Huntley can't slow unbeaten Sycamore
Huntley's Anna Campanelli found Ashlyn Horton in the corner and Horton knocked down her 3-point shot as the Red Raiders tried to rally all the way back from a 17-point first-quarter deficit against undefeated Sycamore on Monday.
Horton's 3 with seven seconds left in the third got Huntley to within five points of the Spartans, but any momentum the Raiders had was short lived.
Sycamore's Ella Shipley started the fourth with a score and, on the next possession, Faith Feuerbach sank a 3 to whip the Spartans' bench into a frenzy. Sycamore held Huntley to only two points in the quarter and pulled away for a 53-38 nonconference win, keeping its perfect season intact with its 21st win to start the season.
Huntley (12-6) outscored the Spartans, 19-8, in the third quarter but could not carry it over to the fourth.
"We're getting to a juncture of the season when you're playing games like this and tight conference games and we can't afford to not play 32 minutes," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "I think we've proven that we're a very good basketball team but we need to compete and play that hard for a full game, especially against a great team like [Sycamore].
"I think we exerted a lot of energy in the third quarter and didn't have a lot left in the fourth. We have to find a way, and we have to get better."
Sycamore (21-1) jumped out to a 21-4 lead against Huntley with 2:10 left in the first, making eight of its first 11 shots. Feuerbach had eight points in the first while Shipley and Lexi Carlsen both chipped in five.
The Spartans shot 44% (11 of 25) in the first two quarters and ended the half on a 12-2 run for a 33-17 lead at the break.
Sycamore coach Adam Wickness fully expected the Raiders to come out after the half with more fight.
"We've seen really good teams this season and that team had zero quit in it," Wickness said. "We talked at halftime that Huntley is going to come out and give you everything it can in the third quarter and we've got to be able to withstand that run.
"We got a little stagnant and part of that I think was that Huntley's defensive pressure picked up. I thought they played us really well defensively in the third quarter. The No. 1 key for us going into this game was handle their pressure. We knew they were going to be physical and we knew it was going to be a battle."
Wickness thought the Spartans did a good job of using the Raiders' aggressiveness against them in the first and fourth quarters while taking advantage of backdoor cuts and curls.
Sycamore outscored Huntley, 12-2, in the last eight minutes as the Raiders made only one of their final 10 shots.
"They're a good fundamental team and sound on the ball defensively," Shipley said. "We knew we had to come out and value every possession. We started with stops and that's how we built our lead offensively."
Shipley said the Spartans were excited to play a fellow conference leader in Huntley.
"We love it. We love playing this type of competition," she said. "They have amazing players all-around, starting and coming in off the bench. It's fun to kind of have that aggression where we're kind of going back and forth. I think we did a good job today and rose to the occasion. This was an awesome test for us."
Shipley was one of three scorers in double digits for Sycamore with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Feuerbach was right behind with 17 points. Lexi Carlsen added 12 points and two 3s.
Jessie Ozzauto led the Raiders with 11 points. Morgan McCaughn tallied eight points and three steals, Sammi Campanelli had eight points (all in the third), and Jori Heard had six points and eight rebounds.
McCaughn scored the first four points of the third on two buckets and a steal. Despite the loss, she felt the Raiders could take away a few positives.
"It was a great feeling to come back and I wish we would have been able to keep it going a little longer," McCaughn said of the Raiders' third-quarter push. "We know we can hold our own and the best will come."