CARPENTERSVILLE – Midway through the third quarter, Huntley guard Uchenna Egekeze blocked a shot on defense, led the fast break the other way and knocked down a 3-pointer.
It capped off a nine-point third quarter for Egekeze, during which Huntley extended its lead over Dundee-Crown from three points to 16. The Red Raiders went on to beat D-C, 56-39, on Saturday in what was the Fox Valley Conference opener for both teams.
The Red Raiders (4-1, 1-0) outscored the Chargers (4-1, 0-1) in the third quarter, 20-7. D-C led most of the first half, but in the third quarter, Egekeze pushed the pace and found his way to the rim.
“When [Egekeze] goes inside first, and then he hits the 3, that’s when he’s at his best,” Huntley coach Will Benson said. “When he comes out and shoots 3s first, that’s not his game. He goes inside then comes back outside.”
Egekeze mostly left the 3-point shooting to teammate Ryan Sroka, who made three 3s and scored a game-high 20 points. Egekeze finished with 16 points.
"We wanted to come out, get some stops, turn that into easy baskets," Sroka said. “We didn’t shoot it well in the first half, but we knew that was going to come. [Nathan] Draper hits the first 3, gets us going, then I start hitting my 3s, get some easy baskets.”
D-C led by as much as five in the first quarter. Huntley offensive rebounds led to easy scores inside, which flipped the script in the second quarter. The Chargers went cold offensively, scoring only six points in the second quarter.
“Personally, I thought the game was decided in the second quarter,” D-C coach Lance Huber said. “They got like three offensive rebounds, we took three poor shots where we didn’t make them guard us."
Huntley ended the second quarter on a 9-2 run during that sequence. Even so, the Red Raiders held just a three-point lead at halftime.
Benson noted that Draper, Luke DiFrancesca and Ryan Crosby all had key offensive rebounds.
"We knew we had to keep them off the glass and take care of the ball," Benson said. "We wanted to limit their easy shots."
D-C’s offense had some long possessions that took a while for a shot to develop. Huber credited Huntley’s defensive effort.
"Their defense was excellent, they made a bunch of shots in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t buy any sort of basket: free throw, layup, 3-pointer, jumper," Huber said. "They were the better team today."
Huntley shot 15 of 19 from the field in the second half.
Egekeze said Huntley’s goal in each game is to hold opponents to fewer than 40 points. Saturday marked the first time the Red Raiders did so this season.
“It was our defense,” Egekeze said. “In the beginning we were trying to get things going [offensively], but I felt like we really played tough defensively and that really helped us.”
Jack Michalski led the Chargers with 10 points. Damarion Butler scored nine. The loss was D-C’s first after winning the Leland G. Strombom Holiday Tournament at Sycamore last week.
For Huntley, it marked the first FVC road win since January 2017.
STAR OF THE GAME
Huntley, jr., G
Sroka scored a game-high 20 points. He made three 3-pointers and scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half.
20: Huntley scored 20 points in the third quarter, outscoring D-C 20-7 in that span.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Huntley’s Uchenna Egekeze scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter.
“We played really good team basketball in the second half, and obviously Uchenna there in the third quarter was pretty special,” coach Will Benson said.
Huntley 56, Dundee-Crown 39
Hunt 9 12 20 15 – 56
D-C 12 6 7 14 – 39
HUNTLEY (56): Draper 2 0-0 5, Roppolo 0 0-0 0, Pasco 3 0-0 7, Egekeze 6 3-4 16, Sroka 7 3-4 20, DiFrancesca 0 0-0 0, Crosby 3 1-2 8, Mendoza 0 0-0 0, Vrugt 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 7-8 56.
3-point goals: 7 (Sroka 3, Pasco 1, Draper 1, Egekeze 1, Crosby 1).
DUNDEE–CROWN: Butler 4 0-0 9, Hairston 2 1-4 5, Raby 1 4-6 7, Stec 3 0-1 6, Michalski 5 0-0 10, Cook 1 0-3 2, Prusko 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 5-14 39.
3-point goals: 2 (Butler 1, Raby 1).