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Huntley's Samantha Andrews (left) hugs teammate Haley Ream after the Red Raiders defeated Streamwood on Thursday to claim the Rockford East Sectional title. | Erik Anderson~For Sun-Times Media

Huntley claimed the school’s first sectional title on Thursday night, besting Streamwood 45-41 in the Class 4A Rockford East Sectional final.

Both teams came out with some clear nerves, and it remained scoreless for the first 3:32 of the game. Once the two teams got going, though, it was a fight the entire way.

The Sabres (22-9) built a 7-5 lead through one quarter, but were outscored 12-4 in the second quarter as the Red Raiders (25-6) took a 17-11 advantage into the break.

“To be able to hold them to 11 points at the half is outstanding, and finally things started to loosen up for us offensively in the second half,” said Huntley coach Steve Raethz.

A 6-2 run to open the second half gave the Raiders what would be their biggest lead of the night, as a Bethany Zornow basket made it 23-13 Huntley, but the game was far from over.

The Sabres chipped away at the deficit and managed to pull within two when Jessica Cerda opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play to make it 28-26.

That’s as close as Streamwood would get. Despite a 12-point fourth quarter from Cerda, the Raiders managed to hold on for the victory.

The sectional matchup marked the second time this season the two teams have met. Huntley came away with a 52-42 victory on Nov. 17 at the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving tournament.

In that game, sisters Sam and Ali Andrews did the bulk of the damage for Huntley with 41 of the team’s points. This time around though, the team got a much more balanced attack offensively.

Sam Andrews led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Ali had a solid game as well with eight points and five rebounds.

However, Haley Ream gave the team a huge boost with 14 points and seven rebounds, providing a much-needed third scoring option.

“I thought Haley Ream just played an outstanding game tonight on both ends of the floor, just did so many positive things for us, and she really stepped up as a senior tonight and led us,” said Raethz.

Streamwood was led by Cerda, who tallied a game-high 20 points and hit five three-pointers. However, the rest of the “big three” in Deja Moore and Hannah McGlone was relatively quiet.

Moore had six points and five steals and Zornow played her tight defensively all night, while McGlone had eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks. The junior McGlone will be back next season, but for Cerda and Moore the loss marks the end of their impressive careers at Streamwood.

“Those three were a great threesome and it’s going to be tough to lose two of them,” said Streamwood coach George Rosner. “Hannah will be back though, and we’ve got some kids who can pick it up for us so we feel like we can certainly still play well next year.”

While Streamwood’s season has come to an end, things are far from over for Huntley, as it advances to face Wheaton Warrenville South (29-3) on Monday at the Dundee-Crown Supersectional at 7:30 p.m.

“What a win for our program,” Raethz said. “It’s been an absolute privilege to coach these kids all year and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

“This next one is going to be one heck of a game and a very, very tough test, but what an opportunity for us.”

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