HEBRON – Huntley’s Amanze Egekeze waited to check in with 5:00 remaining when he got a message from Marian Central coach Curtis Price.
“Coach Price said, ‘I don’t like losing,’ ” Egekeze said. “I wanted to go back in and be aggressive. It’s just an all-star game, but I wanted to win, too.”
Egekeze hit a big 3-pointer, grabbed five more rebounds and sealed the outcome with two free throws with 8 seconds remaining as the "Home" team defeated "Away," 95-90, in the McHenry County Area All-Star Basketball Extravaganza boys game Sunday at Alden-Hebron’s Tigard Gymnasium.
Egekeze scored a game-high 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and hit four 3s to lead the Home. Egekeze, a 6-foot-8 forward headed to NCAA Division I Belmont, won the dunk contest before the game when he leaped over Marian’s 5-7 guard Derreck Caldez. Egekeze also took home the game’s MVP award.
“I knew it was going to be fun, but I didn’t know it would be this much fun,” Egekeze said. “I met a lot of nice guys here.”
The Home led by 16 after some blazing-hot shooting early in the game and held a 47-37 halftime lead. But the Away team rallied in the second half behind its 3-point shooting. Hampshire’s Ryan Cork hit five 3s, four in the second half, and finished with a team-high 15 points.
Cork helped the Away to a 74-66 lead midway through the second half. Woodstock North’s Junior Ortiz hit two 3s for the Home as it rallied back, and Egekeze hit a 3 to start the Home’s 15-5 run that closed the game.
“I didn’t know [Egekeze] could shoot that well,” Price said. “He’ll do a good job at the next level with what he can do.”
Price used three guards – Caldez, Grayslake Central’s Malcolm Reed, Dundee-Crown’s Cordero Parson – in the final minutes so they could spread the floor and drive to the basket. Caldez’s layup gave the Home a 90-89 lead, and Reed’s layup, off a behind-the-back pass from Caldez, made it 93-89.
Huntley’s Zach Gorney scored 13 for the home, and Caldez added 10, including a pair of 3s.
“We did really well and started jelling more as a team late in the game,” Gorney said. “Amanze really took over. He really wanted to win bad.”
McHenry’s Greg Johnson scored nine points, and Marengo’s Andrew Volkening added eight for the Away team.
“We made some shots after they got ahead early,” said Marengo coach Will Benson, who coached the Away team. “I haven’t seen Amanze play that often. His ability to shoot, with his size, is impressive. He has a good future ahead of him.”