CRYSTAL LAKE- A slow start was to be expected between Crystal Lake South and Huntley Wednesday. Both teams hadn’t practiced or played in a game since Saturday due to weather.
Huntley was able to overcome the slow start and hit shots and defend when it mattered most as the Red Raiders picked up a key Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory over the Gators 58-48.
The story on Wednesday was Huntley’s Amanze Egekeze. The Red Raiders star led all scorers with 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Crystal Lake South was able to stay within five to seven points most of the night.
But anytime the Gators would try to get closer, Egekeze was there with a key basket or blocked shot to end any change in momentum. Not only did Egekeze dominate the paint, shooting 64 percent, the senior forward converted nine of his 11 free throw attempts.
“I was able to get to the line and convert most of my foul shots, and that really helped the team out tonight,” said Egekeze. “Give Crystal Lake South a lot of credit. They beat us to the loose balls and made us make a lot of mistakes early on. This was a good win over a good team.”
The Gators (13-6, 2-4 FVC Valley) were able to cut the Huntley lead to just two points in the third quarter, when Huntley (14-4, 6-0) responded with a 12-3 run, capped off by a 3-point basket from senior Kyle Slonka. The Red Raiders would increase the lead in the fourth quarter to as much as 18 points.
Huntley coach Marty Manning was pleased with the way his team played after being away from the game for three days.
“We started off very slow and that was to be expected,” said Manning. “We switched up to a zone defense in the second half and that really seemed to help us. South has a lot of good shooters and, lucky for us, they didn’t hit a lot of shots in the second half. I thought we attacked the basket well and was happy with how we rebounded tonight.”
Huntley dominated the glass with a 32-17 rebounding advantage.
The Gators were balanced on offense with Chad Mahoney, Caleb Johnson, and Josh Friesen each scoring eight points.
Crystal Lake South coach Matt LePage liked the effort by his team.
“We played so hard and defended so well,” said LePage. “We just didn’t hit enough shots, and that is something you need to do to beat a team like Huntley.”