[GALLERY] Raiders poach Tigers, advance to state semifinals

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[GALLERY] Raiders poach Tigers, advance to state semifinals

Marek Makowski

Before their monumental game against Wheaton Warrenville South in the Dundee-Crown Class 4A Super-Sectional on Monday, the Raiders watched an inspirational video that relayed the following quote:

“How would you play if tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed?”

The answer for the girls was quickly obvious as Huntley edged out South in a 47-43 victory for a ticket to the state semifinals.

“What an effort by our players,” said Huntley coach Steve Raethz.  “They just gutted it out for 32 minutes against a really solid Wheaton Warrenville South team.”

The Raiders went in against a Tigers team that itself was coming off of a few late comebacks behind the leadership of junior guard and DePaul recruit Meghan Waldron, who finished with 23 points and five rebounds.  Although Waldron finished with high totals, her performance was stifled by Huntley guard Haley Ream late in the game, whose tight defense drew a foul from Waldron in a five-point game with less than a minute to play.

“They did a really nice job of containing Waldron,” Raethz said. “Haley did a great job of denying her the basketball down the stretch.”

Huntley lacked height in comparison to Wheaton Warrenville South, but that didn’t matter.  Freshman forward Ali Andrews (12 points) won the tipoff against 6-foot, 4-inch center Diamond Thompson, setting the tempo for the Raiders’ rebounding game.

“Key number one heading into this game was rebounding the basketball [and] limiting their opportunities on the offensive end to one shot,” said Raethz, whose team pulled down 25 rebounds as opposed to the Tigers’ 20. “We did a fantastic job with rebounding it.”

Ali also held Thompson to just four points in what emerged as another shutdown performance by Huntley’s defense.

“I can’t say enough about our defensive effort tonight, it was fantastic,” Raethz said. “We did a great job of plugging up gaps, rebounding the basketball.  All the things we talked about as keys to the game I thought that our kids just did a fantastic job with.”

It wasn’t just Andrews and Ream in Huntley’s win, though.  Junior forward Sam Andrews (17 points) knocked down two clutch treys in the third quarter to keep Huntley ahead of South.

“We knew that every possession was every important to us so we wanted to get a good shot,” she said.  “We just moved the ball around really well as a team [and] we had some key shots at the end.”

Junior guard Bethany Zornow also added to Huntley’s offense outpouring with 11 points.

“It seemed like at different moments we had different players stepping up,” Raethz said.  “It’s been about all 13 of our kids all season long. Our kids did a great job of coming off the bench and giving us a spark.”

The Raiders win was its 26th of the season, a school record.  Huntley now treks south to Bloomington-Normal, Ill., for the Class 4A Sectional Semifinal against Rolling Meadows at 6:30 on Friday night.

“It’s just a landmark moment in our program to get this far,” Raethz said amidst a flurry of handshakes and hugs after the victory.  “We are so proud to be representing Huntley High School down in Bloomington.

“We might bend a little bit, but we haven’t broken.  We’re going to try to ride this as far as we can.”

 

Photos by Mike Krebs/The Voice

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