HUNTLEY – Huntley made Friday's girls basketball game against Fox Valley Conference co-leader Crystal Lake South a little more difficult than it had to be at times, missing nine of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter.
South's Kyra Swartz sank two 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds to make things even more uncomfortable for the Red Raiders, but a last-second 3-point attempt by guard Emily Rich was off the mark for the Gators.
Huntley prevailed, 42-40, improving to 4-4 and 2-2 in the FVC. The Gators, who entered Friday's game tied with Dundee-Crown for the FVC lead, dropped to 4-4 and 3-1 in the FVC.
The feel of Friday's game was a bit familiar for the Raiders.
"In our eight games so far, we've been in a lot of these types of games," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "I expect that the rest of our way in our conference. There's parity; there are some really good teams at the top, but there are a lot of improved teams – South being one of them.
"South stepped up and just knocked down two huge 3s there to close the gap. We’ve got to finish off games better so we don’t put too much pressure on the defensive end and give them another possession, but I was proud of them for pulling this one out."
The Raiders led, 37-28, with 3:30 left in the fourth after an inside basket from junior forward Kamsi Nwogu, who finished with a game-high 13 points and five rebounds.
From there, South chipped away while Huntley struggled at the foul line.
South senior guard Allie Schoen (12 points, seven rebounds) hit her second 3 of the game to cut the Raiders' lead to 37-31 with 2:25 remaining. Schoen scored with 1:41 left, making it 39-34.
Huntley made only 3 of 8 free throws in the last 1:35. After Swartz's second 3, Huntley turned the ball back over on a travel. Rich took a couple of dribbles at the the top of the key but missed to the right of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
"That's what we've done all season so far," Gators coach Mark Mucha said of his team's late push. "Whether we've been up or down, they're working hard and not quitting; they're not getting down on themselves.
"Early on, we didn't hit some shots. Huntley started out strong in the third quarter, and we didn't have some fouls go our way. That kind of evened out in the fourth. We kept preaching to them to be physical, be strong and take the ball to the basket. They listened, and things started clicking."
Huntley ended the third quarter on a 7-2 run to take a 30-20 lead into the fourth. South only had one lead in the game, when Rich hit a 3 coming out of halftime.
Swartz finished with seven points, all in the fourth. Maddie Scharrenberg added nine points for the Gators. Jessie Ozzauto scored seven points for Huntley, and Raquel Radermacher had six. Ashley Guazzo made a 3 in the fourth.
The teams combined for 29 fouls in the fourth. South, as did Huntley, hurt itself from the free-throw line, shooting only 52.6% (10 of 19). Huntley finished at 51.6% (16 of 31).
Nwogu said the Raiders stayed confident even as South stormed back.
"[South] is a tough team," Nwogu said. "It was going back and forth there for a while. We've been in a couple of games like this before, so it's nice to finally get one. All of the teams in the conference are tough.
"They're all going to be close games. We just have to give it our all and never back down."
STAR OF THE GAME
Kamsi Nwogu, Huntley, jr., F
Nwogu led all scorers with 13 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Nwogu made 5 of 7 free throws and grabbed five rebounds.
1: Crystal Lake South led only once. Emily Rich hit a 3-pointer to give the Gators a 15-14 lead with 6:20 left in the third quarter.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Huntley and South combined to shoot only 52% (26 of 50) from the free-throw line.
Huntley 42, Crystal Lake South 40
CRYSTAL LAKE SOUTH (40)
Schoen 4 2-2 12, Rich 1 0-0 3, Swartz 2 1-3 7, Sevcik 1 0-0 3, Kuffel 1 2-8 4, Trier 1 0-0 2, Scharrenberg 2 5-6 40. Totals: 12 10-19 40.
Nwogu 4 5-7 13, Seng 1 0-2 3, Ozzauto 2 3-5 7, Wash 1 2-2 4, Radermacher 2 2-6 6, Guazzo 1 0-2 3, Novak 0 3-5 3, Faulkner 1 1-2 3. Totals: 12 16-31 42.
Crystal Lake South 4 8 8 20 – 40
Huntley 7 7 16 12 – 42
3-point goals: Crystal Lake South 6 (Schoen 2, Swartz 2, Rich, Sevcik), Huntley 2 (Seng, Guazzo). Total fouls: Crystal Lake South 20, Huntley 25. Fouled out: Sevcik (CLS).