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Jessica Cerda (center) and Hannah McGlone (right) lead Streamwood into Thursday night's Rockford East Sectional championship game against Huntley. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
The first Huntley-Streamwood girls basketball game this season was closer than the final score indicated, and left Streamwood hoping for a rematch.
The Sabres get their chance Thursday night at the Class 4A Rockford East Sectional (7:30 p.m.) with the season on the line and a berth in Monday’s Dundee-Crown Supersectional against Wheaton-Warrenville South or Wheaton North at stake.
“It was a close game; they won right at the end,” Streamwood coach George Rosner recalled about that Nov. 17 contest in the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving Tournament with Huntley (24-6), which the Red Raiders won 54-42.
Streamwood (22-8) led 11-6 after a quarter, trailed 27-25 at halftime and got into foul trouble late with stars Jessica Cerda and Hannah McGlone fouling out while Huntley outscored the Sabres 15-8 in the fourth quarter for the win.
“We kind of lost our heads a little bit in that game,” Streamwood’s Cerda recalled.
It looked like the teams would play again a few weeks later in the second round of the Mundelein Christmas Tournament, but Conant knocked off Huntley to start the tournament. Streamwood then beat Conant in the next round.
While the stakes are much higher, the goals for each team are not much different than in the first contest.
Freshman Ali Andrews had 21 points and Sam Andrews had 20 for Huntley in the first game, and the Sabres will have to contend with the Red Raiders’ big height advantage again. But it’s not just height and an inside attack as Huntley can play the press and run game.
“We’ve shown versatility playing both the half-court game and can get up and down the floor,” Huntley coach Steve Raethz said.
It’s not just Huntley’s Andrews sisters that have to concern Streamwood. Haley Ream, who is also 6 feet, had eight points against them that proved critical in the first game.
Ream had nine rebounds in the Red Raiders’ sectional semifinal win over Harlem.
The Sabres last had to contend with a team that had multiple 6-foot threats when they faced Bartlett and Batavia near season’s end.
Bartlett beat them 58-39 and Batavia beat them 65-40. But Streamwood’s players maintain much has changed them through the course of the postseason and the school’s first shot at a sectional title in 25 years.
“This is the team we’ve been the whole year and we’re going to try to keep it up,” said Sabres standout Deja Moore said.
“We have to be ready and we have to be focused.”
Huntley had trouble in the first matchup with Streamwood’s “big three” as Cerda had 13 points, Moore 12, and McGlone 11. A key may be how much Huntley can limit the supporting Sabres.
Brittany Delao had six critical points in the Sabres’ 45-44 sectional semifinal win over Cary-Grove, a team that beat out Huntley 50-44 in overtime for the Fox Valley Valley title.
Raethz sees his team as being better than it was in its Fox Valley Valley showdown loss to Cary-Grove, and ready to win the school’s first-ever sectional crown after being relegated to third-seed status at regionals and winning the title anyway.
“I think our schedule both in conference and out of it really prepped us,” he said.
“We kind of got an idea what it was going to be like in postseason when we went up against (second-seeded) DeKalb right away, a team that we’d played in the regional finals the last two years and split with.
“We knew their personnel. We were down 8-4 after a quarter and responded.
“It was a real battle.”
And now comes another rematch with a team they know, one both sides also expect to be a tight battle.