Since suffering a 7-point loss at Neuqua Valley on Nov. 30, Metea Valley's players and coaches have held many discussions.
About their goals and aspirations. Starting games with more intensity. Being in less of a hurry offensively. Spreading around the points.
Oh, and about installing a whole new defense.
The Mustangs put all of their words into action Thursday night during a 59-28 Upstate Eight Valley win over shorthanded Lake Park in Aurora.
Senior guard Bria Walker and junior wing Jenny Voytell shared scoring honors with 12 points while three other Mustangs added 8 points.
"I think we did some really nice things," said Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas. "It was a balanced scoring attack. We had a lot more patience offensively, which was the other key that we've been working on. I think we took a step forward today, which was good to see."
Metea Valley (6-3, 2-1), which boasts a nice blend of length and quickness, trotted out a 1-3-1 zone trap that forced Lake Park (0-9, 0-3) into five turnovers on its first six possessions.
The Mustangs turned several of those miscues into transition baskets as they rushed out to a 24-13 lead after one quarter.
"We've been stressing all week coming out with high intensity, especially defensively," Kalivas said. "That (defense) was a little new today. We kind of threw in something a little different to shake things up. I think that gave us some good momentum offensively as well."
The Lancers weren't helped when 5-foot-11 senior forward Samantha Cummings went out two minutes into the game with an injured ankle and did not return. "She's the heart and soul of our team," said Lake Park coach Andrea Miller. "I think the team kind of deflated when that happened.
"That's something we're going to have to work on as a young team -- being tough and being resilient and fighting through adversity. Today we didn't do that very well."
When combined with 5-11 freshman Jen Warfield's absence while fighting the flu at home, Lake Park found itself without two of its three tallest players.
Metea Valley took advantage by winning the boards by a 47-32 margin. Six-two senior Anna Petersen grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, while 5-9 junior Morgan Snyder came off the bench for 8 points and 9 boards.
Sophomore guard Emily Duckhorn led the Lancers with 8 points. Senior Tyshai Freeman, the team's only healthy player taller than 5-8, played the whole way and produced 6 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore Marie Zepeda came off the bench to provide 8 rebounds.