Josh Piotrowski came into a rivalry game with a previous personal scoring best that barely reached double figures.
But the Neuqua Valley senior had a breakout performance Saturday evening against Waubonsie Valley in the schools' Upstate Eight Valley boys basketball game.
Piotrowski scored a game-high 24 points to lead three Wildcats in double digits as Neuqua Valley rarely trailed in its 64-45 victory over the Warriors in Naperville.
"Piotrowski had a great game, a career game for him," Waubonsie Valley coach Chaz Taft said.
The senior guard had not been happy with his play to begin the season.
"I came into the game tonight with a different mindset," Piotrowski said. "The first five games I was too timid with the ball. I was much more aggressive tonight. I had a lot of openings and capitalized on them."
Waubonsie Valley (2-4, 0-2) opened both halves with 3-pointers, but little else went right for the Warriors.
Piotrowski scored half of the Wildcats' 14 first-quarter points, and Neuqua Valley (4-2, 2-0) put the defensive clamps on its sister school in the second quarter.
Waubonsie Valley managed only 6 points in the second quarter as Neuqua Valley entered the halftime intermission with a 26-17 lead.
The game was much more fluid offensively in the third quarter.
The Warriors doubled their first-half output in the third, but the Wildcats more than kept pace.
Elijah Robertson could have had a chance for back-to-back three-point plays for Neuqua Valley, but the senior forward missed both conversions.
The first, with 4:36 to play in the third quarter, was a thunderous dunk in transition.
"If you get a dunk like that against a team, you have to make the 'and-one,'" said Robertson, who had 15 points. "My eyes got real big. I blew it."
The play gave Neuqua Valley a 37-20 lead, and Waubonsie Valley came within single digits once the remainder of the game.
Piotrowski was on the receiving end of the symbolic play of the night.
Connor Raridon lobbed a perfect pass -- while in a prone position -- over two Waubonsie Valley defenders to hit Piotrowski for an uncontested layup.
"That was a Magic Johnson pass," Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton said. "(Piotrowski) is our hardest worker. He owned the floor. I was very pleased with our work on the boards tonight."
Nick Kazkazis' back-to-back 3-pointers were the linchpins of a Waubonsie Valley run that closed the gap to 46-35 heading into the final quarter.
But Piotrowski had consecutive field goals, including his second three-point play of the game, early in the fourth quarter.
Neuqua Valley, which also received 10 and 9 points, respectively, Zachary Lendino and Raridon, scored 19 points in both second-half quarters.
Jay DeHaan hit three 3-pointers to lead Waubonsie Valley with 16 points.
Karkazis added 11 points for the Warriors.