The Huntley Red Raiders’ boys basketball team had their season come to an end on Monday, Feb. 29 after a 59-46 loss to Larkin in the South Elgin Regional. The Red Raiders finished a difficult season with a record of 8-22. They were able to keep the majority of their games close, but struggled throughout the season with consistently closing out in the fourth quarter. One of the team’s biggest regrets was their inability to finish games.
“We weren’t able to win a lot of close games that we should have been able to win,” said senior Makombo Tizora.
However, their game against Larkin was much different than that common trend. The Red Raiders had an abysmal first quarter on the offensive side of the ball, making just 1 of their 14 shots and managing to put only 3 points on the board. The Raiders’ lack of firepower left them in a 16-3 hole at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Raiders continued to struggle on the offensive end. Their shots continued to be off the mark and they shot only 16% in the first half, making 4 of their 25 shots. However, Huntley’s traditionally suffocating defense was able to limit the damage, and Larkin went into halftime with a 30-9 lead, large, but not as bad as it could have been.
“Our defense was pretty solid the whole game, which kept us in striking distance,” said coach Will Benson.
Huntley’s offense began to find life in the second half. The Raiders went on a 24-11 run in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 41-33 heading into the fourth. The run was sparked by sophomore guard JJ Flores, who led the team with 21 points, and junior guard Matt Seng. Unfortunately, the Raiders’ poor shooting in the first half proved too much to overcome. Although the scored a respectable 13 points in the fourth quarter, Larkin was able to hang on for a 59-46 victory.
Some on the team felt that if it weren’t for the lack of energy to start the game, the Raiders could have pulled off the victory.
“We started off really slowly, and at halftime we were losing 30-9,” said Tizora. “If we played consistently the whole game we might have been able to win.”
For seniors Tizora, Jamieson Allare, Danny Spoeth, Izzy Flores, D’Andre London, and Kyle Nwogu, this marks the end of their Huntley careers. However, the Raiders will be able to return many of their key players next season, including Flores and Seng.
For Benson, this season was a solid building block for his younger players as they prepare for next year.
“I think our seniors did a good job of helping to keep our younger guys focused on getting better each week despite losing some close games,” said Benson. “It will be nice to have several guys back next year who have a lot of varsity experience and I like the lower level groups that we have coming up to combine with who returns.”