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Article updated: 3/3/2014 11:25 PM
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Shots don't fall for Neuqua
 

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Shots don't fall for Neuqua
  • Neuqua Valley’s Najee Smith, left, gets a hug from teammates as she comes off the floor during their loss to Whitney Young in Class 4A supersectional girls basketball at Hinsdale Central on Monday.

    Purchase Photo | Neuqua Valley’s Najee Smith, left, gets a hug from teammates as she comes off the floor during their loss to Whitney Young in Class 4A supersectional girls basketball at Hinsdale Central on Monday. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Jacob Onak

When you face the best team in the state, the last thing you want is shooting woes.

That's exactly what happened to Neuqua Valley in its 57-39 loss to Whitney Young in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central girls basketball supersectional on Monday.

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The Wildcats struggled to hit their open shots all night, going 2 of 25 from the 3-point line, and when it came time to try and drive the ball they ran into Whitney Young's 6-foot-5 senior center Khaalia Hillsman.

"We've never played a post quite that large before, but today we needed our shots to fall and it wasn't happening," said Neuqua Valley senior Najee Smith. "You got a 6–foot–5 post in the paint so that kind of shut down our driving, but we did what we could."

In the first quarter the Dolphins got out to a 15-7 lead, but a slow second quarter in which both teams only scored 6 points a piece gave the Wildcats some hope when they went into halftime trailing 21-13.

"We started with telling them we weren't thinking they played very good at halftime," said Whitney Young coach Corry Irvin. "We just kind of told them I don't think we were following our game plan as well as we should have in the first half. … We needed to do the things we talked about doing in from the tip of the game."

The hope the Wildcats had quickly disappeared when Whitney Young came out of the gates flying. The Dolphins went on a 9-0 run to start the half and threw down a 21-point third quarter for a 43-19 lead.

Hillsman -- who had 4 points and 3 blocks in the first half -- came out and basically planted herself under the basket, dropping 14 points in the second half alone, totaling a game-high 18 points.

While Hillsman did the damage under the hoop, junior Madinah Muhammad did hers from behind the arc throwing in three 3-pointers and finishing the night with 14 points.

Neuqua Valley finally found some offensive rhythm, but its 20-point fourth quarter was a reminder of what could have been rather than a momentum changer.

"We're typically 35-45 percent 3-point shooting team," said Wildcats coach Mike Williams. "I think we were 5 of 36 in the first half. On any given night I can't remember when we shot that poorly. I'm not taking away anything from Whitney Young … but we had some shots. A lot of layups that wouldn't go in and a lot of putbacks that wouldn't go in."

The Wildcats didn't have one player score in the double digits. Smith and Kai Moon each had a team-high 8 points.

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