Huntley clamps down defensively, denies Hampshire

Huntley clamps down defensively, denies Hampshire

 
 

Huntley knew it had its hands full Wednesday hosting a Hampshire team that scored 75 and 81 points in a pair of wins last weekend.

The Red Raiders showed they were up for the challenge, crashing the glass early, hustling to loose balls all night and slowing down the Whip-Purs' high-powered attack for a 67-53 victory.

Junior Uchenna Egekeze, back after missing a game over Christmas with a knee injury, led four Huntley players in double figures with 17 points.

"We just stayed focused on defense," Egekeze said. "We knew they could score at a high rate. We just wanted to close out hard. We knew they had been playing good lately."

Ryan Sroka, another junior, scored 16 points. Both Egekeze and Sroka finished with double-doubles grabbing 13 and 10 rebounds, respectively, as Huntley dominated the glass, 43-29.

"Coach tells me to crash the boards as much as possible," Egekeze said.

Rebounding was just one of the stats Huntley won. The Red Raiders shot 49.1 percent from the field to Hampshire's 38.5, made 75 percent at the line to the Whip-Purs' 58.8, and committed fewer turnovers, 10 to 15 -- and just 4 until late in the fourth quarter when the Red Raiders had the game in hand.

Huntley led 18-11 after one quarter, 41-24 at halftime and by as much as 49-28 midway through the third quarter.

"I thought our guys gave great effort tonight," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "It was a big challenge. The last couple days we got back to our fundamentals defensively and the kids did a really good job. We scrambled well, we contested well, and we didn't give them a lot of second chance opportunities."

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The win moves Huntley (10-5, 5-2) into a tie in the Fox Valley Conference standings with Hampshire (10-6, 5-2) in a tight race with Crystal Lake Central (5-1) and Dundee-Crown (5-2).

"It's jumbled for sure," Benson said. "I think we all knew it would be jumbled but I don't know if any of us thought it would be this jumbled at this point. This is the time of year we have to start stepping up on both ends of the floor to beat some of these good teams we are playing."

Seniors Davis Pasco and Patrick Roppolo added 12 and 10 points, provided good ball movement and contributed to the stellar defensive effort with 3 steals each.

Hampshire played short-handed without senior guard Kyle Johnson who suffered a head-to-head injury in the second half Saturday against Kaneland.

"It instantly swelled up the size of a softball coming out of his eyebrow," Hampshire coach Ben Whitehouse said. "He was just able to open his eye the other day."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Johnson averages 8 points a game, shoots 50 percent from 3-point range and provides intangibles the Whip-Purs missed Wednesday.

"For us that's our heart and soul," Whitehouse said. "You can't quantify what he does defensively. And he's one of our best rebounders. He means more than just the stats for sure."

Collin Woods led Hampshire with 23 points. Jackson Milison took Johnson's place in the starting lineup and had 9 points and a team-best 8 rebounds.

Huntley scored its first two baskets on putbacks from Pasco and Egekeze, then capped the first half with another second chance score from Pasco.

"It happened when we came here last year too," Whitehouse said. "They are very physical and you have to get out there and play them."

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