There was a nice stretch late in the first half when Neuqua Valley scored 10 straight points, but it turned out to be only a small speed bump that couldn't slow down Metea Valley for long on Friday night.
The Mustangs had charged out to a 34-13 lead in this DuPage Valley Conference opener, so that 10-point swing wasn't all that scary. In fact, when Cory Adams knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Metea Valley had a 37-23 lead at the break, a little boost, and then put together a solid second half on their way to a 69-52 win in Aurora.
"They did make a little run, but at the end of the second quarter Cory made that 3 going into halftime and that stemmed the tide a little bit," Mustangs coach Matt Walpole said. "Then the way we started the third quarter we sort of re-established ourselves.
"Teams are going to go on runs, but we've got to come back with one of our own and we did in the third quarter and it kind of stayed there the rest of the game."
Junior guard Ethan Helwig, who had tallied 10 of his game-high 19 points in the first three minutes of the game, added three more baskets in the third quarter, which ended with the home team on top 55-37.
"I think the transition offense was one of the key things cause they just found me in the corner off transition and I got most of my points off layups," said Helwig, who added 8 rebounds and a trio of assists to his big night. "It's important for us to get boards. Everyone's scrappy on our team."
The total team effort saw three Mustangs score in double figures and three others score at least 7 as the home team improved to 3-2 on the year. Six-foot-7 center Jens Petersen had 12 points and 6 rebounds, including three baskets inside in the third quarter.
"We were getting good screens, which was enabling us to get good looks and quality shots," Petersen said. "It was a great team win. Everybody contributed. Even if they didn't score they played defense, they rebounded and passed the ball well. I think it was a great team win for everybody."
For the Wildcats, the brief run of excellence in the second quarter was just not enough to hold off the Mustangs.
"They were just at another level than us. Their intensity … it was men against boys tonight," Wildcats coach Todd Sutton said. "They outhustled us without question. They owned the boards.
"That's all about hustle and heart and they showed it tonight."
Noah Herdman knocked down three 3s and led Neuqua Valley (1-4, 0-1) with 15 points. Jonathan Tan had 10 points and Stephen Ruiz added 9 off the bench.