GRAYSLAKE – The Huntley girls basketball team had to take care of business in Thursday night's Fox Valley Conference first-place crossover game at Grayslake Central, not just to claim its conference superiority, but because the cupcakes sure weren't going to last until Tuesday when the Red Raiders play next.
The Red Raiders did win Thursday, beating the Rams, 47-23, to capture their third consecutive FVC crossover title and also coach Steve Raethz's 300th win, which they celebrated with red-and-black frosted cupcakes each saying "300" on top.
"It was amazing. He's such a great coach, he's always pushing us to be better and help each other out as teammates and just push each other day by day," Huntley senior Lexi Lowitzki said. "So it meant a lot to be able to be a part of the team that got that 300th win for him."
Raethz said his athletic director had mentioned he was sitting on 299 coming into the contest.
"Obviously what pleases me most is that we walked away with a win here tonight and finished the regular season on a real positive note," Raethz said. "It's our third straight Fox Valley first-place crossover game win ... so I'm really really proud of our effort and just pleased to be finishing the regular season on a positive note heading into the postseason."
The Red Raiders (26-3) have now won 14 consecutive games to close the regular season.
The night, however, didn't start well for Huntley. In the first four minutes of the first quarter it had just one point, four turnovers and trailed 6-1, forcing Raethz to call timeout.
"Sometimes when we come out we're just not ready to go and I think that's what happened; we needed Raethz to yell at us a little bit and give us a little bit of motivation," Lowitzki said. "Our defense really picked up, we changed a couple things defensively tried a couple different defenses in order to speed up the game and I think that worked out well."
It did work well, as the Red Raiders outscored the Rams, 14-3, to close out the first quarter. Huntley's first basket of the game came with 3:55 left in the first quarter when Ali Andrews pulled up in transition for a jumper.
"We just needed to get momentum underneath our feet," Andrews said. "We just needed to get shots up and just start making them and get more confidence in ourselves."
Andrews went on to lead the Red Raiders with 22 points, while Morgan Clausen added 15.
Huntley pulled away in the second quarter when it held Grayslake Central (14-14) without a field goal, outscoring the Rams, 13-3, to lead 28-12 at halftime. The Raiders led, 40-18, after three quarters.
The visitors allowed just six baskets in the entire contest. Lindsay Brust led the Rams with 10 points.
"Going into this game he told us, 'Let's seal the deal, this is a statement, a statement needs to be made,' so this was it," Lowitzki said.