A rough first quarter led to Huntley’s demise in its 42-53 loss to Wheeling Monday night.
The Raiders fell back early, scoring just 4 points but allowing 13 to the Wildcats in the first 8 minutes of play. Wheeling’s strong defense early on was something that they have not seen all season.
“One thing that we’ve been working on is our press and obviously it showed that we were able to be effective,” said Wheeling’s head coach Julissa Hernandez.
Huntley’s offense woke up in the second quarter, going on a 5-2 run in the first 2 minutes.
However, Wheeling fought back and kept a 9-point-lead going into the half. Huntley’s defense came out shaky at the start of the second half, allowing 16 points in the third quarter. Although Huntley mounted a comeback and outscored Wheeling in the fourth quarter, it proved too little, too late.
“Just defensively, we gave up way too many points today,” said head coach Steve Raethz. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole in the first and third quarters.”
The victory proved as motivation for the Wildcats, whose record sits at 8-17 with a handful of games remaining before the postseason.
“I think, since we’re three games before regionals, using the momentum to go into regionals is just a huge win,” said Hernandez.
On the Huntley side, the loss proved as a late wake-up call in the waning games of the season.
“It’s got to start on the practice floor,” said Raethz. “At times there’s been a little bit of disconnect where we aren’t carrying over some of the positive things we’ve been doing. We just need to be positive and understand that there’s still a lot to play for in the season.”
One of the highlights in Monday’s game was sophomore guard Sam Andrews, who put up 19 points and has scored in double-digits every game in January.
“Sam’s been a very consistent player on the offensive end this year,” said Raethz. “With her being a sophomore, she’s got another two years with us and I think she’s going to continue being a very well-rounded player.”
With its victory, Wheeling moves to an overall record of 8-19 on the season. Huntley’s loss marks its fifth in a row as its falls to three games behind Cary-Grove in the Valley Division. The Raiders will try to stop their losing streak on Wednesday when they host the Dundee-Crown Chargers.