Konkle helps Metea Valley to OT win vs. Naperville North
The Metea Valley girls basketball roster reads freshman next to Ashley Konkle's name, but the Mustangs post player has been playing more like an experienced veteran so far this season.
Konkle came up big late in Saturday's 63-59 overtime defeat of visiting Naperville North as Metea Valley notched its first win as a member of the DuPage Valley Conference. The back-and-forth contest was tied at 54-54 at the end of four quarters and the Huskies had leads of 57-54 and 59-56 before Konkle recorded back-to-back putbacks to put the hosts on top for good at 60-59.
"At crunch time like that, anytime I get a chance like that, I know I have to finish because it's part of my job," said Konkle, who finished with a game-high 22 points as the Mustangs improved to 3-5 on the year and 1-1 in the DVC. "Both times I was blocked at first and I got my own rebound. I just thought, I have to make it, it's crucial."
It's crucial that Metea Valley's post players shine while a new backcourt develops this winter. With Konkle, center Skye Lane and forward Brianna Hall all coming up big, the Mustangs used their size advantage to prevail in the tight contest. Lane had 11 points and 6 rebounds and Hall, who missed Wednesday's loss to Neuqua Valley due to illness, had 11 points and 7 rebounds against Naperville North (3-2, 0-2).
"We are very lucky to have such tall girls. It's not very common," said Konkle, who had 9 rebounds, all after the first half. "A win like this really helps our confidence especially with it being the DVC and being overtime at home."
For the Huskies, it was a second straight tight DVC loss this week. The visitors had the ball with the score tied with 11.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter but could not get off a shot. Then they looked poised for a win after a Lauren Platou layup and a free throw from Morgan Lockridge gave them a 57-54 lead with three minutes to play, and a pair of Laurel Pereira free throws made it 59-56 a minute later.
But Konkle had her two big second-chance baskets and added a pair of free throws with 13.6 seconds left in overtime to power the Mustangs to victory.
"We run great drills in practice and we have great scrimmages in practice, but it's hard to mimic other teams' intensity levels and their size," Naperville North coach Jason Dycus said. "Let's give Metea Valley some credit. They have a lot of tall girls."
Pereira led the Huskies with 15 points, while CeCe Pope added 14 points and sophomore Lauren Platou had 6 points and 5 steals. But Dycus believes his team needs to get a little tougher in terms of claiming loose balls and rebounds that are up for grabs.
"Every girl has to get tougher," he said. "What has happened this season is we'll box out, the girl will get the rebound, we'll get our hands on it, and she'll get a putback. No. 31 (Konkle) did that twice in overtime and she scored on second chances. We've got to drive her back. You've got to force the refs to call the foul there.
"We don't put the girls in situations to do that and that's our fault. Kind of like what Tom Izzo says at Michigan State: Tough teams win. And we're not real tough right now."