Before the Huntley boys basketball team got off a shot Tuesday night it trailed by 7 points.
By the time the Red Raiders scored they trailed by 12.
It was just was not Huntley's night.
Rockford Auburn used suffocating defense to make the Red Raiders uncomfortable en route to an easy 62-48 victory in the Class 4A Dundee-Crown sectional semifinals.
“Auburn is really, really good. You can't start out the first quarter the way we did, playing timid, and expect to beat them,” Huntley coach Marty Manning said.
The Knights (29-2) won their 20th consecutive game and will play either Elgin (25-3) or McHenry (12-15) in Friday's championship game. Elgin and McHenry play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the other semifinal.
Huntley (25-4) turned the ball over on its first three possessions. Justin Frederick took the Red Raiders' first shot with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter with Auburn up 7-0. Troy Miller hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 2:04 left in the first for the Red Raiders' first points. They trailed 12-3 after the basket and 16-5 after the first quarter.
“We beat ourselves,” Miller said. “We were intimidated. We said we were going to come out and not be intimidated, but we were.”
A Jake Brock 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter got Huntley within 8, 18-10. But the Red Raiders turned the ball over nine times in the final 5:50, leading to 13 points for Auburn. The final turnover came with 2 seconds left and led to Fred Van Vleet's 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 32-13 Auburn lead at halftime. The Knights scored 24 points off 16 Huntley turnovers in the first half.
“Kind of like last year, we sped them up a little bit and got the same result,” said Van Vleet, who helped the Knights end Huntley's season last year in the sectional final. “We know they don't really face as much pressure coming into this. But that's what we want to do to every team though. We didn't change our game plan at all.”
The Red Raiders settled down in the second half, scoring the first 6 points of the third quarter to get within 13, 32-19. But that would be as close as they would get.
Every time it appeared Huntley might make a run, Van Vleet put an end to it. The Wichita State-bound senior scored 9 points in the third and 12 in the fourth. Van Vleet finished with 35 points, two off his career high, on 13 of 19 shooting. He was 5-for-9 from behind the 3-point line.
“If he's hitting outside shots, there's really nothing you can do, at least no one on our team can guard him,” Manning said. “Other teams might have guys who are strong and quick and can probably guard him ... I take that back, I've seen guys strong and quick and they can't guard him either. When he's hitting an outside shot, you're at his mercy.”
Miller led the Red Raiders with 16 points, 13 in the second half. Frederick added 12 points and 7 rebounds. Brock had 9 points. Amanze Egekeze finished with 6 points and 11 rebounds.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.