Huntley handles Cary-Grove to stay tied for FVC lead

 
 
Updated 1/28/2022 10:50 PM

Senior forward Jori Heard scored the first six points for Huntley and teammate Jessie Ozzauto followed with a couple of 3-pointers.

The Red Raiders duo was difficult to stop Friday and teamed up for 32 points to lead their team to a 51-34 win against Cary-Grove in their Fox Valley Conference game.

 

The win sets up a first-place showdown between FVC co-leaders Huntley and Burlington Central, a 48-31 winner over Crystal Lake Central, at 3 p.m. Saturday in Huntley.

"We knew this was going to be a tough and competitive game, and I was just really proud of our players for coming out with a lot of intensity on both ends to start," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said.

"I thought Jessie Ozzauto had an awesome night on both ends of the floor. She really controlled the tempo offensively, really got us into a good rhythm on offense and I thought she did a great job on defense tonight."

Ozzauto led everybody with 18 points and three 3s, scoring six points in the first quarter and eight in the second. An offensive charge called against her at the start of the second did not stop the dynamic junior from attacking the basket.

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The Trojans had no answer for Ozzauto.

"We were honestly just struggling to get our switches and to guard No. 15 [Ozzauto]," C-G coach Tony Moretti said. "She just had our number tonight. She did well in the pick-and-roll and we didn't did a good job of rotating. She is really hard to guard. She's a special player. You can see what a great college player looks like, and she's going to be fantastic at the next level."

A 13-0 run by Huntley (14-6, 10-1 FVC) in the first quarter, started by back-to-back 3s from Ozzauto, turned a 5-4 deficit for the Raiders into a 17-5 lead. After the Trojans (14-8, 7-5) cut Huntley's lead to 23-21 in the second quarter, the Raiders rallied back with a 7-0 run over the final 1:40 to take a 30-21 lead entering half.

Ozzauto had two free throws and a 3 during the run, and Ashlyn Horton had a steal and Sammi Campanelli converted a layup on the other end with 25 second left for the final two points before half.

Huntley committed only eight turnovers all game, while C-G had 14.

"From the jump, we were all focused," Ozzauto said of the team's quick start. "We've had some slow starts our past few games, but we were prepared. I think defensively, we stepped up. We've been working on it in practice, just being disciplined. And being smart on the ball on offense really helped us."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Heard had 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Raiders. Morgan McCaughn added eight points, while Campanelli and Horton each had four.

Raethz thought Heard's tough work inside helped set the tone.

"I thought Jori Heard played a great game for us in the interior tonight and she really got us off to a quick start and helped set the tone for us," Raethz said. "We had great spacing and that spacing opened some things up for us, both inside and on the perimeter."

Emily Lukowski led C-G with 16 points and two 3s. Avery Nielsen tossed in 10 points and Emily Larry had five.

"Emily Lukowski always plays hard and keeps us in games. She made a lot of big shots," Moretti said. "Avery Nielsen played almost every minute and was working her butt off, and Emily Larry took two or three charges. She was working hard out there. Those three really stood out."

Huntley and Burlington meet Saturday in their first FVC game of the year and again in Burlington on Feb. 7. The Raiders, who were playing their seventh game in 11 days Friday, were runner-up to the Rockets during last year's COVID-19-shortened season, losing in the FVC Tournament final.

"We're trying to grind it out and just work really hard to keep winning," Heard said. "Obviously [Burlington Central 6-foot-2 senior forward and Princeton commit] Taylor Charles is really good, and they have some other shooters who are really good.

"I think we can win conference and go pretty far in the postseason."

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