From the breast pocket of his gray suit jacket, Waubonsie Valley boys basketball coach Jason Mead produced his game plan for Neuqua Valley. "Fight through their runs" was one of the keys.
Neuqua Valley's scoring run came immediately after tipoff of Tuesday's DuPage Valley Conference contest. The host Warriors turned the tables for a 65-49 victory in Aurora.
"They just so happened to make (a run) the first four possessions of the game, where we'd turn the ball over every possession and they got wide-open shots every possession because we didn't do anything that we were supposed to do," Mead said.
Indeed, Neuqua Valley (7-16, 3-8) forced turnovers on the Warriors' first four possessions. Dubem Ogbuefi, John Poulakidas and Ryan Lake staked the Wildcats to an 8-0 lead over Waubonsie (11-13, 5-6).
"We were playing 'D.' On offense we were moving the ball well. We were getting open, we were setting screens," said Neuqua guard Ryan Herdman, whose 8 points joined Ogbuefi and Stephen Ruiz for team honors.
"I mean, just those first five minutes were great. That's how we've got to play for the whole 32 minutes of the game, and that's not what we did tonight," Herdman said.
After closing the first quarter in a rush to tie at 15-15, Warriors guard Eric Cannon's steal and layup capped a 20-3 run spanning the first and second quarters to go up 23-15.
"Once we stopped allowing them to get what they wanted," Mead said, "it made it a whole lot easier for us to do things."
Waubonsie forward Marcus Skeete maintained the momentum with 12 points in the second quarter, pacing the Warriors' 37-22 halftime lead. Skeete finished with a personal-high 23 points plus 8 rebounds.
"We knew we had to take it step by step," the 6-foot-4 sophomore said. "We came out really slow, so in the huddle we really talked to each other and said we've got to pick it up. We knew we had to apply pressure because they were just dismantling us on offense and defense."
Despite the efforts of Herdman, Ogbuefi and Ruiz -- also a football place-kicker with a New Mexico offer -- Neuqua didn't get closer than 12 points in the second half.
Waubonsie guard Derrien Porter and Nikhil Khanna scored 8 and 9 points, respectively, to help avenge Neuqua's 53-46 victory on Dec. 8.
"We thought it'd come down to the last shot," said Wildcats coach Todd Sutton, "but obviously I was wrong."