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2013-'14 Season Coverage
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Article updated: 11/23/2013 12:03 AM
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Neuqua Valley measures up against Conant
 

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Neuqua Valley measures up against Conant
 

A logo of a Cougar on the back of Conant's jersey was said to be too large by the officials prior to Friday's game.

So Neuqua Valley Kai Moon made 1-of-2 technical free throws to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead and the ball out of bounds before the clock even started.

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But the Cougars didn't let the early adversity distract them in their season opener.

They played a solid game for three quarters before Neuqua Valley surged away in the final quarter for a 62-47 triumph in the opening-round game of the York Thanksgiving Tournament.

"They're new uniforms with a new logo," said Conant girls basketball coach Dan Travers. "It's was something done by myself and the manufacturers, so we'll give a call to the IHSA and see what we can do."

What Travers saw his Cougars do on Friday was produce a gutsy effort nearly start to finish.

"You've got to give credit to Neuqua Valley," Travers said. "But our girls fought and fought. I'm proud of their effort.

"We just needed less turnover, more rebounds and to get the ball to our shooters."

Kai Moon and Niki Lazar led Neuqua Valley with 11 points each.

Despite foul trouble, Bryce Menendez added 10 while teammate Najee Smith chipped in 9 and Malia Smith 8.

Two players fouled out for coach Mike Williams, whose team is 1-1 after falling to St Thomas More (Champaign) on Tuesday.

"We're still adjusting," Williams said. "We kind of went away from our press a little bit and went more to a full-court man to take advantage of some of our quickness. We may have to start doing that a little bit more than usual.

Lazar hit 3-pointers late in the first quarter to give the Wildcats a 20-10 lead.

"We've always had a problem starting out the game tough," Lazar said. "We're always strong in the fourth quarter. That's when we get our energy up."

Nireet Dhillon led Conant with 11 points while Morgan Ritzier and Katie Lomas each added 8. Haley Anderson battled in the post for 6 points.

Conant was 16-of-33 at the foul line.

"When we play athletic teams like Neuqua Valley, it's to our advantage to try to get to the free-throw line," Travers said. "That was one of our goals. But we got hurt rebounding. We just got to do the little things … less turnovers, more rebounds and get the ball to our shooters."

Dhillon scored 5 points in the first half and 6 in the second.

"They're a good team," Dhillon said of Neuqua Valley. "We fought hard until the fourth quarter. We missed some rebounds. And they pressured us and we didn't handle it that well."

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