The weather outside was gray and gloomy, but the East Gym, with Raider Nation packed in neon, most certainly was not. On Jan. 27, Huntley’s winter Homecoming game, the 5-15 Huntley Red Raiders took on the 5-13 Crystal Lake Central Tigers in a Fox Valley Conference crossover.
The last time these two teams met up, the Raiders won 58-55 in overtime. This time however, the outcome was not in their favor. Huntley lost 45-46 with five seconds left after a missed three point attempt by junior Chris Costantino.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough game,” junior guard Cory Knipp said. “They have been in many close games, so we had to be prepared for end of game situations. The pressure was just like any other game, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
The Raiders and the Tigers are both in the bottom four of the conference, so the game was evenly matched. Both teams had a losing streak going into the game, Huntley with six and Crystal Lake with two. Friday’s game was important with both teams looking to break their streaks.
Huntley led throughout the entire game, with the greatest lead being 26-22 at half. Neither team was successful in their three point attempts, so points were scored mostly by layups and free throws.
Towards the end of the third quarter, the Tigers began to take advantage of the sloppy Raider defense and the game was tied 39-39.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” junior guard Brett Bigden said. “When they tied it up, nobody was phased. We knew we had to dig in and get some stops. We had been in this situation before and we trusted coach because he prepared us all week and we stuck to the game plan down the stretch.”
With five seconds left in the game, the Raiders were down by one. Head coach Will Benson called a time-out, drawing up a play that he thought would win the game.
“We thought we would get an open look off of a mistake by them,” Bigden said. “I realized when I was inbounding the ball that they already had countered the play that was drawn up, so we went with the second option and tried to get the best shot.”
The best shot left Costantino on the three point line with less than five seconds left, looking to win the game.
However, he was unsuccessful. The Raiders fell in a heartbreaking loss by one, but they are looking forward and preparing for the future.
The Raiders next game is Tuesday, Jan. 31 away at Dundee Crown, where they will take on the 1-7 conference ranked Chargers.