HUNTLEY – All season long, the Cary-Grove girls basketball team had pointed toward Saturday night, knowing perhaps its stiffest road test of the season could go a long way in determining the Trojans’ FVC Valley championship hopes.
But C-G also realized containing Huntley’s dangerous duo of Samantha and Ali Andrews would factor greatly in if the Trojans could take the big step they hoped. So it came as no surprise when C-G’s defense spelled the difference in a 42-33 C-G win that created a two-way tie for first place between the Trojans and Red Raiders with six games left to play in the conference season.
The Trojans held Huntley scoreless for the first 7:13 of the third quarter and then relied on senior Olivia Jakubicek for a series of second-half timely baskets to notch perhaps their biggest win of the season to date.
“We knew this was going to be the game of our conference,” said Jakubicek, who scored a game-high 21 points to pace C-G. “We really wanted to show up and we knew what we needed to do to beat them.
“So I’m really proud of how we showed up.”
But early on, two key components of the Trojans’ game plan didn’t go as planned. Between early struggles to score and then to rebound, C-G (12-6 overall, 5-1 FVC Valley) trailed at the half.
That all changed in the second half, though, when the Trojans threw a variety of defenses at Huntley (14-4, 5-1), not allowing either Andrews sister to get the shots she wanted and forcing the Red Raiders into a host of turnovers that kept Huntley off-kilter.
Huntley didn’t score until Ali Andrews forced a steal and broke away for a layup with 47 seconds remaining in the quarter. The basket cut C-G’s lead to 22-19, but Jakubicek responded immediately, converting on a three-point play to push the cushion back to six – an advantage the Red Raiders never made a dent in the rest of the night.
“We struggled to score for a stretch there and we had a few costly turnovers and (C-G) was able to capitalize,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. “We just didn’t make the plays we needed to.”
The Trojans’ defense had a lot to do with it. C-G weak-side defenders provided help in the post against Ali Andrews (eight points) and kept Samantha Andrews (16) from getting the kind of offensive looks she has been accustomed to all season.
And with Huntley’s top two scorers unable to produce, the Trojans turned missed Red Raiders opportunities into chances of their own. C-G went to a spread offense in the second half, building a lead that grew to as many as 11 points, mainly because of Jakubicek, who hit 11 of 12 free throws.
For the game, C-G finished 13 of 14 from the line, capping a win that makes the Feb. 2 meeting at Cary-Grove even more meaningful.
“We knew it was a big game,” Trojans coach Rod Saffert said. “But it’s a big deal to come over here (and win), so this is a tremendous confidence boost.”