Boys hoops: Huntley clamps down on Crystal Lake Central
Huntley guard Bryce Walker felt a little something was missing at halftime, even though the Red Raiders held an 11-point advantage on Crystal Lake Central.
So Walker took it upon himself to remedy the situation.
The 5-foot-9 senior drove to the hoop for a basket to start the second half, then knocked the ball loose on the defensive end to teammate Ethan Blackmore, who scooped it up, took two dribbles and fed Walker for a layup.
The Red Raiders, who had seven field goals the whole first half, hit six shots in the third as they pulled away for a 48-28 victory in the first round of the Johnsburg Thanksgiving Tournament on Monday night.
"I knew we needed some energy from somewhere because we were down at halftime," Walker said. "We weren't in it because we weren't making shots. I feel like I had to do something to bring the energy and my teammates brought the energy with me. I love them for it. I just keep trying to do what I can do."
It was the first varsity boys coaching victory for Raiders coach Collin Kalamatas, a 2005 Huntley graduate who took over this season after Will Benson left to take the Stevenson job. It was also the first game as head coach for Central's Dan Oziminski, a 2006 Johnsburg graduate who was back in his old gym.
"It was a clunky start scoring-wise," Kalamatas said. "They came out in that 1-2-2 that was really tight and compacted. It took a while to figure out how to attack the middle of it. We settled for a lot of open 3s. I felt like in the second quarter we got a little more aggressive and went to the rim. Defensively, we were awesome."
The Raiders (1-0) played tough man-to-man defense to keep the Tigers (0-1) scoreless for almost 10 minutes, from 3:35 of the first until 2:00 remained in the second quarter.
"Our guys really understand physicality away from the ball, so when Central's running their screening action our guys were physical in disrupting it," Kalamatas said. "We did a really good job off the ball being physical and on the ball making sure they weren't easy passes into the post. Everything was under stress."
Huntley shot 14 of 24 in the second half after going 7 of 21 in the first. Blackmore thought some of that had to do with strong defense.
"We gave up only seven points in the first half, that's crazy," Blackmore said. "We are big on defense. We were physical on their screens, they set a lot of screens and we were physical.
"Transition is going to be a big part of our game this year. We want to get up and down quick. It all starts on the defensive end."
Jeffrey Cruickshank led Huntley with 10 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. Walker and Lucas Crosby each scored eight.
"This team cares about each other and has faith if shots don't fall, we have to play defense," Walker said. "We know we have to rebound. We're not the tallest ones. It's a big part of the game taking away second-chance points. If we keep doing what we're doing, we'll be real good."
Central was led by Jackson Hopkins, who hit 10 of 12 free throws and had 12 points. Preston Mast added eight points. The Tigers hit 7 for 30 field goals for the game, 2 of 12 in the first half.
"I have to give it to Huntley, a super competitive team. They were getting after our guys," Oziminski said. "They were being men and sometimes we need to step up to that test. We talked about it at halftime.
"We were playing off our heels a little bit. You have to give it to our opponent because they were making it difficult. They were beating us in all toughness categories."