HUNTLEY – Huntley’s opponents know a tough defensive challenge is coming when they step on the court against the Red Raiders.
“Our defense has helped us all year,” Huntley forward Zach Gorney said. “When our offense is working too, we’re really tough to beat.”
Huntley’s defense, particularly in the second half, has rarely been better. The offense was pretty good as well as the Raiders disposed of Jacobs, 54-26, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball game Tuesday night.
Huntley (16-7 overall, 10-1 FVC Valley) clinched a share of its third consecutive Valley Division championship three days after its 29-game division winning streak was halted by Dundee-Crown. The Raiders can win outright with a victory against Cary-Grove Friday or if D-C loses either of its final games against Crystal Lake South or C-G.
“I wanted to make sure we weren’t feeling sorry for ourselves after that,” Raiders coach Marty Manning said. “I was happy with the effort on Saturday [against D-C], we just had trouble putting the ball in the basket.”
The Raiders took a 26-19 halftime lead on Tommy Regan’s 3-pointer from the right corner, then put the game away in the third quarter. Jacobs (14-13, 7-4) went 1 of 23 from the field in the second half.
Amanze Egekeze, Huntley’s 6-foot-7 junior forward, blocked three shots in the third quarter to help set the tone, despite having three fouls at halftime.
“I know I can play with fouls,” Egekeze said. “I’m pretty good at managing that, so coach left me in there. I feel like I can alter shots even if I don’t get my hand on them. We had a lot of energy. We just clamped down on them.”
Egekeze sparked the offense with a tip-in, a rebound putback and an 8-foot shot from the right baseline in the third quarter for six of his nine points. Gorney led Huntley with 15, hitting 7 of 8 free throws, and Jake Wagner scored 14.
“We played really well,” Manning said. “We had hands up on them and Amanze was there to clean things up on the boards.”
Jacobs, which beat Cary-Grove 77-63 on Saturday, shot 18.9 percent (7 of 37) from the field for the game.
“Huntley just played super tonight,” Golden Eagles coach Jim Hinkle said. “They were a little angry about their last game and made us pay the price. They were physical and we weren’t able to match that.”
Lake Ojo led Jacobs with seven points, all in the first half.
“We were a little intimidated by their defense,” Ojo said. “We’ve been inconsistent. Last game was scored 77, next game 26. I expect we’ll get 80 next time.”