The team was split in half for a scrimmage Saturday afternoon during the Huntley boys basketball practice. Bryce Only's squad wore black jerseys with dark red numbers. The other half wore home whites.
As time expired, the senior point guard drove to the basket, stopped, pivoted then scored on a fadeaway 12-foot jumper.
"You realize why you lost right, White?" Red Raiders coach Marty Manning rhetorically asked after the drill as the teams blended in a huddle. "Because Bryce scored all of their points."
Manning said he would joke with Only, as a freshman, about having "one of the ugliest shots I've seen." So it wasn't a surprise when Only made Huntley's varsity basketball roster for other reasons, including his defense.
"The first drill we did with him his freshman year, we did a defensive lane slide, zig-zag drill," Manning said. "He busted his hump through the whole drill, and I asked him to make one small change, which he did, and all of a sudden he was our best defensive player in the program and It didn't take long at all."
That athleticism is why Only is headed to Nebraska on a baseball scholarship.
"Baseball is most definitely my first love," Only said. "I spend all of my time, when I'm not here in the gym or doing school work, at the cages hitting."
When asked if he ever feels tired or burnt out because of his no-rest lifestyle, he just shrugs it off and attributes his competitive drive to the early lessons he learned from his father.
When Only was a young boy, he and his dad would go to the local YMCA and practice basketball. Shooting drills, dribbling and passing.
"He had me doing drills every day starting at the age of 6," Only said with a laugh as he remembered the sessions with his dad. "We just did drills all the time until I was in fourth grade, and I wanted to play baseball. I didn't go back to playing basketball until seventh grade.
"We had tryouts at the middle school and I was terrified because I hadn't picked up the basketball in so long and I didn't think I was going to make the team but I was fortunate enough to make the team and be able to play and I am still fortunate enough to continue playing."
This season, the 6-foot-1 senior leads the team in just about every statistical category. He leads them in shooting percentage (55.3 percent), rebounds (46), steals (13) and assists (2.5) and is second on the team with 52 points through five games – Jake Wagner has scored 54.
The Red Raiders entered the season with high aspirations, but injuries to key players such as 6-foot-7 Amanze Egekeze and guard Tommy Regan have made it difficult.
Egekeze has been sidelined since the beginning of the season after undergoing knee surgery. His return date is set for Jan. 8 – a game against Crystal Lake South – but he needs to be cleared the day before. Egekeze will start practice a week earlier. And Regan, who suffered a broken finger in his non-shooting hand in a practice last week, has missed the past two games.
On Nov. 24, Only scored a game-high 20 points in a win over Hoffman Estates, including a third-quarter buzzer-beater to tie the game. And he played a large role on the defensive end in shutting down the Hawks' top shooters – holding them to two points in the fourth quarter.
On Dec. 7, Only turned in one of his most complete games of the season in a 46-39 win over Jacobs. He scored eight points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added four steals.
"He's a really good player. He's really tough," Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle said. "When they add Amanze (Egekeze), they're going to be special. Right now, Only carries them."
Huntley's injured big-man agrees.
"The progress he has made offensively each year is just great," Egekeze said. "He's taking it to another level this year by attacking the boards and playing with this aggressiveness that I haven't seen from him before."