JOHNSBURG – Huntley guard Aiden Wieczorek nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing, only a few feet from the Red Raiders’ bench, then turned around and screamed at his teammates.
A few moments before, Wauconda had grabbed its second lead of the game, which lasted all of 11 seconds. Wieczorek’s shot was part of 10 consecutive points that swung momentum back in Huntley’s favor.
The Raiders were not giving up the lead again.
“We just wanted to keep calm, go on our own run, and play it more intelligently than we did in the first half,” Wieczorek said.
The Raiders did all those things and came away with a 59-43 victory over Wauconda for the championship of the Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday.
“Holding a team like that to 16 points in a half is pretty impressive the way they play,” Raiders coach Will Benson said. “[Wauconda] scored 81 twice. To hold those guys to 16 [in the second half] was pretty darn good. We made them take tough shots and tried to limit their offensive rebounds.
“Then you saw a veteran team know how to get stops, take care of the ball and knock down free throws to close out.”
Huntley (4-0) hit 7 of 9 free throws and committed only two turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs (3-1) cut the lead to 48-43 with 4:30 remaining, but Huntley went inside to Chet Andrews for the next six points then finished off Wauconda at the free-throw line.
“We went through our keys,” Wieczorek said. “We used our mind more, our intelligence and we ended up shutting them down a little more.”
Wieczorek scored a game-high 19 points and Ben Ahmer had 17, both with five 3s. Ahmer was voted tournament MVP, Wieczorek made the all-tournament team.
Ahmer started the second half as he had the first, hitting a 3, but Wauconda answered back with Garrison Carter’s 3 and a layup from Griffin Daun for a 32-31 lead.
The only other time the Bulldogs led was the last 41 seconds of the first quarter after Daun grabbed a steal and dunked. Wieczorek ended the first with a 3 from the right corner to retake the lead. In all, Wauconda led for 52 seconds.
“The biggest thing is, we’re going to hit shots and we’re going to not hit shots, but getting stops and then finishing with a rebound was huge,” Ahmer said. “Not giving them a second chance.”
After the Bulldogs took their second lead, that was what Huntley did, one shot and done, then converting on the other end. Ahmer hit a 3, then tossed in a floater in the lane, Wieczorek hit his 3 and Nate Ary scored inside.
“You have to hit shots if you want to have a chance to win, and we didn’t hit shots,” Bulldogs coach Scott Luetschwager said. “They played us some really good man-to-man defense and knocked us off our spots. We had some open looks we didn’t knock down. Those were shots that fell earlier and it just compounded.”
Andrews added 12 points for the Raiders. Nicolas Brinias led Wauconda with 11, Carter and Daun each scored 10. Brinias and Carter were named to the all-tournament team.
“They competed really hard,” Benson said of his own team. “I thought we didn’t play overly intelligent in the first half at times. I don’t question their effort, we just didn’t do some things with the intelligence we normally do. It helps when you make shots.”
Wieczorek hit 7 of 14 field goals, Ahmer was 6 of 14 and Andrews was 5 of 6. Wauconda hit 33.3% (17 of 51) from the field. Adam Guazzo finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, 10 in the second half.
Leutschwager still felt it was a good start for the Bulldogs.
“It was good. Everything we do, we have to learn from it,” he said. “We have to learn from our successes and from our failures. We learn from this to get better.”
Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton Thanksgiving Tournament Championship
Huntley 59, Wauconda 43
Drobnik 1 0-0 2, Carlsen 0 0-0 0, Brinias 5 0-0 11, Daun 5 0-0 10, Carter 4 1-1 10, Mudd 1 2-2 5, Muniz 2 0-0 5. Totals: 17 3-4 43.
Ahmer 6 0-0 17, Ary 1 5-6 7, Wieczorek 7 0-0 19, Guazzo 0 2-2 2, Andrews 5 2-3 12, Only 1 0-0 2, Dzik 0 0-0 0, Ravagnie 0 0-0 0, Kramer 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 9-11 59.
Wauconda 14 13 11 5 – 43
Huntley 15 13 15 16 – 59
3-point goals: Wauconda 4 (Brinias, Carter, Mudd, Muniz), Huntley 10 (Ahmer 5, Wieczorek 5). Total fouls: Wauconda 15, Huntley 11.