Huntleys Bryce Only tries to strip the ball from Cary-Groves Jason Gregoire earlier this season.
John Starks | Staff Photographer
The Huntley boys basketball team is on the verge of completing a Fox Valley Conference three-peat.
The Red Raiders (15-6, 9-0) can wrap up their third straight FVC Valley Division title tonight with a win against second-place Dundee-Crown (16-5, 7-2) in Carpentersville. Huntley defeated the Chargers 45-38 on Jan. 19.
This is a big week for us in terms of our goals and where we stand going into the playoffs, senior forward Amanze Egekeze said after Wednesdays victory at Crystal Lake South. We know weve got to go on the road, play at a high level, execute and get better with each game.
A Huntley victory over D-C would extend its FVC Valley winning streak to 30 straight. The Red Raiders have not lost a division game since dropping a 49-46 decision to visiting Jacobs on Jan. 14, 2011.
Four-year varsity performer Bryce Only said after a recent game the streak connects this team to former teammates like Dylan Neukirch, Tyler Brunschon, Troy Miller and Justin Frederick. It means a lot to us and it means a lot to them, Only said. Theyre definitely telling us to try to keep it going and were going to try to keep it going.
The current Red Raiders say the streak has no affect on their game-by-game approach.
Obviously, we cant think too much about it, Egekeze said. Were just focused on every game, coming in and winning. We feel individually thats what we want to do: go undefeated every single season. We just try to come with the same focus because we know every team is going to give us their best shot.
Personally, my goal is to not lose another conference game in my high school career. We feel like we have the talent to do it, enough skill.
Dundee-Crown hopes to snap Huntleys streak and delay the clinch. The Chargers have won 5 straight, matching their longest streak of the season.
Were just hoping to keep it going because were trying to have a good season, senior guard Jack Buckley said after a win last week.
Huntley completes its Valley Division schedule with 2 home games next week against Jacobs and Cary-Grove. D-C concludes FVC Valley play with a home game against CL South and a road test at Cary-Grove on Feb. 19.Royals reign once more: Larkins eight-year title drought has come to an end.
Though Larkin (20-3, 9-2) was idle last Saturday night, the Royals still managed to clinch at least a share of the Upstate Eight River title when St. Charles North (13-8, 6-4) defeated St. Charles East (13-8, 6-3) by 13 points.
The title is the Royals first since guard Dayvon Ellis and forward Carliss Henderson led the program to an outright Upstate Eight Conference title in 2005-06.
Its good, we feel good about it, coach Deryn Carter said. Im proud of the guys. Its good to get one of our goals. A share maybe wasnt actually the goal, but we can handle business for ourselves if we go out and win.
The Royals can secure the outright UEC River title with a victory at Geneva (16-6, 6-4) tonight at 7:15 p.m. The Vikings defeated Larkin 61-56 in Elgin on Jan. 19.
A key to Larkins successful season has been the emergence of 6-foot-1 junior guard Kendale McCullum, who joined the varsity midway through his sophomore season. Though not yet completely polished, according to his coach, McCullum leads the area in average assists (5.0) and steals (3.6) and adds 4.6 rebounds per outing.
Im just really patient with the ball and I rely on my vision, said McCullum, Larkins third-leading scorer at 11.5 ppg. I always know where my teammates are.
Above all else his feel for the game sets him apart from most high school kids, Carter said. He sees a lot of things a lot of high school kids dont. He anticipates plays other dont see until after the play has occurred.
But right now he and the rest of our team need to keep working on being humble and continuing to improve. The teams in our regional keep getting better. We have to stay on track or well get run over by the train.
Rising Wave: The Fox Valley areas most improved team this season is St. Edward (19-5, 7-2), which won only 9 games last year. The program is enjoying its finest season since coach Kevin Dix led the 1996-97 squad to a 22-9 finish.
More importantly, coach P.J. Whites team has positioned itself to play for a share of the Suburban Christian Conferences Gold Division title. St. Edward and Montini (14-7, 6-2) both trail Immaculate Conception (17-5, 7-1) by a game in the loss column.
The Green Wave and IC will square off in the regular-season finale in Elmhurst next Friday.
That will be a great opportunity for our team because we control our own destiny, but we wont look at that until after weve played Aurora Christian and Westmont, White said. Playing for the conference championship is something to be thrilled about, but we have to take them one at a time.
That Feb. 15 clash will be the fourth meeting between the rivals this season. St. Edward defeated the Knights 51-39 to win the Westminster Christian Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 24. IC returned the favor by defeating the Green Wave 57-51 in the title game of the Westmont/IC Christmas Tournament on Dec. 29. The Knights subsequently won a SCC Gold contest 64-58 in Elgin on Jan. 11.
White points to multiple factors for the squads turnaround, including familiarity with the same system being taught at all levels of the program and more team height.
St. Edwards share-the-ball attitude also ranks among the key reasons for improvement, demonstrated by the similar scoring averages of seniors Adrian Ponce (11.3 ppg) and Antonio Domel (10.6), junior DaVontae Elam (9.6) and sophomore Nick Duffy (10.3). Domel averages nearly 5 assists per game.
Most of all, its a group of kids that just decided to say that basketball is our No. 1 focus and were going to concentrate on improving the program, White said. And its not just the seven or eight guys who play every game. Its everyone on the roster playing hard in practice every single day and making us better.
Weve got a handful of kids who want to turn the program around and a lot of them are younger. My goal was 13 to 15 wins this year. Theyve already outdone that, which is a credit to the kids.
St. Edward and Immaculate Conception could meet for a fifth time in the postseason. Both are assigned to the Class 2A Westmont regional, where the Knights are the No. 1 seed and St. Edward No. 2.
On TV this weekend: The Comcast Game of the Week shines its spotlight on the Fox Valley twice this weekend.
Tonights matchup between Larkin and Geneva will be shown on tape delay Saturday at noon and 4 p.m. Saturdays game between Huntley and Dundee-Crown will be broadcast on delay Sunday at noon and 4 p.m.