Prairie Ridge hands Huntley first FVC loss

Prairie Ridge was beaming with confidence after a thrilling 47-39 Fox Valley Conference win over Huntley on Friday.

"We're the best. We're the best team in the conference, and we're getting better everyday," Prairie Ridge senior shooting guard Karsen Karlblom said after the Wolves gave Huntley its first conference loss of the season.

"We've probably never played harder than that, and we just have to keep proving ourselves and keep playing that hard."

Huntley defeated Prairie Ridge, 53-38, when the teams met Nov. 30 in their first FVC matchup. Since then, the Wolves are 15-1 with their only loss to Burlington Central.

Friday's victory over the Raiders was Prairie Ridge's 12th in a row. The Wolves are now 19-3 and 8-2 in the FVC.

"Winning builds confidence, and I think they're finally starting to believe in themselves," Wolves coach Tim Taege said. "I'm proud of them for not putting their heads down or giving up, which is easy to do against a team like Huntley. That's a solid basketball team, and we took it to them."

Huntley (11-5, 7-1 FVC) found itself in foul trouble early Friday but still managed to keep things close with the Wolves with their pressure defense.

Prairie Ridge's Isabella Pollastrini and Karlblom both converted back-to-back buckets in the last 1:30 of the third quarter to take a 27-23 lead going into the fourth. A step-back 3-pointer from Karlblom at the start of the fourth gave the Wolves a 30-23 lead.

But from there, it was the Raiders who responded with a key run.

Huntley junior guard Jessie Ozzauto had an off-balance layup and then junior guard Sammi Campanelli scored seven consecutive points, including an acrobatic three-point play in which she weaved through traffic in the lane for a layup off the glass.

Campanelli then hit a corner 3 to cap Huntley's 10-0 run for a 33-30 lead with 4:10 remaining.

Huntley's lead was short-lived, however. Karlblom scored twice in 15 seconds, including a three-point play after a Raiders' turnover for a 35-33 lead. Huntley's Jori Heard knocked down 1-of-2 free throws with 2:50 left to cut the lead to one, but Prairie Ridge responded with an 8-2 run to pull away.

Karlblom scored a game-high 19 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and senior point guard Elani Nanos had 12 points, with seven in the fourth. Senior forward Kelly Gende tossed in nine points and 14 rebounds.

Karlblom also became the first player in team history to score 1,500 career points with her first field goal Friday.

Huntley was led by Ozzauto with 12 points, Campanelli with eight (all in the fourth quarter), and Alyssa Koop with seven. Anna Campanelli grabbed nine rebounds and Jori Heard tallied five points and seven boards.

The Raiders have had a busy week after an almost two-week COVID-19 pause. Huntley beat Crystal Lake South on Tuesday and beat Crystal Lake Central on Wednesday. The Raiders turn around Saturday with a game against Dundee-Crown, their fourth road game of the week.

"We started off with two wins and we were hoping to just keep it rolling," Sammi Campanelli said. "We had the one practice and we were very focused during that. We're just going to use this loss as a push to win tomorrow. We knew tonight was going to be a tough game."

The Raiders have another tough schedule next week, starting with 20-0 Sycamore on Monday and ending with Burlington Central (13-7), which is now 8-1 in FVC games after a win against Hampshire, on Saturday.

"We told our team after the game, we're proud of their effort," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "Obviously, this was a bump in the road here, but we have a lot of conference games left to play. Our goal of contending for a conference title hasn't changed. [Taege] does a great job of coaching his kids up and they played great tonight."

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