Huntley advances to regional championship

Huntley felt good about its man-to-man defense after allowing Harlem only 13 first-half points.

The Red Raiders soon were thrilled with their offense as well as they came out and hit five 3-pointers and 8 of 13 shots in the third quarter, their best shooting for some time.

No. 1-seeded Huntley poured in 23 points in the third quarter and pulled away from No. 7 Harlem for a 57-34 victory in a Class 4A Hononegah Regional boys basketball semifinal game Thursday. No. 4 Rockford East defeated No. 6 McHenry 70-52 in the second semifinal.

Huntley (21-10) and East (22-10) will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship, a rematch of last year's Jacobs regional which East won.

For Huntley, it was just nice to see shots falling after a stretch with five losses in its six previous games.

"We definitely had a good start on defense," said Raiders forward Ian Ravagnie, who led all players with 23 points and hit four 3s. "We were just holding them playing our game. Everyone was just doing their job and finding the open man and if someone had a good shot and someone else had a great shot, they were dishing it off. We're all contributing."

Huntley coach Will Benson appreciated the defensive effort.

"Your defense has to carry you through stretches where you're not making shots," Benson said. "We started a little slow and weren't making anything, but our defense kept us in. We talked about having that one little burst."

It happened just before the half when Huntley led 15-13. Omare Segarra hit a shot in the lane, Ethan Blackmore lobbed an alley-oop pass to Lucas Crosby for a layup and Segarra hit a 3 at the buzzer for a 22-13 lead.

Crosby and Ravagnie opened the third quarter, each with a 3 and Segarra scored inside to cap a 17-2 run.

Segarra finished with nine points, Crosby had seven and Noah Only hit two 3s for six.

"It seems like this year, more than any other, that whatever happened the game before or the week before doesn't matter," Benson said. "It's you show up on that night and play, a one-game situation, that's all it takes, so the kids are doing a good job having confidence in that."

The Raiders will be trying for their first regional title since 2020.

"We didn't end the season the way we wanted to, but we still got this part of the season," Ravagnie said. "We ended our season with some tough teams. That definitely prepared us for the postseason."

DeAndre Young led Harlem (13-19) with 14 points.

McHenry (13-19) made a nice run at East in the third quarter, knocking a 14-point lead down to 38-30 midway through the quarter. But the E-Rabs pushed it back to 52-34 at the end of the period.

The Warriors were led by guard Marko Visnjevac with 15 points and four 3s. Hayden Stone and Zack Maness each scored 10 points.

The future looks bright for McHenry, which started only one senior (Maness), with two juniors (Visnjevac and Stone), a sophomore (Caleb Jett) and a freshman (Adam Anwar). Sophomore Conner McLean started for a good portion of the season.

"We tried to treat them as if they were all upperclassmen, that way this year would be meaningful," Warriors coach Chris Madson said. "We only have three seniors, which is encouraging because you bring back so many.

"We hung in almost every game that we had. So it wasn't like we were building for the future and you're taking it on the chin every night. It's competitive. The thing we talked about tonight was how do you want to be known when you're walking off the floor, body-language-wise? That's what we'll take forward."

Visnjevac was proud of the way the Warriors battled.

"We fought hard. We all tried our hardest," Visnjevac said. "We're going o get a lot closer from this. Just improv and learn from that.

"We showed a lot of people we were better than we usually are. We're not a team that was going to get below 10 wins. There's more to improve on."

Matthew Hoarde led East with 17 points, Antonio Lewis scored 16 and Carl Harris added 15 points with 16 rebounds.

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