Because Huntley’s Sam and Ali Andrews are two years apart in school, it would seem this high school girls basketball season might be their first as teammates.
It actually is their ninth year playing together. Ali, a precocious 6-foot-2 freshman, has played travel basketball with Sam since she was in third grade and Sam was in fifth. They played in recreation leagues before starting travel.
“It’s helped me improve a lot on my game, especially making me get stronger and my skills have gone up,” said Ali, who averages 18 points and eight rebounds a game.
Sam, a 6-foot junior, averages 17 points and four rebounds a game for the 6-2 Red Raiders and was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection last season.
“[Ali] has always been able to keep up,” Sam said. “She has her moments, but I just encourage her. It’s really fun to play with her. We know how each other plays and can predict what we’re going to do.”
Raiders coach Steve Raethz heard the stories about the wunderkind who was coming his way and has not been disappointed.
“We got a real taste of just how good Ali is over the summer when she played a full 30 games with us,” Raethz said. “At this point, in my 14 years here, I’ve never coached a freshman with the skill set she has. The sky’s the limit for her in terms of potential and how much better she’s going to continue to get each year.”
The Andrews sisters are dangerous because they can score inside with their size, but also can work outside with their ballhandling and shooting. Sam leads the team in 3-pointers, and Ali has had games where she hit multiple 3s.
Together with freshman Kayla Barreto, junior Bethany Zornow and returning starter Haley Ream, Huntley has the look of a team that could do well in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division and beyond.
“Ali’s been playing against some stiff competition, and that gives you an indication of her skill level that she’s able to play up two age groups,” Raethz said. “They play at an elite level of AAU, and that’s been good for them. In doing that, they’ve really improved their games. They complement each other very well on the floor.”
Funny how things work out, but Chet Andrews, their father, played baseball in high school. Their mother Pam was a runner. The girls discovered early on their love for hoops, and things took off from there.
“Ali acts like one of the leaders, maybe not vocally, but silently and as an example,” Sam said. “She’s a good team player overall.”
Ali describes Sam as “a very good all-around player who can go to the wings and shoot or score in the post.”
Being so close in size and ability also allows for some great matchups in the driveway.
“We always get competitive [in 1-on-1 games] and make each other better,” Ali said.
Both asked the question about who won more games separately, they both responded they come out about even.
It all makes Raethz one very happy coach.
“We’re really excited with the fact we don’t just have them this year, but they get to play with each other next year as well,” Raethz said.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.