MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. — It took the Hononegah Indians a while to get into their comfort zone Wednesday night. Once they did, it didn’t take them long to run away from Huntley.
The Indians avenged their IHSA Class 4A sectional defeat last season with a punishing 52-26 victory over the Red Raiders at Harlem High School to advance to Friday’s regional final, where they will take on Rockford East.
Hononegah led just 10-7 after the first quarter, but nailed four straight three-pointers to begin the second quarter.
By the time the period was halfway through, the Indians held a commanding 26-9 advantage, and the rest of the game was simply window dressing as the Indians finished the evening with 12 3-pointers.
A pair of seniors, Meagan Matuska and Bayli Martinetti, played huge roles in the victory. Matuska scored a team-high 17 points while Martinetti finished with 11 . Sophomore Jordan King scored 12 points despite struggling with her shot most of the evening.
Hononegah coach Randy Weibel was quick to praise Matuska, who scored all 12 of her 17 points in the first half as the Indians held a 29-14 lead at halftime.
“Meagan really got us going early by knocking down some shots,” Weibel said. “She is a big-game player, and she’s been great all year for us. She brought a ton of energy for us defensively.”
Martinetti dropped in three 3-pointers and helped lead the signature Hononegah press into harassing Huntley into several turnovers.
Martinetti missed the first month of the season with a knee injury, and struggled knocking down shots upon her return. The last few games have been a different story, with Martinetti giving the Indians another offensive weapon.
“She got a ton of deflections defensively,” Weibel said. “She’s given us a huge lift. Her making shots like that, it’s like adding a brand new player to our team.”
Martinetti said she’s starting to feel like herself again.
“I feel like there are still a lot of things I can improve on,” Martinetti said. “But my shot is being getting there and I’m happy about that. The farther we go and the more we play, the more comfortable I’m getting.”
King, who already has over 1,200 points in her career and carries several Division 1 offers with her, provided a defensive boost and dished out several assists to offset her tough shooting night. “That girl deserves a breather, honestly,” Matuska said. “She carries so much on her shoulders and she’s such a vital part of our team. It was nice that other people stepped up, but I’m very glad she’s on my team and not anybody else’s. “
Huntley was led by Morgan Clausen, a senior who is committed to play for Brown University next season. Clausen scored 16 of Huntley’s first 17 points but the Indians never let her dominate the action inside. “We knew exactly who she was and how tough she was going to be,” Matuska said. “We just focused on being strong and physical inside with her and did our best against her.”
The Indians met East once during the regular season and blasted the E-Rabs 63-35 on Jan. 28. Hononegah will try to extend its winning streak to nine Friday, with the opening tip scheduled for 7 p.m.