Yorkville comes from behind to beat cold-shooting Huntley
Bryce Salek said there is some discrepancy on just how tall he is.
The Yorkville junior claims that he is 6-foot-4. His doctor tells him he is 6-2½. But there was no disputing that Salek needed to play especially large on Monday.
The Foxes were without their best player, senior post LeBaron Lee, as he was throwing for a Texas Rangers scout. Yorkville's other post, 6-10 Jason Jakstys, played limited minutes in his return from an ankle injury.
"Especially in this game I knew I had to play more inside with those guys out," Salek said. "I like playing on the perimeter, or inside, I like both. As you get older, 6-4 isn't that big anymore."
It was plenty big enough Monday.
Salek scored a team-high 13 points, and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Short-handed Yorkville spotted Huntley an early 10-point lead and never led until the fourth quarter, when the Foxes pulled out a 45-39 win at the 4th Annual MLK Day of Hoops at Geneva.
Jory Boley also scored 13 points and a third Yorkville junior, Caleb Fisher, had seven points for Yorkville (18-3). Fisher's free throw on the first possession of the fourth quarter gave the Foxes their first lead, and Boley's driving layup gave Yorkville the lead for good, 33-31, with 7:19 left.
"We get to postseason play, some big games, we're going to need some other guys to step up," Yorkville coach John Holakovsky said. "Better at an 11:45 a.m. game in Geneva with 50 people in the stands than Joliet West this Friday in a sellout crowd to get that exposure. Those kids deserve a ton of credit."
Salek also provided the spark on Saturday in Yorkville's comeback from 22 points down in the third quarter to beat Kaneland, a game in which Lee scored 32 points.
Holakovsky had Lee in the scoring book as available Monday, but he never made it to Geneva. Jakstys, who tweaked his ankle last Tuesday against Romeoville, showed he was game ready Monday with a reverse dunk in the layup line, and scored two points with two assists.
Salek, showing his versatile inside-outside game, made a 3-pointer for his first basket, scored on drives and caught a lob from Jakstys for a score to tie it 26-26 late in the third quarter and cap off an 8-0 run.
"He's a big-time hustle player for us," Holakovsky said. "Him and LeBaron started our rally Saturday. We play so much through our bigs that when we don't have them both out there everything runs a little more awkward. But pretty much every time Bryce goes in there we say we need those energy plays and those hustle plays. That's what he does for us."
Salek, clearly, has taken to the role.
"I kind of like that it allows me to be the sleeper that people don't know about it," he said. "I try to come off the bench, bring some energy, be a slasher, I can shoot, I can drive. With those guys being out I knew I had to step up today."
Lucas Crosby scored 11 points and Ian Ravagnie 10 for Huntley (14-5), Ravagnie's 3-pointer starting a 10-0 run to start the game.
The Red Raiders still led 22-18 at half, but it was a struggle offensively throughout. Huntley shot just 6 for 36 from 3-point range, 2 for 19 in the second half. Crosby's backdoor layup had the Red Raiders within 37-36 with 3:33 left, and Yorkville followed with four empty possessions. But Huntley could not capitalize, coming up empty on three straight possessions for the lead.
"There was just no flow in the game, no feel. It was a bizarre game," Huntley coach Will Benson said. "We do rely on the 3, and we usually hit the rim occasionally. No. 24 [Noah Only] and No. 4 [Ravagnie], they're two of our best shooters and they couldn't throw it in the ocean."
Only and Ravagnie indeed combined to shoot just 4 for 24. Compounding those issues, Only was called for a double technical early in the third quarter and eventually fouled out with four points with 4:20 left.
"The thing I was disappointed with most is we lost our poise a little bit, and not just with the technical," Benson said. "We were reacting to calls and that's not what we do and what we're supposed to do. It is what it is. The good news is we get to play tomorrow."
Yorkville, meanwhile, looks ahead to a big one Friday at Joliet West.
The banged-up Foxes have two other seniors hurt right now, and are even fighting injuries on the scout team which has required them to bring up sophomores to practice. Yorkville played eight juniors Monday, but nonetheless won its eighth straight game.
"We don't even have 10 right now to practice at times. We're kind of battling through the middle of the season grind," Holakovsky said. "I thought it would be a grind and a dogfight today and it was."