Bouncing into Brilliance

Huntley’s girls varsity basketball team wins the first game of the season with a 15-point lead

The+varsity+team+celebrates+their+landslide+victory+against+Prairie+Ridge

Courtesy of @huntleygbb

The varsity team celebrates their landslide victory against Prairie Ridge

Kate Alvarado

Walking onto the court, senior Nicole Flaherty prepared to kick off her last conference season on Huntley’s varsity girls basketball team. With the bright, red number two displayed on the back of her white Red Raiders jersey and the band playing Katy Perry’s “California Girls,” both teams jumped into what would be an energetic game resulting in a landslide victory of 53-38 for Huntley.

Despite Prairie Ridge taking the jump ball and starting with a strong offensive lead, Huntley’s defense was able to recover the ball quickly and pave the way for Flaherty to score the first shot of the game. After getting into a rhythm, Huntley stole the upper hand with two consecutive three-pointers before the first time-out of the night was called. 

“Defensively [we were strong] because we turned them into good offensive possessions,” junior Jessica Ozzauto said. “We were strong with the ball and knew what to do at the right time.”

While staying comfortably in the offense for the first half of the game, Huntley was able to snag a 14-point lead by halftime. Everything was falling correctly into place.

“Our team had really good ball movement and it showed,” Flaherty said. “We stayed strong as a team and our defense was able to stop [Prairie Ridge’s] best player.”

However, Prairie Ridge came back with a vengeance, managing to bring the point difference into the single digits. Suddenly, the opposing team got rougher and fouls were dealt out left and right. Even a referee took a hit on the leg at one point. Regardless, Huntley persevered.

“It’s all mental because if you show [that it affects you] they’re going to keep going,” Ozzauto said. “But if you stay strong, they’re going to break.” 

It was not long before Huntley regained their stride and got right back on track. After some amazing recoveries, Huntley increased their comfortable lead. 

“They played a complete game on both ends,” Coach Raethz said. “When things got tough at the end of the third [quarter and] into the fourth when Praire Ridge made a run against us, our players showed resilience and did a great job of getting stops on the defensive end. They did a good job of overcoming [adversity] and coming out with a win tonight.”

All it took was the clock running out to secure Huntley’s victory with a 15-point lead. All of the varsity players hope this is a good indication of how the rest of the season will go.

“We just need to be confident because we’re a good team,” Ozzuato said. “If we keep playing like this, we’ll be [set].”

Even so, there is no time to rest. Instead of getting comfortable, varsity is expected to keep putting in the work at practice.

“This group has a really high ceiling to improve and I foresee us continuing to get better as the year progresses,” Coach Raethz said. “This has been a really fun group to coach and I think they’re going to continue to put themselves in the position to win many games this year.”