Neuqua Valley shuts down Glenbard East
Neuqua Valley allowed Glenbard East a brief window of opportunity, then quickly closed it.
Hosting the Upstate Eight Conference boys basketball game, the Rams drew within 2 points of the Valley Division leaders early in the third quarter. Neuqua Valley forced 4 straight turnovers, went on a 13-2 run and it was not close again.
Led by Joe Sieger and Connor Raridon with 10 points apiece, Neuqua Valley (21-3, 10-1) earned a 61-42 victory over Glenbard East in Lombard.
"That was our goal coming out of halftime, three stops in a row," said Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton. "We didn't get the first three, but after that we did get four or five in a row."
Junior forward Mike Finley led Glenbard East with 13 points. He followed Justin Gilford's putback basket right out of halftime with two free throws to bring the Rams within 25-23 of Neuqua. Glenbard East (11-13, 5-6) didn't score again for nearly four minutes.
"We were very close, but we turned the ball over too many times, way too many times," said Finley, who added 7 rebounds. "As we turned the ball over our offense wasn't conducting as we should. The defense was there but our offense just wasn't and that's one of our keys."
Neuqua point guard Demond George -- who despite foul trouble joined teammates Zach Lendino and Jacob Cushing with 8 points each -- answered the Rams rush with a 3 from the top of the key and two free throws to push the margin to 30-23.
Playing a 1-2-2 zone defense, Glenbard East couldn't corral a rebound on a series of Neuqua misses and when it did, turned the ball over. Sieger made the Rams pay on a 3 from George's inbounds pass for a 33-23 Neuqua lead.
"The plan was just to get inside, just dominate inside the lane, spread it out for our shooters outside and we started executing in the second half," said Lendino, who closed the third quarter on two baskets in the paint.
Finley assisted on a Bryce Roberts bucket to temporarily halt the damage, which continued with 5 straight Raridon points for a 38-25 Neuqua lead at 2:02 of the third quarter. The Wildcats entered the fourth ahead 42-27.
Glenbard East gained its initial momentum before halftime. Sophomore point guard Terrance Lakes rallied from a 17-9 Neuqua lead with 8 of his 10 points on pretty drives to the hoop. But the Rams made only 2 of 6 free throws in the second quarter, 9 of 16 for the game to go with 19 turnovers.
"There was that window there," Rams coach Scott Miller said, "we could have had a lead at halftime and maybe get them to believe even a little bit more."