Huntley's FVC supremacy continues; Raethz gets No. 300
The long bus ride back to Huntley promised to be sweet.
And not just because Ali Andrews and her girls basketball teammates packed cupcakes.
"Hopefully there's enough," Andrews joked.
Hoping to celebrate coach Steve Raethz's 300th career win, the Red Raiders satisfied their appetite. The 6-foot-2 Andrews loaded up the stat sheet with 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 3 steals, and Huntley doubled-up host Grayslake Central 47-23 Thursday night.
It marked the third year in a row that the Red Raiders won the Fox Valley Conference first-place crossover game. Morgan Clausen added 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals, as Huntley hiked its record to 26-3.
"What pleases me most is that we walked away with a win and finished off the regular season on a real positive note," Raethz said after his milestone victory. "I'm really proud of our effort."
Grayslake Central coach Steve Ikenn liked the energy of his Rams too, particularly early.
Quin Garbett's three-point play and Kelly Moroney's 3-pointer had Grayslake Central (14-14) up 6-1. Huntley responded with seven straight points, including a 3 from Paige Renkosik. But the Red Raiders' lead was brief, as Grayslake Central immediately answered with Amanda Larson's 3-pointer, putting the Rams up 9-8 with 1:38 left in the opening quarter.
Raethz then burned his first timeout.
"We just needed to play a little bit better as 'five as one' on the defensive end," Raethz said. "From an offensive standpoint, we weren't executing as well as we needed to. I thought our kids did a nice job coming out of that timeout and doing the things that we asked them to do."
Huntley did more than just tighten up defensively. Following Larson's 3, Grayslake Central went eight minutes and seven seconds before it scored again. By then, Huntley was up 25-9 with 1:31 left in the opening half.
"I think when they got on a little roll, we got nervous and we panicked a little bit," said Lindsay Brust, who led Grayslake Central with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals.
The Red Raiders' 17-0 run included 11 points from Andrews.
"They're a really talented team, and they took us out of the tempo we were trying to play," said Ikenn, whose Rams committed 22 turnovers. "We don't mind playing fast, but when we don't have a fastbreak, we need to slow it back down and run our offense. They got us to the point where we were just rushing too many things."
Huntley was up 28-12 at halftime after limiting Grayslake Central to 3 points on 3 free throws in the second quarter.
"We definitely had to pick up our intensity and play better defense," Andrews said. "Our offense was really slow (early on). Once we got going, everyone got confidence and (the offense) just picked up."
The Illinois-bound Andrews shot 9 of 13 from the floor (3 of 7 from the line), sinking midrange jumpers as well as one from beyond the arc. She had 19 points after three quarters, and the Red Raiders had a 40-18 advantage.
"What I like about her is she gets her points in the offense, she passes the ball well, she's got a nice shot, and she can beat you inside or out," Ikenn said. "She understands the game and plays within herself. I don't see her trying to do too much."
At 5-7, Brust had the unenviable task of guarding the much-taller Andrews. It was the first time the Rams junior forward had played against the Division-I talent.
"I was nervous playing her, but then I was like, 'You know what? It's good competition,' " Brust said. "She's really strong. Her height was intimidating. I'm not going to lie."