Metea Valley avenged a Jan. 10 loss to Bartlett on Friday night with defense and accurate free-throw shooting.
The Mustangs held Bartlett scoreless for an eight-minute stretch between the second and third quarters and connected on 9 of 10 free throws in the game’s final five minutes, leading to a 60-55 senior night win over the Hawks in Aurora.
In addition Metea Valley came back from a 5-point fourth-quarter deficit by holding the Hawks scoreless from 4:34 to the 54.5-second mark in the fourth quarter.
“We thought we gave them a game last time we played,” Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza said. “We were up late and things kind of fell a part for us. Tonight, (Bartlett) made a run and got up by five, but we preached to our team to not take chances, play our game and that’s what got us back.”
Justin Busch gave Bartlett its biggest lead of the night with back-to-back 3-pointers from the top of the key that put his team up 24-15 with 6:36 left in the second quarter.
Following Busch’s second 3-pointer, Vozza called time out.
“I thought it was a great call by Bob (Vozza) to call that timeout,” Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith said. “We had a nice run going and after that, I think we had an eight-possession stretch where we turned the ball over eight times. That’s good defense on their part and impatience on our part. I don’t think we were patient enough when we had leads. We tried to get shots off too quickly.”
Coming out of the timeout, the Mustangs (15-11, 7-5) held the Hawks (14-13, 4-8) scoreless over the next eight minutes, going on a 16-0 run during that stretch.
The run started with Marquell Oliver’s layup off an inbounds pass, followed by a Matt Helwig 3-pointer, also on an inbounds play.
Bartlett held a 48-43 lead with 4:34 left in the game as Busch scored six of his team’s first 10 points of the fourth quarter.
Ryan DiCanio was fouled off a rebound and made both free throws to give the Hawks the 5-point lead.
But the Mustangs crept their way back by holding the Tigers scoreless over the next three minutes and pulled away late in the fourth quarter on the strength of a 15-of-16 effort from the free-throw line in the game’s final five minutes.
Oliver was 8 of 8 from the free-throw line during that stretch and 9 of 10 for the game.
“I was just trying to get us in the bonus by attacking the basket,” Oliver said. “We tried to work the ball inside, play inside out and I feel like we were able to take advantage of our matchups.”