Last season Jenny Voytell was another talented tall player for the Metea Valley girls basketball team.
Now the 5-foot-8 senior is the Mustangs' biggest starter -- and also one of their quickest and most tenacious in their primarily man-to-man defense.
"I think I'm a pretty tall guard, so that's always been helpful," Voytell said. "I love to be up front and I love to play defense."
Voytell and the Mustangs turned in a strong defensive display Thursday at West Chicago, allowing just one field goal in the first half en route to a 54-37 in Upstate Eight Valley victory.
Metea (7-2, 2-1) was in command 27-9 at the half after the Wildcats (2-9, 1-3) were 1-of-19 shooting with 15 turnovers. Nine were a result of steals by the Mustangs, including 5 by Voytell.
It was the third time this season they held an opponent to fewer than 40 points.
"Last year we were taller so we could take our time more to let the plays develop. Now we really have to keep moving and score when we can," Voytell said.
"Defense is our biggest point of emphasis. We try to get a lot of steals in the beginning to up our intensity. Benet (a 38-37 victory Nov. 30) was our biggest accomplishment, but this is up there (defensively)."
Junior guard Lisa Logan and Voytell led Metea in scoring. The Mustangs zipped to an 11-0 lead and already had 6 steals before the Wildcats scored on reserve Kelsey Windisch's free throws with 19.7 seconds left in the period.
"I thought the kids did a great job of communicating and working together (defensively). When they are that active and talking, this is what they're capable of doing (defensively)," Metea coach Kris Kalivas said.
"Jenny Voytell set the tempo very nicely, getting in the passing lanes, getting some steals on ball and getting some easy layups for us. She's multidimensional. She can score, she does a great job defensively, she can handle the ball so she does a lot of things for us."
Logan was aggressive offensively. A transfer from Aurora Central, she scored four of her five baskets by driving the lane, resulting in three traditional three-point opportunities. Her other basket was a putback.
"I just saw the gap and I took it. I'm more of a driver than a shooter," Logan said. "It's actually been great (transferring). The team is very welcoming. I like (our) fast tempo."
West Chicago made its last shot of the first half, a perimeter swish by Madeline Earls after Windisch was 6 for 6 on free throws. Shelly Molskow and Hailey Sartore each scored 9 points in the second half.
Metea scored the first 6 points of the second half for a 33-9 lead. The Wildcats ended the third quarter with an 8-0 run to close to 38-23 before Metea's starters returned to begin the fourth quarter.
"We're working hard, we're a work in progress, but a lot of these kids need to learn more about the game and situations," West Chicago coach Kim Wallner said. "One basket in a half -- I've had it before, not lately though, not in the last five to 10 years. But it has been a while."