By Mark Maxwell
Make no mistake about it, the Huntley girls basketball team is aiming for their first Fox Valley conference championship.
Red Raiders players and coaches are riding a tremendous 10-0 start to the season on their way into the meat of their schedule.
“One of our top goals this year is to win conference,” said Sam Andrews, senior forward and leading scorer. “We have to go through Cary Grove, Crystal Lake South and [Prairie Ridge]. Those are going to be some tough games. If we work through it, we'll get the job done.”
Shooting guard Bethany Zornow has enjoyed the early success in her senior season, but her focus is still on improving and taking her team to that next level of competition.
“We're off to a good start right now but we're still looking to keep on going and keep on doing what we're doing,” Zornow said. “We want to keep on working towards postseason. I mean, that's always our goal. But we really want to win a conference title this year and that's our main goal for now. But we've just been working well together as a team and working on little things here and there and getting better as a team as more games progress.”
While last season ended in a disappointing loss to Whitney Young in the 3rd place game of the Final Four, the overall season was considered by many as a pleasant surprise. The Red Raiders know they set high expectations last year, and sophomore guard Kayla Barreto believes they have already seen progress over last year’s squad, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
“Last year, we played [Hononegah] and they scored 12 threes on us,” Barreto said. “We just didn't come out ready to play. This year, we knew what we had to do. They only had two threes that game. We closed out on shooters, they barely got any shots up and we just had to get after every loose ball. We're not even halfway where we should be. We have such high potential that we could get to. We have to make sure we're getting after every loose ball and also coming up with rebounds more.”
With two prolific scoring sisters, Sam and Allie Andrews (17.5 ppg), coach Steve Raethz has an added incentive to coach a stingy defense. The old cliché, ‘the best offense is a good defense’ certainly applies at Huntley. With scorers like the Andrews sisters, they want to create as many extra possessions as possible.
“Defense has been a real foundation of what we've tried to do from a program standpoint,” Raethz said. “It's something that we've really stressed at all levels. I think our kids, again this year, have really bought into that and what they need to do collectively and individually on the defensive end of the floor. So far, the kids have been doing a really nice job with what they need to do defensively. That's something that we expect them to bring, game in and game out.”