Neuqua Valley seniors rout Minooka
Tuesday was senior night at Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats definitely looked like they had played basketball together four years.
"We've practiced that lineup in practice before," guard Erik Roche said after Neuqua Valley topped nonconference foe Minooka 64-32 in south Naperville.
The celebratory starting five of Roche, Donovan Navarro, Tariq Asim, Nonso Obguefi and Patrick Hoffmann clicked from the get-go. Roche swished the game's first shot, a 3-pointer from the right corner, 25 seconds into the game.
"It was cool. My grandparents got to see it, too," Roche said.
"They were playing a zone so corners were open the whole time, so I just got the mentality when I got the ball I was going to shoot. It just happened to go in," he said.
Asim caught the fever. The lanky forward hit two consecutive 3-pointers for an early 9-0 lead.
"We couldn't really get it inside a lot so we moved it around the perimeter and everybody was knocking down shots, so it worked out. It was a 1-2-2 pretty much the whole night," said Asim, who scored 13 points with 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. He also ended the scoring on a fastbreak off Visagan Subramanian's assist.
When Asim said everybody he meant it. Neuqua Valley (19-6) made 14 of 24 3-point attempts with seven players finding the mark. John Poulakidas made 4 of them and led all scorers with 18 points. Connor Davis hit 2 and scored 8 points.
Navarro's two free throws at the end of the first quarter gave the Wildcats a 16-6 lead. Neuqua led 26-12 midway through the second quarter when Minooka senior guard Trent Hudak pulled his squad within 28-18 at halftime. He made a free throw, sliced to the hoop and hit a fabulous 3-pointer just inside midcourt before the halftime buzzer.
Fits and spurts are a pattern for Minooka (2-22).
"Every game we're starting out slow, and then we always have to fight ourselves back into the game. But we're working on starting off fast so then we don't always have to fight back in every game," said Hudak, who scored 9 points. Jordan Boe scored 6, sophomore Ricky Hill had 5.
Minooka could have made hay when in a rare lull neither team scored the first two minutes of the second half.
"We talked about the first four minutes of the third quarter, we got five stops in a row," Minooka coach Kevin Cain said. "The third quarter, came out, did our job defensively, couldn't do our job offensively to make it a game."
Poulakidas and Davis led another charge to a 40-20 lead. By 4:12 of the fourth quarter, Roche's 3 off an Asim steal gave Neuqua a 59-26 lead. Senior night success.
"They really got together and played as a team," coach Todd Sutton said. "We said before the game, the most important thing about those guys is they're great teammates. I don't know if there's a better compliment in basketball than being a great teammate."