CRYSTAL LAKE – All season, the Huntley girls basketball team survived on tough defense and double-digit scoring from senior forward Sam Andrews and sophomore forward Ali Andrews as they pursued another trip downstate.
Boylan decided to test that successful formula head on during Thursday's Class 4A sectional final. Boylan's triangle-and-2 defense was designed to shut down Sam Andrews and Ali Andrews and force the other Red Raiders to beat the Titans.
The plan worked. The Titans caused Huntley to commit 20 turnovers and limited the Andrews sisters' effectiveness. It exposed the Red Raiders' weakness of reliable and consistent secondary scoring which helped Boylan build a 20-point lead in the third quarter en route to a 54-39 win.
The loss snapped the Red Raiders' 15-game winning streak and left them two victories shy of a second consecutive appearance in the state finals.
"Their defense was pretty good, and we couldn't handle it," Sam Andrews said. "We needed to play better as a team and clean up on turnovers."
Boylan (27-4) scored 23 points in the third quarter to turn a four-point halftime lead into a 41-25 advantage heading into the fourth. Huntley (27-4) had held the Titans to only five points in the second quarter but couldn't replicate that success in the third when Boylan scored the first eight points to take a 12-point lead.
"[Boylan] flat out outplayed us in the second half," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "The run they made to start the third quarter was very difficult to overcome. We were just climbing uphill from there and it kind of snowballed on us."
Boylan led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, and Huntley didn't have the firepower to overcome it. Sam Andrews finished with a team-high 13 points, going 11 for 16 at the free-throw line. Huntley also got double-digit production from Ali Andrews (12 points) and sophomore guard Kayla Barreto (10 points), however the rest of the Red Raiders combined for four points.
For Huntley seniors Sam Andrews, Bethany Zornow and Rachel Zobott, they end their careers as the most successful senior class in program history, having compiled a 53-12 record the past two seasons.
"It's weird that I'm not going to be playing with my sister [Sam] any more," Ali Andrews said. "We're going to have to keep working hard over the offseason and get better. Now we know what we can do, so we have to keep working harder every day in order to get back to where we came today."
Boylan dominated the first quarter to take a 13-4 lead after Huntley managed only two field goals in the quarter, both from Ali Andrews, and were held scoreless for the final 5:25. The Red Raiders finally scored three minutes into the second quarter, snapping an eight-minute drought, to trail the Titans by 10 points.
Huntley’s defense buckled down in the second quarter to give the Red Raiders a chance at erasing the double-digit deficit. The Red Raiders limited the Titans to one field goal over the final 6:30 of the second during which they forced five Boylan turnovers.
Barreto gave Huntley a big boost before the half, knocking down a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left. For as poorly as the Red Raiders played in the first half, committing 10 turnovers and shooting 3 for 8 at the free throw line, Boylan only led by four at halftime, 18-14. However, Huntley wasn't able to pull any closer in the second half.
"It was our defense that won the game," Boylan coach Paul Perrone said. "The triangle defense was tremendous. It worked because the girls hustled, and they shifted really well in the zone."