Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza praised his team's effort and intensity after Saturday night's 66-60 loss at East Aurora.
But the team's experience level needs some time to reach the level of the team's competitiveness. The Mustangs (2-4, 0-2 Upstate Eight Valley) did not have an answer to the Tomcats' 21-point third quarter that included five 3-pointers. East Aurora (1-5, 1-1) finished with seven 3-pointers in the second half and eight for the game.
"We are inexperienced in terms of who we have didn't have a lot of minutes last year. This is on-the-job training," Vozza said. "I told them not to hang their heads."
Metea Valley led 29-27 at halftime with East Aurora's Fred Reynolds hitting the third quarter's first 3 as a sign of what was to come.
Later in the quarter, the Mustangs' Mark Konkle hit for two to cut the Tomcats' lead to 42-41. However, East Aurora closed out the period on a 6-1 run with Delvion Pugh's 3 coming with just seconds left to put his team up 48-42.
Despite the Tomcats' prowness with the 3, Metea Valley stayed within range the entire fourth quarter. Sam Hanson went in for an untouched layup and followed with another basket soon after to put Metea ahead 55-54 and forcing East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries to call a timeout. Hanson finished with 13 points.
Bryson Oliver and Hanson each would again put the Mustangs to within 2 points with less than two minutes to play. The Tomcats dried the ink on this victory with the majority of their 10 free throws made in the final eight minutes coming with less than 40 seconds to play.
Marquell Oliver led Metea Valley with 19 points. Kuehn had 10 rebounds.
"We knew they could shoot like that. It got them in the groove and that momentum carried," Vozza said.
Three Tomcats finished with double-digit points, led by Jonathan Villezcas with 20. Jeffries said offense hasn't been a problem for his team. Metea Valley had the misfortune of facing a team determined to shore up its weak defense after giving up 96 points to West Chicago on Thursday.
"I thought we matched up well against Metea Valley. They don't have a lot of height and most teams have outsized us," Jeffries said.