When Neuqua Valley was forcing turnovers against Metea Valley on Friday night in Naperville, it opened up its lead.
When the visiting Mustangs could break the Neuqua press, they cut into the lead.
Neuqua Valley forced 31 Metea Valley turnovers in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division girls basketball game, running away with a 56-37 victory.
"They did what they were trying to do, slow us down, get into a zone," Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams said. "Sooner or later we were hoping we could get into our press and make it happen. And we did. It worked. We played a lot more man than we normally do, but we tried to get some energy. It's been a week since we played. It's tough, it's tough to come back."
"I thought we came out and started the game off well and I thought there were moments where we did a great job breaking the press," added Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas. "And there were moments where we just shot ourselves in the foot. Unfortunately, against a good team like that, you can't afford to do that. We had open people down the floor and we just weren't looking to hit them."
Neuqua (14-5, 5-0) scored the game's first 8 points before Jenny Voytell hit a 3-pointer for Metea Valley (10-9, 2-5). But the Mustangs cut down on their turnovers toward the end of the first quarter and clawed their way back to a 10-10 tie after eight minutes.
A 14-0 Wildcats run in the second quarter, during which they forced 8 turnovers, gave them a 26-12 lead, but again the Mustangs clawed back, narrowing the margin to 8 points by halftime.
"Our early lead was a sign that we were ready to play, but we let that go," Neuqua Valley junior Bryce Menendez said. "That's not OK. We need to learn how to keep that lead and how to keep momentum going into halftime. That's really important for the second half."
Again the Wildcats worked to open their lead, a Niki Lazar 3-pointer capping a 13-3 run in the third quarter. The Neuqua Valley eventually extended their lead to 25 points in the fourth quarter.
"The second we played well, dominated, got our stuff together, so I'm very pleased with tonight," Menendez said.
"After halftime that's when the turnovers really started to come," Kalivas added. "Against a team that presses you, if you don't take care of the basketball you give them easy points. You can't do that. One of our goals in the pregame was to get them into a halfcourt game, which is what we did in the first quarter and part of the second quarter and that's why we kept it close."
Myia Starks and Lazar led Neuqua Valley with 13 points apiece, and Menendez scored 12.
"My shot has not been working too well the past couple of games before this," Menendez said, "but this was a good night to have it finally go down. And that's a tribute to my teammates' great passes."
Junior guard Lisa Logan was a bright spot for Metea Valley, scoring a game-high 16 points.
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