HUNTLEY – When the lead the Huntley girls basketball team had maintained throughout the night suddenly started to shrink, the temptation was to push for more point production.
But the harder Huntley pressed, trying to do anything to solve the array of defensive looks Prairie Ridge used to try to neutralize the Red Raiders’ scoring duo of Ali and Sam Andrews, things only got worse.
Coach Steve Raethz’s solution was simple: Stay patient.
When Huntley did that and then used its own defensive pressure to shut down the Wolves in the fourth quarter, a 49-35 win Saturday was enough to keep the Red Raiders unbeaten in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division.
Huntley (11-1, 3-0 FVC Valley) used an 11-4 fourth-quarter scoring advantage to not only bounce back from its first loss of the season Friday night, but to head into a 10-day break sitting alone at the top of the Valley standings.
“We knew as long as we kept our composure, we were going to be able to win the game,” said Huntley’s Bethany Zornow, who scored 10 points to go along with 12 each by Ali and Sam Andrews. “We slowed the game down, we played the game our way and the way we wanted to. That’s what we want to do every time and we followed through.”
Prairie Ridge (6-4, 3-1 FVC Valley) didn’t make it easy. Despite trailing by as many as 12 points, the Wolves – led by Kirstin Voel-Pel’s 13 points – made their push in the third quarter. Prairie Ridge kept constant pressure around the Andrews sisters and took Huntley out of its rhythm. The Wolves got to within 36-31 after Maddie Drain (10 points) and Voel-Pel scored the final four points of the quarter.
But only four points in the final eight minutes kept Prairie Ridge from capping the comeback.
“We just couldn’t get enough things going offensively to stick with them,” Wolves coach Rob Baker said. “But I’m proud of my team. We come over here, we played hard and [Huntley] knows we can compete with them.
“I don’t think a lot of people thought we could compete with a Huntley and a Cary (Grove) and a Crystal Lake South, and I think my kids came over here tonight and showed if you’re going to play Prairie Ridge, you better be ready to play hard.”
Huntley did what it needed to in the fourth quarter behind Ali Andrews, whose 3-point field goal pushed the lead back to double figures for good, holding off a team Raethz knew had plenty of momentum coming in after recent wins over C-G and South.
“We knew we needed this one to get a leg up (in the Valley),” Raethz said. “I think our kids did a nice job of hanging in there and finding ways to score.”