Boys basketball blazes through Crystal Lake Central


N. Darnall

Nicole Darnall

The boys varsity basketball players file into the east gymnasium at Huntley High School. Their bright shoes and checkered pants reflect off the shiny floor. Their opponents, Crystal Lake Central High School, share the gym floor with them, warming up for the big game. They run their drills and stretch their long legs out with Huntley’s players, all while listening to some rap music to pump them up. 

Cutting through the air and quieting the fans, the whistle blows for the end of the warm-up. The players immediately put on their game faces. They join on the court, and the referee raises the ball and launches it into the air. 

Both players, as if in slow motion, jump in the air and extend their arms, hoping to be the one that comes in contact with it. As they reach upward, Huntley gets possession of the ball. 

The players quickly scatter, and fans can hear the all-too-familiar squeaking of shoes on a gym floor. Senior Uchenna Egekeze is the first to make a basket at 6:43 minutes into the first quarter, earning Huntley three points. A minute later he runs up to the hoop, jumps, and uses his hand to elegantly swish the ball in a perfect lay-up.  

20 seconds later, a Central player makes the first basket for his team. With 30 seconds left, Egekeze makes another basket, ending the first quarter with a score of 11-8. 

The second quarter starts off with Central gaining two points, but by the end, the score has doubled to 25-12 in Huntley’s favor.

The half-time show featured the varsity dance team for entertainment while the players sat on the sidelines, keeping themselves hydrated. 

“I think we have had a solid season so far. We are 20-6. Overall, 11-2 in the conference, so we are in a nice spot,” coach William Benson said. “We are just to the point now where we have five games left till the regionals, so we have to incrementally start to get better so that we are playing our best in the regionals in a couple of weeks.” 

Right off the bat, senior Ryan Sroka makes an impressive shot, gaining Huntley three points. Huntley and Central score back and forth for the rest of the quarter, and the score ends up 36-20. 

Starting off the last quarter, Hunter French makes both of his free throws. Huntley makes the majority of the baskets the rest of the quarter, proving their practice and hard work has paid off. The quarter came to a close with senior Rafael De La Paz earning two points with 35 seconds left.

The game ended with Huntley winning 52-27.

“We play really well together as a team, share the ball a lot, and play good team defense,” player Ryan Vrugt said.

“[My favorite thing about the team] is overall they are a great group of guys,” Benson said. “They have a lot of chemistry and a lot of different personalities, but they all cheer for each other. They are just a really together group.”

The Raiders’ next game is on Feb. 15 against Prairie Ridge High School.

“We just have to keep preparing for every opponent individually. Hopefully, we can continue the defensive effort and sharing the ball,” Benson said. “I thought we were doing great on our transitions but maybe just try to push the ball a little bit better. I think if we continue to do these things hopefully we will end up peaking for regionals.”