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Despite having an unbeaten team facing off against a winless team Saturday, Neuqua Valley girls basketball coach Mike Williams had some concerns.
His Wildcats had just gone through an emotional win over rival Metea Valley Friday night, and then had to turn around for a 2:30 p.m. tip-off against their other rival, Waubonsie Valley, Saturday on the road.
After a sluggish start, however, Neuqua held serve in a 55-26 win to move to 9-0 on the season, 3-0 in the Upstate Eight Valley.
“This is one of those games where I was a little nervous because last night we had a really emotional, physical game,” Williams said. “They came out and did what they had to do. We talked about the letdown, but they played last night also (against South Elgin).”
A pair of free throws from Waubonsie’s Andrea Colin to start the second quarter cut the Neuqua lead to 13-10. But after that, the Wildcats started to convert on their multitude of turnovers to gain some separation. A 12-0 run keyed by five points from Allison Hedrick pushed the lead to 25-10. Six points at the end of the half from freshman Myia Starks staked Neuqua to a 31-14 lead at the break.
“It was such a big game yesterday that we’re still pumped up from it,” Hedrick said. “Some of us were a little tired, our muscles were tired, but we were ready to play. We didn’t convert well in the first quarter.”
Neuqua put the game away for good by scoring the final point of the third quarter and the first 15 of the fourth to open a game-high 53-22 lead on Waubonsie (0-7, 0-2).
Thanks to winning the turnover battle by 28, Neuqua attempted three times as many shots as Waubonsie, limiting the Warriors’ chances on the offensive end.
“Until we get better at it, everybody’s going to press us,” Waubonsie coach Dave Owles said. “It was a struggle today. I’m not really upset with how we ran our offense. The problem was that we never really got to our offense. That’s something that we have to keep working on. It wasn’t lack of effort.”
Ryaen Johnson paced Waubonsie with seven points, six rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Hedrick led all scorers with 20 points for Neuqua. Malia Smith added 10 points.
Neuqua made it through the first week of conference play and into December with a perfect 9-0 record, but the Wildcats don’t want to stop there.
“It’s pretty exciting, but we’re not satisfied,” Hedrick said. “We’re trying to push to the next level.”