Waubonsie Valley runs away from Neuqua Valley
There were more one-sided setbacks in recent years than the Waubonsie Valley girls basketball program cares to talk about, but the times they are a changing for these Warriors.
Fourth-year coach Brett Love and his program made big strides last season, and the development has carried over into the 2019-2020 campaign. The host Warriors stormed ahead of Neuqua Valley 25-4 after one quarter on their way to a 73-37 DuPage Valley Conference win Thursday.
With the victory Waubonsie Valley improved to 10-13 on the year and 4-3 in the DVC, including a pair of wins over their neighborhood rivals in the past week.
"It's been really great. We've been working really hard at this," said senior Grace Setter, who had a game-high 10 rebounds. "Especially now with only a couple games left in the regular season, we're real excited to get a win like this and get some momentum."
The Warriors had a rough stretch before Love came on board four years ago, a stretch where wins were rare and double-digit wins over conference rivals were never even dreamed about.
But Setter is part of veteran team that has grown into a team no one expects to push around anymore. The experienced roster also includes senior Ahniya Melton, who scored a personal-best 27 points in the impressive win over the Wildcats (10-16, 0-7).
"It's been good to improve these last few years as coach came in," said Setter, who added 3 steals and 3 assists. "We're just more and more optimistic. And even though it's our last year we're just so excited about what the program can do in the future."
Melton scored six baskets in the first quarter and had 14 points at the half, which came to a close with the Warriors on top 43-24. She added five more field goals in the third quarter as the lead grew to 67-30.
"It always feels great to beat Neuqua. We've had our ups and downs, but it's all coming together," said Melton, whose previous high mark was 25 points in a win over DeKalb earlier this year. "Coach's first year was my first year ... I've been here for the new culture and all of it (growth)."
Love said his players have bought into studying the game more and working hard in practice. The efforts appear to be paying off quite well.
"We've been working on what type of team we need to be to be successful in the postseason," Love said. "I think they're buying into a lot more and they're being patient. Letting the game come to us. A lot of it is just through hard work and understanding the game. This year there's been a lot of focus on basketball IQ -- what to do, when to do it. Where to be and things like that."
Mykah Berkompas played a big role in the team's fast start with a pair of 3-pointers and 10 first-half points. Lauren McKnight added 12 points for the Warriors.
Wildcats sharpshooter Ellie Wisner busted out for 14 points in the second quarter and led Neuqua Valley with 18 points on the night.
"We just played them last week and lost by 6," Wildcats coach Mike Williams said. "At this stage of the game, you're just trying to say the right things to stay motivated. It's the hardest thing to do. Right now everybody's head is down. It's tough. When you're on top it's easy."