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Whitney Young beats out Huntley for the Class 4A third place title

Junior Sam Andrews attempts a layup.
Junior Sam Andrews attempts a layup.

Huntley awoke from its story-tale dream on Saturday night when it collided a vengeance-hungry Whitney Young team in the Class 4A Third-Place Game.

Reality struck when the Dolphins dove at Huntley’s offense and converted 24 points off of turnovers.

They were huge,” said Whitney Young head coach Corry Irvin. “We thought we could force them to turn the ball over and I thought that we did a good job of that.”

The Raiders (26-8) quickly fell behind All-American Linnae Harper (27 points, eight rebounds) and the Dolphins in a 60-27 defeat, the third-best defensive performance for the Dolphins this season.

“There was a stretch there in the first half when we weren’t getting very good possessions and they were just going the other way with them,” said Huntley head coach Steve Raethz. “That’s a recipe for some not very positive things to happen.”

The Dolphins, who were stunned after being blown out by Rolling Meadows on Friday night, knew they had to enter the game as a poised team.

We couldn’t let yesterday’s game affect us today. We just came out, played hard. Linnae

“I told them that it’s not like we had an undefeated season and every game we lost this year, we lost by not following our game plan and it was over with,” Irvin said. “There’s not much you can do in life to go back, so I told them that you just have to try and finish today on a higher note.”

The higher note was out rebounding Huntley and stunning its offense, which only scored nine points in the first quarter.  That tone was set by Harper, who will play at the University of Kentucky next fall.

“I was focused today,” she said. “I didn’t really want to end my season with a loss.”

Huntley will hold onto it’s storybook season, though, as it sets a new precedent for its girls basketball program.

Concerned members of Raider Nation look onto the game.
Concerned members of Raider Nation look onto the game.

“This team has set the bar higher for our program,” Raethz said. Up to this point, we’ve only won regional titles and to do what this team did with a sectional title, a super-sectional, and brining home the Class 4A fourth-place trophy is unbelievable.”

Raethz stressed that the two losses don’t necessarily mean that Huntley should be disappointed in itself.

“These two losses can’t define who we are and what we’ve been about,” Raethz said. “This team has been about the environment of team and chemistry and togetherness.”

The center of that toughness was senior guard Haley Ream, who emerged from the locker room teary and red-eyed after a bittersweet finish.

“I’ve had a great four years here and…making it this far is a great opportunity,” she said, “and I couldn’t be more thankful to end my senior year like this.”

Ream will be a tough component of Huntley’s unit to replace, but the Raiders return four starters and those players remaining look to  exceed expectations once again.

“It definitely gave us drive,” said junior forward Sam Andrews (six points, five rebounds). “You look at the talent out there and it makes us want to be better.”

Improving is next on Huntley’s list on things to do for next year. After that, it’s replicating the story-tale they told over the past three weeks.

“It’s been an amazing experience these last three days,” Raethz said, “and I’m glad that our kids have had an opportunity to go through it because it’s something they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives.”

Photos by Mike Krebs/The Voice

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Marek Makowski, Author
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