Huntley reaches state finals for first time

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In order to have any chance of getting its ticket punched for a trip to this weekend’s state finals in Normal, Huntley had two items on its checklist Monday — keep Wheaton Warrenville South off the glass and find a way to contain DePaul-bound guard Meghan Waldron. Check. Check.

The thrilling ride will continue for the Red Raiders as they get ready to pack their bags for their first-ever trip to Illinois State’s Redbird Arena after knocking off Wheaton South 47-43 in the Class 4A Dundee-Crown Supersectional.

Huntley meets Rolling Meadows on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Class 4A semifinals.

Junior Sam Andrews had 17 points to lead Huntley in scoring. Her younger sister, freshman Ali Andrews, turned in a double-double with 12 points and a team high 11 rebounds.

“All the things we talked about that we needed to do we did them,” said Huntley coach Steve Raethz. “I couldn’t be prouder of these girls. What an effort. What a game. We are so excited to be representing Huntley High School and the whole Huntley community at the state finals.”

Despite a clear height disadvantage the Red Raiders were able to hold their own on the boards. The Tigers had just a 32-30 rebounding edge.

“We knew that was key number one heading in,” said Raethz. “They are a team that gets a lot of points off offensive rebounds, but we did a fantastic job of limiting their second chances.”

The Red Raiders’ (26-6) approach to Waldron was isolate her and stop her from getting the rest of her team involved. It worked. Waldron had to battle the whole way to score 23 points, but the rest of the Tigers shot a combined 6-of-32 (18 percent) from the field.

“She’s a great player and she’s going to find a way to get her points,” said Raethz. “But I thought Haley (Ream) did an outstanding job of containing her and we did a great job of making her do all the work by shutting down their other scorers.”

The Tigers shot just 6-of-31 from the field in the first half. A couple of three-pointers by Sam Andrews helped give Huntley a 17-14 halftime lead. Andrews added two more threes in the third quarter; the second gave the Red Raiders their biggest lead of the night at 34-26 with just under a minute left in the quarter.

Wheaton South managed to pull to within 34-32 early in the fourth quarter, but Huntley never surrendered the lead. Sam Andrews and Ali Andrews each had big buckets down the stretch and the Red Raiders made 9-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

“This is so unbelievable,” said Sam Andrews. “Teamwork has been our biggest strength all year and we came together again tonight. We knew every possession was very important and we did a great job of taking care of the ball in the second half.”

The Tigers came up short in their bid for their first trip to the state finals since 1985.

“They made it tough for us to score,” said Wheaton South coach Robert Kroehnke. “We wanted to establish our inside game, but they did a great job of denying us the ball and kept us on the perimeter. And that’s just not our game.”

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