NORMAL – Huntley girls basketball coach Steve Raethz recognized it was a team effort that led the Red Raiders to their program's first state appearance.
Raethz made it his goal for every player to enjoy the historic opportunity. Near the end of Huntley’s losses against Rolling Meadows and Whitney Young, Raethz emptied the bench to give each Red Raider a chance to play at Redbird Arena. Huntley’s 12 dressed players logged at least a minute in each game while six different Red Raiders scored at least two points over the weekend.
The gesture didn’t go unnoticed. Some of Saturday’s loudest cheers against Whitney Young came on senior forward Haley Sabie’s three-point play with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
“What a great opportunity this has been to be in the final four and we talked about making it an experience for our entire team,” Raethz said. “That’s what we wanted. We wanted to get some of our bench players who haven’t had an opportunity to play yet, had an opportunity to get in.”
A pep assembly will be held at 2 p.m. today in the Huntley gymnasium to congratulate and recognize the Red Raiders’ fourth-place finish in Class 4A.
Equal production: It was no secret junior forward Sam Andrews and freshman forward Ali Andrews would be the focal points of Huntley’s offense during the state finals.
After all, the sisters alternated in leading the Red Raiders in scoring the previous 32 games and not surprisingly, they were Huntley’s top two scorers against Rolling Meadows and Whitney Young.
But remarkably, after 34 games, Sam Andrews and Ali Andrews each finished the season with exactly 535 points (15.7 points per game). Rolling Meadows was the only other state qualifying team in any of the four classes to have two teammates score as many points as the Andrews (Jackie Kemph and Alexis Glasgow, 642 and 583 points, respectively).
“It’s amazing,” Raethz said. “It’s eerie just how, from a statistical standpoint, how close they were throughout the season. Those two kids, Ali and Sam, not only are they great basketball players but they’re great, coachable kids. They had outstanding seasons. We’re so fortunate and happy to have them come back.”
Tough job: Being Huntley's best perimeter defender brings some tough assignments – just ask senior guard Haley Ream.
In the Red Raiders’ final three games of the season, Ream was in charge of trying to shut down Wheaton Warrenville South’s Meghan Waldron, Rolling Meadows’ Alexis Glasgow and Whitney Young’s Linnae Harper. All three players are headed to Division I programs. Waldron and Glasgow, both juniors, are committed to DePaul and Northwestern, respectively, while Harper, a senior, has signed with Kentucky.
“It gives me a challenge,” Ream said. “Going into every game I have one of their best players. Every game I go in with a challenge to try and do the best I can to contain them. … With [Harper] it was trying to stop the ball and not let her score.”