HUNTLEY – Ali Andrews knew better than to take Crystal Lake South lightly.
The Gators had taken out Fox Valley Conference Valley Division foe Cary-Grove the week before, but her Huntley girls basketball team was ready, and staked its claim at the top of the conference with a 56-32 win over South on Tuesday.
“This is a big win, because [South] came off a win over Cary-Grove by two [points], and so they were very confident,” the freshman said. “We knew we would have to go hard.”
Andrews led all scorers with 19 points, and junior sister Samantha Andrews added 16 points on a trio of 3-pointers and 7-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line and eight rebounds to keep the Red Raiders (9-2 overall, 3-0 FVC Valley) undefeated in conference play.
For Huntley, it was a sort of homecoming – its last home game was its season opener Nov. 13.
“It was nice to get back at home, and get a home win, especially from a conference standpoint against a quality team like South,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said.
The Gators (7-4, 1-1) were led by sophomores Kianna Clark (10 points) and Carly Nolan (six), who led eight South scorers
Huntley restricted standout junior forward Sara Mickow to only two buckets and four points and forced 21 South turnovers, but the Gators didn’t shy away from going inside. They attempted only one 3-pointer.
“Anything we could do to get inside of their defense to try and get some easy baskets is going to help,” South coach Kyle McCaughn said. “But you’re going up against a couple of 6-footers, and they had a couple of blocks.”
Clark responded to a straightaway 3 from Sam Andrews that opened the scoring by picking up a bobbled pass in the lane for a layup that brought South to within a point, 3-2, early in the game.
Then the Red Raiders went on a 9-2 run that gave them a buffer that wouldn’t relent.
Even a 3:59 scoring drought to start the second quarter didn’t seem to bother the Red Raiders. Ali Andrews buried a 3 with 4:01 left, and senior Haley Ream (six points) scored on the next possession to keep the momentum.
“I thought that we ran our offense a little bit more efficiently, but overall our collective defensive effort was really solid,” Raethz said. “Especially in the first half when we had some lulls offensively, we still were able to maintain that 10-point cushion.”
After Nolan pulled down an offense rebound for a putback with 6:13 to go in the third quarter, Huntley put the pedal down with a 12-2 run and didn’t look back.
McCaughn credited Huntley with dismantling his team’s defense.
“They worked the ball around real well,” McCaughn said. “You can tell that they’ve been working on that. ... They went out and earned it, and we just couldn’t match their intensity and their physicality. They bounced us all over the floor.”