On Jan. 23 at 7 p.m., Huntley’s varsity boys basketball team faced the Prairie Ridge Wolves in the East Gym. From the start, the energy coming from both sets of bleachers maintained a tangibility. The support from Huntley and Prairie Ridge was well balanced, and almost promised for a close and tough game.
The tip-off signaled the music of squeaking shoes and basketball bounces that would be heard throughout the entire game. Right away, the Raiders’ and the Wolves’ performances were competitive and determined, both with the intent to individually challenge themselves and gain another win.
There were many fouls from both teams, proving each team member was adamant to pushing themselves further as the seconds passed.
The scores were fairly close throughout the first half of the game, ending 26-23 Huntley. However, slowly after that, the boys began to lose their stride, which was evident in the fourth quarter.
“For three quarters it went really well,” coach Collin Kalamatas said. “We played hard, we played aggressive, and we were the team in control… And then in the fourth quarter, we allowed them to dictate what they wanted to do on the floor. We just didn’t have a response for anything.”
The tension in the room was definitely palpable during the final seconds of the game, especially coming from the teammates on the bench, the friends and family, and from Raider Nation. Huntley was ahead by one point: 48-47. Soon thereafter, Prairie Ridge scored a three-pointer within about 20 seconds of the last quarter. The Raiders tried their hardest to conquer their opponent’s higher score, but unfortunately, they were not able to.
The final score of the game was 48-50, Prairie Ridge…putting HHS at a win-loss ratio of 5-13 so far this season. Although the Huntley boys fought very hard during the game, the Wolves knew how to take home a win.
“It felt like we were going to win the game tonight, but stuff happens,” junior forward Blake Ottaviano said, who was sitting with a few other teammates on the bench that day. “We fought a lot harder in the first half which usually doesn’t really happen. But we played hard, played physical, and just [did] the right thing.”
Although the boys did not win this game, their determined effort cannot go without notice. According to Kalamatas, sophomore Uchenna Egezeke was the top scorer of the night and sophomore Ryan Crosby showed the most improvement. But Kalamatas believed every single one of his players was valuable to this game, win or lose.
“The good thing with our group is we don’t have one most valuable player,” he said. “We’ve got 15 guys on our entire team that contribute in their own ways…but we do it as a collective group. We do it with all 15 guys.”