CRYSTAL LAKE – The Crystal Lake Central girls basketball team knew it had a tall task in containing Huntley’s Andrews sisters.
Central’s Evelyn Youel, at 5-foot-8, was given the difficult task of guarding the Red Raiders’ 6-2 freshman forward Ali Andrews while her versatile sister, 6-0 junior Sam Andrews, stretched the Tigers’ defense by knocking down shots all over the court.
That was only the start of Central’s problems. Huntley’s defensive pressure, especially on the perimeter, helped cause 26 turnovers, including 14 in the first half. The combination of the Andrews sisters, who combined for 38 points, and easy points off turnovers carried Huntley to a 50-32 Fox Valley Conference crossover win on Friday.
“In the first half, I thought collectively we played pretty well defensively,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. “We pressured them into some turnovers and it generated some offense for us. I thought it was a really solid first half, on both ends of the floor.”
Central (6-1) scored on Youel’s layup one minute into the game to take a quick lead, but that would be its only of the game. Huntley (6-1) outscored Central 16-2 the rest of the first quarter, led by the post play of Sam and Ali Andrews.
“I think this team has a lot of potential down the stretch,” Raethz said. “If we keep doing the things that we’ve been doing, we’re going to continue to get better down the stretch of the season. That’s our focus and that’s our goal.”
While the Red Raiders converted their open looks, a stifling defensive effort held the Tigers scoreless which spanned nearly seven minutes in the first half. They held Central to nine points or fewer in each of the first three quarters, allowing the Red Raiders’ lead to swell to 19 points by halftime.
Sam Andrews scored 20 of her game-high 24 points in the first half and finished with six rebounds. Ali Andrews added 14 points with seven rebounds (three offensive) and three blocks.
“Ball pressure is a big part of our defense,” Sam Andrews said. “ ... We have to run through our offense and look for open shots. It’s not always there so we have to look for our guards and kick it out. We have good teamwork and we all depend on each other to knock down shots.”
While the loss snapped their six-game winning streak, Tigers coach Paul Lichtenheld believed it was exactly the learning experience his team needed ahead of FVC Fox Division games beginning next week.
“It came down to the turnovers,” Lichtenheld said. “We were totally out of our comfort zone. We just couldn’t handle the pressure and the angles. They played into our weaknesses so it kind of exposed what we knew – and I think the girls even knew what their weaknesses were – but they really exposed it for the first time.”