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On a night when points were hard to come by, Huntley relied on its defense and free-throw shooting to pull away for a 46-39 win over host Jacobs in each team’s Fox Valley Valley opener on Friday.
During a back-and-forth game through the better part of the three quarters, Huntley (4-1, 1-0) finally seized control in the fourth, hitting 9 of 11 free throws in the frame and finishing 16-for-18 from the line for the game.
“We shot terrific from the free-throw line. I think we’re 83 percent as team,” Huntley coach Marty Manning said. “It’s one of the things that alleviate the pressure when you’re not shooting well. It’s almost frustrating, shooting so well from the line then not being able to hit our shots.”
The Red Raiders’ prowess from the line helped overcome a 35 percent (13-for-37) shooting performance from the field.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles (0-4, 0-1) faired even worse, hitting just 17 of 52 (33 percent) from the floor and going 1-for-5 from the line.
“(Huntley) played solid defense and made their free throws,” Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle said. “It certainly was a winnable game, but I thought they played the more physical brand. When there were scrums, they came away with the ball a lot more than we did.”
Tied at 19 at the break, Jacobs took its largest lead early in the third quarter when a basket by Lake Ojo (6 points) put the Eagles up 24-21. However, Huntley immediately responded with a 12-2 run thanks to consecutive three-pointers from TJ Adams (8 points), Blake Jacobs and Jake Wagner, followed by an old-fashioned three-point play from Bryce Only (8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals).
Jacobs fought its way back and cut the deficit to 34-32 early in the fourth, but Huntley distanced itself for good — going on an 8-0 run to put the game away.
“We struggled in the first half putting the ball in the basket. We had open shots, we just weren’t hitting them,” said Wagner. “We slowed things down in the second half but wanted to get to the basket and draw some more aggressive fouls.”
Wagner finished with a team-high 13 points and six rebounds. Junior Zach Gorney added 10 points for Huntley.
A bright spot for Jacobs was sophomore Chrishawn Orange, who finished with a game-high 16 points and four rebounds.
“Our sophomore played well,” Hinkle said. “He looks like he’s gonna be a real good player.”