Raridon run lifts Neuqua over Waubonsie
Waubonsie Valley boys basketball coach Chaz Taft called it the "Raridon run."
It came Saturday after his Warriors answered an 11-point second-quarter deficit to tie Neuqua Valley early in the third quarter.
Whereupon Neuqua senior Connor Raridon swished a pair of 3-pointers in a 9-0 Wildcats run -- not a huge streak but in a tightly defended contest big enough to send Neuqua Valley past its Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division host, 50-35 in Aurora.
"It was big," said the 6-foot-4 Raridon, who led a balanced Neuqua effort with 13 points, plus 8 rebounds.
"We just got up the floor and started pushing the ball a little more and got some open looks. It really shifted the momentum in our favor there in the third quarter," he said.
Each team had its share of momentum. Neuqua Valley (9-1, 5-1) held Waubonsie Valley to 6 field-goal attempts and only 1 Mark Rullo free throw in a first quarter the Wildcats led 7-1.
"Probably the best defensive weekend we've had maybe ever," said Neuqua coach Todd Sutton, whose Wildcats beat West Aurora 52-47 on Friday.
In the second quarter Raridon, Jacob Cushing, Joe Sieger and Jacob Eminger all chipped in to create an 18-7 lead. Waubonsie (3-7, 1-5), countered when 6-4 senior Logan Yanisch found openings for 12 second-quarter points among his game-high 18.
"He did a good job of getting open, showing his hands and we were dishing him the ball. I think that's what we did a great job of in the first half and that fell off in the second half," said Warriors point guard Chris Karkazis, who scored 14 points.
Karkazis penetrated and passed to Rullo for a basket that pared Neuqua's lead to 20-18 at halftime, then Karkazis' putback tied it 20-20 at 7:21 of the third quarter. The Warriors didn't score again for four minutes.
Sieger made a free throw to break the tie. Demond George stole the ball and passed to Sieger for a hoop, then came Raridon's 3s, the second from the left corner with a defender all over him.
"We just wanted to make sure we stayed composed, that was the big thing," said George, who had 3 steals and joined Zach Lendino with 9 points.
Neuqua took a 34-24 lead into the fourth quarter, then forced 1-of-8 shooting to begin the fourth quarter, going up 40-26 with 3:55 left.
"We just lost key shooters in times that we couldn't," Taft said. "It was in transition, it was in a set play -- just kind of lack of focus with that stuff. The energy, the effort was there, we've got to do a better job of cleaning that stuff up in transition defense."