Neuqua Valley surprises Waubonsie Valley
It was only 18 days ago that Neuqua Valley lost by 42 points to Waubonsie Valley on its home floor.
You wouldn't believe that if you saw what transpired at Waubonsie Valley on Friday night as the Wildcats pulled off the improbable, stunning their rivals, 58-56, in DVC action.
"They came into our place and they blew us out (70-28 on March 19)," Wildcats senior Connor Davis said. "We knew what we had to do. We had to play really, really hard and give it our all and that's what we did and we won."
Davis had a lot to do with the Wildcats turning things around, but they needed contributions up-and-down the roster as Yale commit John Poulakidas was out sick with the flu. Davis finished with 23 points and added 6 rebounds and 6 assists, while Mark Mennecke scored 11 points, Visagan Subramanian took a couple charges and added 6 points while helping running the offense, and Cole Vonnahme added 9 points and 4 rebounds off the bench.
"Playing without John, we had to really come together and play some team basketball," Mennecke said. "We really had to pick it up a lot tonight and I think that's what led us to the victory."
Neuqua Valley (10-4, 5-4) was able to get to the basket often.
"We were just attacking the basket," Mennecke said. "We were told they were going to go for our shots, so we were going to pump fake and be patient on offense with the basketball and get open looks."
Waubonsie Valley (10-4, 6-3) saw its hope for a conference title end in a loss to DeKalb last Friday. With no other championship left to play for without a state series this year, the Warriors struggled.
"In a year with no state playoffs and you lose a chance at conference last week, I guess we're still in a mourning process," Warriors coach Jason Mead said. "That game looked like we were still in the mourning process, I guess."
The Warriors showed signs of brilliant play at times, erasing a 41-31 deficit to close out the third quarter and open the fourth quarter.
Isaiah Smith (24 points) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close out the third quarter, while a floater from Justin Starks tied the game at 43-43 for the fifth and final time with 6:13 left in the game.
With momentum clearly swinging in the hosts favor, the Wildcats wasted little time in snatching it back. After a couple free throws from Mennecke, a long 3-pointer from Davis and a layup from Nick Porter after a Waubonsie Valley turnover, they took the lead for good at 50-43 midway through the fourth quarter.
"That was a game where the team that won definitely deserved it," Mead said. "They executed better. They played harder. They were just more motivated. They are a team that came out with some pride and didn't want to end their year flat."
Despite their struggles, the Warriors narrowly escaped with what would've been a highlight game-winning shot for the ages.
After making a free throw with 0.7 left, Davis intentionally missed his second try, but Ben Schwieger was able to snag the rebound and do his best Michael Bowden impersonation, firing a baseball-like throw that caromed off the front of the rim 84 feet away, narrowly giving the game an 11th and final lead change.
"(Neuqua Valley was) motivated and they were energized and they played with a lot of discipline, and they were probably not very happy that they lost by 40 to us the first time," Mead said. "They came out and just wanted it and we played like a team that could just turn it on whenever."
Carter Langendorf added 11 points and Schwieger chipped in with 10 for the Warriors.