Huntley head coach Steve Raethz has stressed defense more than anything else this season. Wednesday night, that philosophy paid off.
“We knew that why we were losing [the last couple of games] was because of our defensive end,” said junior guard Haley Ream. “We knew that the key was working as a team on defense.”
The Raiders (11-11 overall) snapped their five-game losing streak by defeating the second-place Dundee-Crown Chargers (14-9 overall) on senior night.
Huntley’s defense came out strong on its senior night, keeping themselves within 5 points of a lead after the first quarter. The Raiders took it up a notch in the second quarter, taking a 16-15 lead with 1:30 left.
They never looked back.
“I they should just keep doing what they were doing,” said Raethz. “We had probably one of our best defensive efforts all season.”
After forcing12 turnovers in the first half, Huntley kept their swift pace by holding the Chargers scoreless in the third quarter until fewer than 3 minutes remained. Dundee-Crown had a late charge and made it a 4-point-game going into the final eight minutes.
“[We had] just too many uncaused turnovers,” said Chargers head coach Michelle Russell. “We just threw too many shots away.”
Although Huntley was outscored 11-13 in the final quarter, its solid defense stayed strong as it earned the Raiders their first win since Jan. 14. Ream led the team by scoring 16 points and holding Dundee-Crown’s explosive point guard Ali Sanders to 9 points.
“I thought Haley Ream had an outstanding game on both ends,” said Raethz. “By far, this was her best game of the season. She just played with a lot of toughness tonight and really led our team on both ends of the floor.”
Huntley spread the wealth in its victory, with senior Abbey Shaw dishing out 12 points and sophomore Sam Andrews racking up yet another double digit game with 10.
“We have to get contributions from a variety of different players and tonight I thought we had a lot of people, different players step up,” said Raethz. “We were in dire need of a win and tonight it was great to see us come away with one.”
The Raiders’ next test is on Saturday night at the conference-leading Cary-Grove Trojans (9-1 in conference). Huntley’s last victory before its five-game skid came against Cary.
“I think if we lost this one, we wouldn’t have had as much hope going into Cary-Grove,” said Ream, who leads Huntley in rebounds, steals, and assists. “I think we’re going to go into this game thinking we’re going to beat them a second time.”