Years from now West Chicago senior John Konchar will reminisce on the night he scored his 1,000th point.
For now, both coaching staffs will ponder Neuqua Valley's 31-7 third-quarter run that created an 86-64 victory Saturday at Bishop Gymnasium in West Chicago.
In their first game as Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division opponents, West Chicago scored the first 7 points of the third quarter to pull within 39-37 of Neuqua Valley, capping the burst on a Konchar steal and dunk.
Neuqua Wildcats coach Todd Sutton took a timeout to cut the West Chicago Wildcats' momentum. That happened, putting it mildly. Neuqua Valley (6-2, 4-0) went into the fourth quarter leading 70-44.
"He said, 'They made a run, now it's our time to stop them and we've got to make our run.' We knew that Konchar was going to look to take over the game, and we had to come out of the timeout ready to play," said Neuqua junior guard Demond George, who scored 7 of his 9 points in an 11-0 sprint out of the timeout.
Starting and ending the 31-point explosion with 2 Connor Raridon free throws, Neuqua got points on everything from Raridon's alley-oop inbounds pass to Jacob Eminger, an old Sutton favorite, to Josh Piotrowski's double-pump to Zach Lendino's transition layup on which he got hammered then converted the three-point play.
"I don't know what happened offensively, we were just clicking," said Sutton, who got scoring from 13 of 14 players he used, led by Raridon with 15 points.
In the fateful span coach Bill Recchia called "dumbfounding," West Chicago (5-4, 2-2) turned the ball over seven times and managed a Mitch Henke basket and 5 of Mikey Bibbs' 14 points.
"We weren't closing out on shooters, we were letting some guys come across the lane uncontested, just basic basketball 101," he said. "There's no magic formula to winning basketball, it's just doing the right things, and we didn't execute with that energy that we needed to have tonight."
It wasn't the first time, to Recchia's annoyance. Neuqua scored the game's first 14 points on the way to a 26-11 lead after one quarter.
Then the 6-foot-4 Konchar got into the flow. Entering the game with 983 points and facing Neuqua's toughest defender in Piotrowski, the swingman sat on 16 points late in the second quarter when he swished a 20-foot 3-pointer to join the 1,000-point club. Konchar finished with 26 points and 9 rebounds.
"It feels amazing," he said. "Just working up ever since sophomore year, getting after it every day."
Piotrowski said: "He had a good game, 26 points is still really good. But in the end we got the win, so that's all that matters."