Neuqua Valley runs past Metea

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/5/2021 10:30 PM

Zack Davis had few options Friday night in Aurora.

The Neuqua Valley 6-foot-6 senior was seemingly out of position as the second quarter came to a close.

 

"I was just trying to get a shot up," Davis said. "We only had 2.3 seconds left. I knew I could not get a pass into the post."

Instead, Davis fired a long-baseline jumper.

The 3-pointer found the requisite destination in the Wildcats' DuPage Valley Conference boys basketball game.

It was yet another deflating moment for Metea Valley in a season dogged by the pandemic.

Neuqua Valley used Davis' field goal as a major impetus in delivering an early knockout blow in its 73-47 victory.

"I just chucked it up, and it just happened to go in," said Davis, who was one of three Neuqua Valley players in double figures with 15 points.

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"It was a big swing in the game," said Metea Valley coach Isaiah Davis, whose team lost its fifth consecutive game in both the league and overall. "The kids really battled and played a good first half."

Davis' 3-pointer enabled the Wildcats to erase with conviction the Mustangs' two 1-point second-quarter leads as the improbable jumper concluded a 7-point unanswered run that gave the team a 34-26 lead at halftime.

Mark Mennecke was exquisite in the second half for Neuqua Valley (9-3, 4-3) in orchestrating the Wildcats' 24-point explosion in the third quarter.

Repeatedly beating defenders off the dribble and finishing with flair in the aftermath, Mennecke burned the Mustangs with 10 of his team-best 16 points in the third quarter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I was just making plays with the ball in my hands," Mennecke said. "At the end of the (third) quarter, I had a ball screen and slipped my defender."

The Wildcats' lead swelled to 58-35 entering the final quarter on the last of the superlative Mennecke finishes -- high off the glass -- in the third.

"He just found holes in the 'D' and did a good job of attacking," Metea coach Davis said of Mennecke.

Nicholas Porter scored 14 points for Neuqua Valley, which was without Yale-bound senior leader John Poulakidas (flu).

Erikas Gurskas fell just shy of becoming a fourth Wildcat to finish with double digits with his 9-point evening.

Malik Bell drained four 3-pointers in amassing his game-high 19 points for the Mustangs.

"It was my best game this season," the Metea Valley senior guard said. "We were setting up screens, and I was just taking open shots."

Neuqua Valley outscored the Mustangs 24-9 in the third quarter.

"We were lacking energy in the third," Bell said. "They got a lot of layups off screen and roll."

The Mustangs' Quentin Schaffer scored all 6 of his points on two 3-pointers.

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