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Kickin’ it with Kyle: Hoops hopes


It seemed like a death sentence, like the knockout blow that ends the upcoming boxer’s career and leaves him lying on the floor, gasping for breath. 

As he sits and spits blood, he realizes that it’s almost over, that all his dreams could be lost. But he’s forgotten one thing:  boxing is not the only path to success.

Huntley’s varsity basketball team is the boxer, and its dreams aren’t lost either.

The knockout blow to the boxer is the injury to junior star Amanze Egekeze, who is out for possibly longer than a month because of knee surgery. Egekeze’s combination of height and skill made him one of the most valuable assets to Huntley basketball last year. He was the team’s leading scorer and set the school record for blocks in a single season with 67. 

And then the boxer’s opponent kicked him one more time, just for good measure.

After facing a knee injury, senior Ryan Craig decided to have surgery in hopes of extending his golf career.  However, it will put him out of commission for his senior basketball season, removing an important staple in this year’s team.

“He was our jack-of-all-trades,” said varsity basketball coach Marty Manning.  “He came off the bench and provided what we needed.”

Tacked onto the recent changes, Huntley also lost Troy Miller, Justin Frederick, and Jake Brock to graduation.  With all these players gone, one has to wonder if the Red Raiders’ basketball season can already be scratched off.

A large chunk of Red Raider fans seem to think so.

The news of Egekeze’s surgery left the school stunned and many people believed the basketball season was over before it began.  The loss of Craig just added to the panic that was created by Egekeze’s injury.

Well, things may seem bad, but the boxer isn’t down and out.  The boxer is now rising with the work it put in earlier.

The addition of various junior players are vital to this year’s team, as stressed by  Manning. 

Jason Shields, Blake Jacobs, and Dan Janus will be some of the members of this incoming group, but Zach Gorney may be the most important addition to the team.  Gorney, the leading scorer and rebounder for the sophomore team last year, may help replace the presence lost with Egekeze.  This may not completely help the boxer get up off the floor, but it may at least help him stay consistent until the return of the potent Egekeze.

Manning agrees.

“If we had to lose these players any year, it would be this year,” said Manning.  “We have lots of upperclassmen and the games may be closer, but I hope there won’t be a significant win-loss difference.”

Perhaps the best news for Huntley is that Egekeze is expected to return before the end of the season.  Although Huntley can push on without him, he still improves the team’s chances to win.

“We’ll be more talented and diverse with Amanze,” said Manning.

Egekeze offers the height and talent the team needs, but the only way for the team to be successful without him is to hone its skills.  That way, the players can hold their own without him, but when he returns, they will be even better overall.

It may seem strange, but the team may actually be able to go further with Egekeze’s injury.  If the team can maintain a good record, it will have a better chance to advance further in the playoffs.

That’s crucial coming off a nearly-flawless season last year, in which Huntley finished 12-0 in conference and 26-4 overall.

That boxer will find that the knockdown punch isn’t the knockout punch.  He will find his footing and, soon enough, he’ll heal and start throwing punches again.

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