Huntley pulls away from Burlington Central for 25th win
Two years ago, these were games Ryan Sroka and Uchenna Egekeze didn't expect to win.
Perhaps that made the way the fourth quarter played out Friday night that much more fitting for a group of seniors that have managed to change the culture at Huntley.
The Red Raiders scored 29 points in the fourth quarter -- all by seniors -- as they pulled away for a 61-43 win over Burlington Central on Senior Night.
The victory was Huntley's 25th of the year and its 12 in its last 13 games (25-6 overall, 16-2 in the FVC). That's quite the contrast from two years ago when Sroka, Egekeze and a few other of Huntley's 10 seniors experienced a 6-23 season.
"(As sophomores) it was a miracle if we won a game," said Sroka, who finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. "It's the opposite now. That's the kind of culture we have built here. It means so much to me that this group of guys, this senior class, was able to turn it around and the group that puts Huntley back on the map for basketball."
Sroka and Egekeze were the leaders of the resurgent fourth quarter that came after Burlington Central and standout Jake Lenschow (game-high 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals) managed to trim a double-digit deficit down to 34-30 with 7:07 left to play.
The Red Raiders continuously worked the ball inside the rest of the way for layups after struggling from the field in the first three quarters. Every point in a game-breaking 10-1 run came in the paint. It ended in emphatic fashion as Egekeze notched a huge steal and breakaway slam dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and Burlington Central (22-9, 12-6) to its knees at 44-31.
Nineteen of Huntley's 29 points in that period came inside the paint as it was a pinpoint 11-of-14 from the field. Add that to a hefty 36-23 edge on the glass on the night -- Egekeze had 9 rebounds -- and coach Will Benson was quite happy with his team's physical presence.
"They are a really physical team," Benson said of BC. "They are about as physical as any team we have in our league. I thought we did a pretty good job defensively in the first half ... and in the fourth quarter we got back to our roots and defended them a little better. We really rebounded much better in the fourth quarter."
Huntley had two additional players in double figures as Ryan Vrugt had 12 points and Luke DiFrancesca totaled 10 points and 6 rebounds.
Burlington Central had a few opportunities to thwart the Raiders' rally but struggled from the field and the line. The Rockets missed three key free throws in the final five minutes and were just 15-of-49 from the field.
"It was extremely physical, and we missed too many free throws and layups to hang around," said BC coach Brett Porto. "If we hit one or two of those (of the layups we missed) and hit the free throws like we normally do, I think it's a little different game."