Metea Valley edges Naperville North
Metea Valley senior guard Myles Leavy and his teammates had been down this road before, and he wanted to make sure the Mustangs got to where they needed to get this time around.
After an earlier meeting with Naperville North resulted in a tough loss late, Leavy did everything in his power to ensure that Metea Valley was the victor in this latest DuPage Valley Conference battle. Leavy came up big down the stretch on both ends of the court and finished with a team-leading 18 points as the Mustangs held off the Huskies 67-65.
"It was a close game the first time as well and we had a lead into the final minute," Leavy said. "We didn't close out the right way. We battled the whole way; we were down big and fought back but didn't close it out. This time around we played hard and we went on timely runs and we got the win."
Friday's game was a thriller as both teams exchanged runs and combined to knock down 21 3-pointers. That said, two of the bigger sequences came in the final 25 seconds and had nothing to do with long-range jumpers. After the Huskies Myles Barry closed the gap to 61-59, Leavy hit two clutch free throws and followed them up with a steal that led to a basket by Alex Moreno that put the Mustangs on top 65-59.
That cushion was crucial as Zeke Williams hit from long range for the visitors and Barry then added another 3 at the buzzer, but it was not enough as Metea Valley pulled out the win.
Senior Ethan Tai, one of four Mustangs to score in double figures, had five 3s in the game to finish with 17 points. His two free throws with 2.9 seconds left proved to be the margin of victory as Barry followed them up with his final three points of his 19-point, 5-assist night.
"It feels great," said Tai, who was thrilled to survive after Grant Johnson and Barry combined for 40 points and eight 3s for Naperville North. "We just worked hard each day in practice and we watched film and tonight we executed our plays. Things are going to happen. We've just got to work together and recuperate after big plays from them."
Johnson led all scorers with 21 points, including six 3s, and Riley Thompson added 10 points all in the second half as the Huskies kept battling back every time the Mustangs built seemingly comfortable leads. Metea Valley (10-14, 2-6) led 45-34 following a drive to the rim by Kymari McBride with 3:32 left in the third quarter capped a 9-0 run. But Barry had a three-point play late in the quarter to close the gap to 50-43 and the Huskies stayed close the rest of the way.
"Metea's a really good team," Huskies coach Gene Nolan said after his team dropped to 12-14 on the year and 2-6 in the DVC. "They have so many weapons and ways that they can score. We could never get a handle on their shooters, so there's a lot to learn from tonight. I think Metea's a good team, I really do. They can score in so many ways."