with 2:27 to play. Auburn finished the night 21 of 40 shooting but Huntley did hold a huge 32-15 rebounding advantage. Auburn, though, turned the ball over just 10 times.
"Turnovers killed us," said Egezeke, who will matriculate to Belmont University in the fall. "We just gave them too many possessions. They make you play at a certain pace. They're a good team. Handling that pressure is something we need to get better at as a program."