By Ashley Knipp
Senior Tyler Brunschon shoots for a three, as he does often. The crowd is on the edge of their seats, but he blocks it all out for this shot. Everyone goes to the Huntley vs. Jacobs game to watch the rivalry battle.
It bumps the rim, pops up, and swish! The score is now 27 – 21.
Jacobs gets the ball back and takes it up the court when suddenly sophomore Jake Dachman comes out of nowhere, snatching the ball. The crowd roars while Dachman sprints down the court, and lays it up for two. 29 – 21.
A fast-paced and aggressive play; this kind of intensity is what this year’s HHS boys varsity basketball team is built on.
Marty Manning has coached the team to an overall 16-4 record. This is his twelfth year coaching varsity.
“I do this to give back to the coaches who gave me the opportunity to play,” said Manning.
He pushes them hard, but it is only to help them improve. He is tough, but “if he didn’t yell, he wouldn’t be a good coach,” said Dachman.
“He makes you want to win for him,” said freshman Amanze Egekeze.
The 6-foot-3 Egekeze had a notion during try-outs that he would be playing varsity his first year, but continued to work hard. He did not want to come to any conclusions too fast, especially as a freshman.
He likes the challenge, but it is a whole different game as a 14-year-old playing against 17 and 18-year-olds.
“I love basketball, and I don’t play any other sports,” Egekeze said. “As far as basketball will take me, I’ll do it.”
A early highlight came this season on Dec. 2 when Huntley took on Crystal Lake Central. The Raiders had their backs against the wall heading into the game being physically outmatched on paper.
“They came into our house and we blew them out,” said Dachman.
Coming out with intensity and passion early in the season showed just how great this year’s team could be, despite inexperience. The only two seniors, Brunschon and senior Dylan Neukirch, currently lead the team. Two sophomores, a freshman, and quite a few rookie juniors make up the varsity roster as well.
“No one matches Neukirch and Brunschon in aggression and taking the ball,” said Manning, “but once someone develops these skills, we’ll be ok.”
That extra intensity in the seniors comes from knowing this is the last year they will be Raiders.
“During the year when you’re a senior, you really don’t want to lose,” said Neukirch. “You want to go out on a good note.”
Brunschon has been competing on varsity since his sophomore year, and plans to play basketball in college. He and Neukirch work to bring the team to their potential.
“Our roles are making sure the younger guys know what they’re doing, and to be more vocal,” said Brunschon. “My mindset right now is to make it past the pillars we set during the season.”
The team’s focus is to continue playing “Huntley Basketball”: Solid defense, outplaying opponents by intensity.
The team lost that for a while, partly due to Neukirch’s hand injury. This caused a key-player to miss eight games and a tournament.
“It was hard,” said Brunschon about their time without Neukirch. “When he’s out there, it’s totally different. He can control everything [on the court].”
Even when injured, Neukirch attended practice and kept conditioning to stay on top of his game for when he came back.
“I felt like I let down the team,” said Neukirch. “I’m glad I’m back and playing. I missed being out on the court.”
Neukirch has been active for weeks now, and the team is as confident as ever approaching the second half stretch of the season.
“Hopefully we can bring home some hardware,” said Dachman.
The freshman team has had a balanced season under the supervision of coaches Chris Heward and Collin Kalamatas; their greatest moment so far has been winning the Grayslake tournament.
“The biggest difference between middle school and high school basketball is that it’s more fast-paced,” said Zach Gorney. “I want to play basketball my whole life.”
The sophomore team is on a roll with only one game lost so far. Sophomores Bryce Beschorner, Kameron Salee, and Tommy Regan seem to be leading the team. They have been nearly unbeatable so far this season, holding a current record of 18 – 1.
This promising team will provide some fresh talent and intensity for the varsity basketball team next season.
Post Author: Mike Krebs. Mike Krebs is a staff writer for The Voice. He is currently a junior a Huntley High School. Aside from writing for the Voice he works at the Crystal Lake Country Club as both a caddie and on the Bag Room Staff. He has been an Explorer at the Algonquin Police Department for two years and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant. He also volunteers with the Tri-Area Court for Teens for Lake in the Hills, Huntley, and Algonquin. He enjoys spending time with family and friends. When possible he enjoys playing paintball with friends at local fields.