HUNTLEY – Huntley big man Amanze Egekeze drew most of the attention of Prairie Ridge’s zone defense for 3 1/2 quarters, and his teammates responded accordingly.
The Red Raiders were red-hot behind the 3-point line, hitting 8 of 12 in the first half and 11 for the game.
Egekeze, a 6-foot-8 senior headed to NCAA Division I Belmont, then had his moment, leading a late flurry as Huntley defeated Prairie Ridge, 59-47, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division boys basketball game Saturday.
“It was tough getting anything, I didn’t get a lot of touches in there,” Egekeze said. “Luckily we had guys knocking down shots in the first half. We have guys who can shoot and we had to hit them tonight to get that lead.”
Huntley (10-4 overall, 3-0 FVC Valley) led 47-41 midway through the fourth quarter when Egekeze helped the Raiders seize control. He blocked Wolves guard Michael Bradshaw’s shot on a drive to the basket, then, on the other end, made a drop step and pivoted into the lane for a 6-footer.
On Prairie Ridge’s next possession, guard Blake Jacobs tossed a loose ball high as it was headed out of bounds and Egekeze swooped in to grab it, then whipped a no-look pass to Zach Gorney for a layup. Gorney scored inside on Huntley’s next two possessions for a 55-41 lead.
Before that, 11 of Huntley’s 17 field goals had been 3s. Forward Riley Wicks, who led Huntley with five 3s and 17 points, said they were motivated after Prairie Ridge (9-8, 1-3) wiped out a 32-22 lead with the first 12 points of the second half.
“We took it personally and wanted to get every loose ball,” Wicks said.
Huntley, which won its fifth consecutive game, made 11 of 20 3s and outrebounded the Wolves, 31-15.
“The shooting, I’ll take that,” Prairie Ridge coach Corky Card said. “It’s difficult to win games from the arc. It got them the lead, but what hurt us was offensive rebounds. They just outscrapped us. They got loose balls and offensive rebounds. Spurts come and go, but you have to be even in loose balls and rebounds.”
Egekeze finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Wicks was 6 for 9 from the field for his career-best in 3s and tying his season-high for points.
“If we wouldn’t have made all those shots, it could have been a very different story,” Huntley coach Marty Manning said. “We knew their zone gives you open looks from the 3-point line and they’d be worried about Amanze inside. We needed to knock down open shots.”
Huntley built a 32-22 lead at halftime, but the Wolves came out hot in the second half and briefly took a lead before Egekeze hit a jumper and freshman Jack Bessey nailed a 3 to give the Raiders the lead for good.
“We let them slip away from us in the third quarter,” said Wolves forward Ryan Gilbert, who scored 12 points. “We let it slip away and they were getting the looks they wanted inside with Egekeze and Gorney.”
Bradshaw led all players with 20 points and hit three 3s.