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Huntley's Bryce Only drives past Dundee-Crown's JT Beasley on Saturday. l Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media
A message delivered by Huntley coach Marty Manning after Tuesday’s nonconference road loss to Barrington went a long way toward delivering a standout performance from his team down the stretch Saturday night in a 45-38 Fox Valley Valley victory against visiting Dundee-Crown.
“Coach Manning definitely questioned us after the Barrington game on lack of energy and defensive pressure. We wanted to come out tonight and say ‘you’re wrong coach, we are the team that you think that we are,’” Huntley senior Bryce Only said. “We showed it tonight on the court. When he questions me after playing for four years, it’s definitely a gut check.”
Locked in a tough, physical defensive struggle all night with Dundee-Crown, the Red Raiders refused to let down on the defensive end until the final buzzer after the Chargers had found ways to lead most of the first half while forcing 10 first-half Red Raider turnovers.
“I just thought we weren’t tough in that (Barrington) game,” Manning said. “That’s why we lost — both offensively and defensively. Our guys needed to be a little stronger, a little tougher. They were tonight.”
Huntley 6-foot-7 forward Amanze Egekeze scored five big fourth-quarter points of his 14 total, and hauled down four rebounds, while Only had four fourth-quarter points and three boards to key the late surge. An 11-2 run that started the fourth quarter let the Red Raiders pull away for good.
Huntley forced seven Charger turnovers over the first 6:17 of the fourth quarter to key its stretch run.
“We needed to play good defense, as bad as our offense was, especially in the first half,” Manning said.
The teams were tied at 30 after the third quarter, but Blake Jacobs sank the first of three fourth-quarter rebound buckets by Huntley (11-6, 5-0) to put his team ahead for good, then Egekeze made 1-of-2 free throws.
A layup by Jake Wagner made it 35-32 after D-C’s Cordero Parson had scored, then Only scored on a huge putback. After a D-C turnover, Egekeze scored on a putback for a 39-32 edge that D-C couldn’t overcome.
“With our (lack of) size, they just planted Egekeze right in the paint and it was tough to get something going to the bucket,” Chargers coach Lance Huber said. “Obviously they know (Egekeze’s) back there. They did a good job. We had a miscommunication on a couple passes and it didn’t work out.”
The Chargers (11-5, 2-2) had 15 points from Brandon Rodriguez, but Dylan Kissack was held to two second-half points after drilling three first-half three-pointers.
“We did a phenomenal job on Kissack, no question about it,” Only said. “We toughened up.”
D-C made just 15-of-48 shots from the floor (31 percent) and was outboarded 31-25.
“Their size got to us, I think, a little bit in the fourth quarter,” Huber said. “They got after the rebounds. When you have 5-8 boxing out 6-4, it’s tough to do. “All five of their starters were bigger than our starters at their position.”
HUNTLEY 45, DUNDEE-CROWN 38
Dundee-Crown (11-5, 2-2)
Brandon Rodriguez 6 1-2 15, Dylan Kissack 4 0-0 11, Trent Muscat 1 0-0 2, James Hill-Beasly 3 0-0 8, Jackson Buckley 0 0-0 0, Cordero Parson 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 1-2 38.
Huntley (11-6, 5-0)
Amanze Egekeze 6 1-2 14, Jake Wagner 3 0-0 7, Bryce Only 3 2-4 8, Zach Gorney 2 2-2 7, Blake Jacobs 2 0-1 4, Tommy Regan 1 0-0 2, Riley Wicks 1 0-0 3. Totals 18 5-9 45.
Dundee-Crown 9 10 11 8 -- 38
Huntley 7 11 12 15 -- 45
Three-point field goals: Dundee-Crown (7) -- Rodriguez 2, Kissack 3, Hill-Beasly 2. Huntley (4) -- Egekeze 1, Wagner 1, Gorney 1, Wicks 1.