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Huntley's Sam Andrews (40) lays up a shot as she drives to the basket during the fourth quarter of their game at Huntley High School Tuesday. November 13, 2012. The Red Raiders beat Bartlett 67-29. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Huntley and the Andrews sisters, Sam and Ali, stumbled in their Fox Valley Valley showdown with Cary-Grove on Saturday, but the Red Raiders have been the type of team all year to learn quickly and recover.
The Red Raiders (15-4) haven’t had a losing streak yet. Still tied for first place with Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South, the Red Raiders quickly bounced back from that loss by routing McHenry and have a big rematch Wednesday in the FVC against a South team they routed earlier 56-32. A rematch with Cary-Grove does not occur until the final regular-season game Feb. 2.
“I like where we’re headed,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. “Definitely this is the time right time now where we’ve got to start elevating our game, and especially with the conference stretch here, you want to put yourself in a position not only to contend for a conference title but also play well down the stretch of the season so you’re ready for the postseason, as well. That’s a long ways away yet, but we’re obviously working toward those two goals.”
The key for Huntley has been the one-two punch provided by Sam, the junior, and her freshman sister. Ali has broken onto the scene as the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 points per game, averaging 7.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 steals. At least as impressive, she’s shooting 86 percent at the foul line. Her sister can pretty much do the same, and did with 28 against Prairie Ridge this week. She averages 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and is at 83 percent from the line.
“It’s a tough one-two punch,” Dundee-Crown coach Michelle Russell said of the duo. “It’s going to be that way for the next couple years with those guys.”
The key for the sisters offensively has been an offense that leaves either one in position down low to score, with the other at the point getting the pass down to her sister. Both are versatile despite being over 6 feet tall.
“It’s (the high-low), kind of a team effort,” Ali said. “We have to rotate the offense, and once we have a couple passes it starts to work.
“I like to make the assist to Sam. It’s a lot of fun for us.”
Added Sam: “Both of us like either part of it — scoring it or making the pass, whatever is best for the team.”
Coaches have tried different ways to handle the two in the half-court attack. One way has been to double-team both and try to make the other players do the job.
That might work, except senior Haley Ream, who averages 5.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and shoots 83 percent at the line is always a threat, as well.
“We see Haley defensively as a role player with our team,” Sam said. “She can look to score, and definitely has been big with rebounds and making steals (2.0 per game). She does whatever it takes.”
Huntley plays seven games over the next two weeks, and gets to escape the Fox Valley Conference area for its regional at Belvidere with the hosts, DeKalb and Rockford East and Jefferson.
Savanah Uveges’ return from knee surgery takes the next step Saturday when the Storm plays a 2:30 p.m. Upstate Eight Valley game against rival Bartlett. The Storm had hoped to break through against the Hawks earlier in the season, but didn’t have Uveges then.
Having her back has changed the outlook for the Storm quite a bit. Earlier in the month, coach Tim Prendergast had called his team’s winning record a “mirage,” because they’d beaten only winless or one-win teams. With their all-around threat back, it’s different.
“I knew it would be somewhat of a struggle getting to this point without Savanah, but now that she’s back — and it looks like she’s BACK — I’m looking forward to the rest of the season knowing that we’ve got the tournament coming up in February and all that good stuff,” he said.
While South Elgin faces Bartlett with a player back in the lineup, it’s the player who’s not going to be there that could benefit Streamwood when it faces St. Charles East in a rematch at St. Charles East Tuesday. Paige Jordan, the Saints, guard, quit the team late last month due to problems with some teammates and because she wants to focus more on her golf game — she’s planning to play college golf.
When the Saints beat Streamwood earlier 61-50, Jordan had 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
The Saints are 3-2 since losing Jordan, including a loss to Batavia that dropped them into a tie for first with the Sabres.
Westminster Christian figured to be a deadly three-point team coming into the season after making over 100 three-pointers last year and returning almost the entire team. However, coach Ken Flickinger has been wondering where the threes are this year.
He’s not now, after his team won the Elgin City Classic prior to taking on Christian Liberty Friday night (home, 6 p.m.) in what could be a conference clincher.
“It seems like they’re coming around,” he said. “It was just getting in the gym after (Christmas) and working at their shots.”
Junior guard McKaila Hays, in particular, seems to have come around.
“She’d been off a little bit the last month or so, I would say, by her standards,” Flickinger said.
She hit 11 three-pointers in the Elgin tournament and tried only one in the title-clincher against the Maroons.
“I’ve been in a shooting slump for the three-pointers this whole season pretty much,” Hays said. “So I haven’t shot them very much. But over the tournament I feel like I’ve sort of gotten my swing back.”
After playing what would be the first girls conference title clincher in school history, Westminster has some ideal games to get ready for Class 1A regional play. The Warriors play at 838-enrollment Evergreen Park Monday and Jan. 29 host 2A power Ottawa Marquette.
Westminster is host for a 1A sectional and plays in the Harvest Christian Regional. Postseason tournament seeds for 1A and 2A are set to be released Thursday and pairings Friday by the IHSA.
For larger schools, seeds will be out Jan. 24 and pairings Jan. 25.