The Neuqua Valley girls basketball team opened the third quarter of Saturday's afternoon's 73-49 victory over Wheaton North at the York Thanksgiving Tournament with two consecutive 3-point baskets followed by two straight baskets off steals.
It was a small example of the type of play that coach Mike Williams wants to instill in the Wildcats, and he considered the victory their best performance so far in the young season.
"It's taken a couple of games to adjust (to the closer officiating of games) and we limited our fouls (20) and got into a rhythm," he said. "Yesterday, we had 43 and you can't get into a rhythm with that."
Three Wildcats scored in double digits, led by Kai Moon's game-high 15 points. Najee Smith had 13 and Maya Starks had 12. Starks and Smith played big roles in their team's early third-quarter scoring outburst. Smith hit for a 3 as did Starks, who also got a basket off a steal.
Neuqua (2-1) led 64-40 after three quarters on 53 percent shooting from the field.
"We're balanced. We have a nice combination of size and youth and ballhandlers, and we hit the boards well today," Williams said.
Turnovers were a big hurdle for Wheaton North (1-1) . The Falcons committed 12 during the first quarter and were severely limited in shooting because of it, going 3 of 8 from the field and trailing 18-10 after the first eight minutes.
"Obviously, we're young and we have a lot of kids in different roles than last year," said Falcons coach Dave Eaton. "Neuqua is an experienced club and they made the right reads and decisions."
Wheaton North coughed up the ball just four times during the second quarter and that was crucial to the Falcons scoring 21 points during the quarter and only trailing by 10 at halftime. Wheaton North had pulled to 18-16 with 5:32 left until intermission on Emily Barry's three-point play.
Emmy Gryna and Kelly Thornton led the Falcons with 10 points apiece.
Eaton said being in the York Tournament, with the competition it provides, is crucial to the Falcons as another DuPage Valley Conference season awaits.
"It gives us a good indication of where we need to be," he said.
The tournament resumes Wednesday with the Wildcats taking on St. Charles North at 2 p.m., followed by Wheaton North battling the host Dukes at 3:30.