BELVIDERE – Huntley girls basketball players Haley Ream and Sam Andrews could be seen yelling, but no sounds came out. Well, there probably was, but their cries were drowned out by the Red Raiders’ fans as the two were presented with the Class 4A Belvidere North Regional championship plaque at the scorers table.
The Red Raiders started fast and never let up in a 60-41 win over host Belvidere North. Huntley advances to the Rockford East Sectional to face Harlem in a semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We knew going into this regional that it was going to be extremely difficult with the quality of teams, and I’m so proud of the effort they gave these past two games, especially with the balance we played with tonight,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said.
Huntley had four players score in double-digits, including Ali Andrews with 14, Ream (12) and Bethany Zornow (11) while playing stifling defense against the Blue Thunder.
Belvidere North had solid interior passing, but Ali Andrews led a defense that had its rotations down perfectly.
“Defensively, we did a really nice job stopping their dribble-drive and dribble-penetration,” Raethz said. “Collectively our defensive effort was really solid, we did a great job of plugging up gaps and offensively we moved the basketball really well.”
Ali and Sam Andrews kicked off the scoring for Huntley, helping the Red Raiders get off to a 7-0 start before the first timeout at 5:37. Then Haley Ream hit a 3-pointer followed by a layup that pushed the score to 12-2 as Belvidere North called another timeout.
“We all believe in each other,” Sam Andrews said after scoring a game-high 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half. “It’s really exciting when we can play like that. We knew they were a good team and we had to come out strong. We knew nothing was going to be handed to us so we had to take it.”
The Red Raiders scored no less than 13 points in a quarter.
The Blue Thunder gave Huntley a scare with foul trouble late in the first half. Belvidere North went on a little run and crawled back to a 18-10 deficit but that was as close as they got.
Sam Andrews kept the Red Raiders on task as she continued to hit big shot after big shot all while scoring 13 points before her first miss. The senior hit back-to-back 3s to push the lead back to 14 and her sister Ali put on a post-move clinic underneath the basket as she scored six points in less than two minutes to further the lead.
“Whenever [Belvidere North] made runs at us we did a good job of stopping that by creating a run of our own,” Raethz said.
“It’s was one of our main team goals that we’ve been working on all season long,” Sam Andrews said of advancing out of their regional. “We know that it will still take lots of hard work from here on out but it’s exciting.”