Basketball players don't have to make clean steals to play effective defense.
Deflections and tipped passes sometimes do the trick just fine.
For instance, the Cary-Grove boys basketball team's active hands led to 30-plus deflections, which translated to 18 Huntley turnovers in a 44-41 Fox Valley Conference road win Saturday afternoon.
First-year Cary-Grove coach Adam McCloud employed a mix of 1-3-1 and 1-2-2 zones along with man-to-man to keep Huntley (4-9, 2-3) from gaining traction offensively.
Cary-Grove (8-6, 3-2) trailed 15-12 after a quarter but the Trojans capitalized on Huntley's 6 second-quarter turnovers to win the period 11-5 and take a 23-20 halftime lead. Another 6 third-quarter turnovers helped C-G extend its lead to 36-31.
"We got after them in the zone a little bit and I think that was what really set the tone for us the whole game," McCloud said.
The Red Raiders took only 37 shots and made 13 (35 percent).
"They played more zone than man," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "At some point you can't out-scheme them. At some point we have to make plays. And I bet they probably had 30 to 40 deflections. They were real active."
Huntley might have been out of rhythm, but it wasn't out of chances until the final buzzer sounded. After Cary-Grove grabbed a 42-37 lead with 1:45 to play on a short baseline shot from leading scorer Zach Beaugureau (13 points), the Red Raiders made it tighter.
Huntley pulled within 3 points when the officials called Devin Borring's missed shot good with 1:20 remaining due to basket interference.
Brett Bigden drew Huntley within a point of the lead 14 seconds later. The 6-foot-3 junior stole a perimeter pass and raced for a breakaway layup.
However, the Trojans were able to the milk the clock until Luc Bressett was fouled with 8.2 seconds left. Bressett delivered 2 critical free throws to make it a 3-point game. The junior guard was making his second career start at two-guard in place of regular starter Danny Clarke, who strained a muscle in practice Friday and did not play.
"We practice free throws a ton, especially after conditioning drills to prepare us for late-game situations," Bressett said. "We were well prepared."
Huntley had a final chance to tie but a contested 3-pointer from the top of the arc wouldn't fall at the buzzer.
"We did a nice job of fighting back and giving ourselves a chance, but it's unfortunate to lose a conference home game, especially when I feel like we were ready," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "Our goal was to hold them to 40. If we'd done that, we would have won but we didn't. We wanted to have 12 turnovers or less and we had 18. When you don't get shots and you don't shoot it well, it kind of adds up."
Mat Seng finished with a game-best 17 points and junior Zack Loveisky added 8 points and 5 rebounds for Huntley.
Senior forward Matt McCumber finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds for Cary-Grove, which won its third straight. The Trojans visit undefeated Jacobs Wednesday.
"We have 8 wins now and we only had 6 wins all of last year so we're definitely in a better place," Beaugureau said.