HUNTLEY – Bethany Zornow followed her defensive assignment through a screen and jumped in front of a pass intended for Dundee-Crown's Stephanie Magsamen. The Huntley junior took her steal down the court for a basket in the first quarter.
"I absolutely love defense," said Zornow, who finished with seven steals and seven points. "It gets me fired up, and I get really excited when I can take control."
It was a scene that played over and over for the Red Raiders in their 66-33 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division win over the visiting Chargers.
Huntley coach Steve Raethz wanted to start the game aggressively and opened the first quarter with a full-court press.
"We just couldn't handle that press," D-C coach Michelle Russell said. The Chargers committed eight turnovers in the first quarter. "When they had their press on I think we panicked and they got a lot of steals because of it."
Huntley's aggressive game plan forced the Chargers into 18 total turnovers.
The Red Raiders (14-3 overall, 5-0 FVC Valley) opened the game on a 14-0 run, which was paced by both Sam and Ali Andrews. The sisters combined for 14 points in the first quarter, and seven players were able to get involved and score points in the first.
"For us that's where it started," Raethz said of his press defense in the first quarter. "It generated some turnovers for us and it got us in a nice flow offensively and the kids did a nice job collectively throughout our press defense."
After jumping out to a 28-2 lead at the end of the first, the Red Raiders backed off the press which resulted in playing a more traditional half court offense. It was then when Ali Andrews' size became evident to the Chargers' defenders as Huntley's 6-foot-2 center constantly had two or more players on her though she was able to score 14 points.
At one point she had four Chargers encircling her underneath the basket, something she says is, "frustrating but I've learned to get over it."
Without facing a press, the Chargers (2-14, 0-4) outscored the Red Raiders in both the second and fourth quarters behind solid shooting from Emily Michalski, who scored a team-high 12 points. Jillian Wiechmann added seven points.
The victory was a complete one for Huntley as it looks to perfect its play with nine games remaining in the regular season and with an FVC Valley test coming Saturday against Cary-Grove.
"Today our kids came out with purpose, and that's what we like to see," Raethz said. "Every conference game is important, and we have a big one on Saturday. It is just one game, but it's an important one because they are just one game behind us in the conference standings.
"I like where we are headed especially after tonight and its time to elevate our game even higher for the stretch of conference games."