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There may not be an “official” overall champion in the Fox Valley Conference, but on Friday night the Fox Division co-champions, Crystal Lake Central, made it pretty clear who was the best team.
The Tigers crushed host Huntley 54-37 in the first-place crossover game. Central had already beaten the Red Raiders earlier this season. The Tigers also have two wins over Hampshire, the team they tied with atop the Fox Division, by a combined 42 points.
“To be able to come in here and beat a team like (Huntley) is quite an accomplishment,” said Central coach Rich Czeslawski. “They have set the standard in this league the past few years. You know you have played a good game when you are able to beat them.”
The Tigers (24-3) were in the flow from the very beginning as they jumped out to a 14-2 lead and never looked back. Central shot 23-of-34 (68 percent) from the field through the first three quarters and led 49-25 heading into the fourth quarter. At one stretch late in the first quarter and the start of the second quarter the Tigers hit eight straight shots.
“People will look at the stats and say we shot the lights out,” said Czeslawski. “But we really we just hit the shots we should make. We were in a real good rhythm and didn’t force anything. This is a real good dress rehearsal to get ready for the regionals. The atmosphere was great and that’s what these crossovers games are really all about.”
Point guard Brad Knoeppel led a balanced attack for the Tigers with a team-high 17 points. David Panicko added 12 points and Corban Murphy finished with 11.
“This was definitely our best overall game of the year,” said Knoeppel. “It all starts with the defense. That was our main focus tonight. That helps our scoring too. Everybody was hitting shots tonight.”
In stark contrast Huntley (17-8) was ice cold from the field, shooting just 14-of-46 (30 percent). The Red Raiders made just 1-of-10 to start the game.
“We certainly could have played better,” said Huntley coach Marty Manning. “But make no doubt about, they were just flat out better than us.”
Amanze Egekeze had 12 points to lead Huntley in scoring.