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Metea Valley's Nia Flowers takes a jump shot over Oswego's Amri Wilder on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Trailing at the half against Oswego in Tuesday’s Class 4A Metea Valley Regional semifinals, Metea Valley’s girls basketball team decided it wasn’t time for the program’s best season to come to a close.
Down by four at the break, the Mustangs opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run and never looked back. Metea picked up a 51-43 win to advance to Friday’s regional title game against second-seeded Neuqua Valley, a team Metea lost twice to in Upstate Eight Valley play this season.
“When we came into the locker room at halftime, none of us were happy with the way we played,” Metea senior Lori Obendorf said. “We didn’t want the season to end, nobody does at this point. You always know that the teams are going to be putting their best on the floor at this point in the season. We had to be ready for it, and we didn’t come out ready for it. We turned that around in the second half and we decided that we didn’t want to go home and we wanted it more than them.”
In the first half, Metea (22-6) wasn’t getting the ball inside enough for coach Kris Kalivas’ liking on the offensive end. And on the defensive end, Oswego sophomore Siarra O’Neill consistently broke Metea’s zone to the tune of 15 first-half points. That helped the Panthers (13-13) take a 25-21 lead into the break.
But in the second half, the Mustangs focused on getting the ball inside more and switched junior Jenny Voytell to guard O’Neill on the defensive end. Both practices proved crucial to the comeback and sustaining the lead in the fourth quarter. Metea led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter.
O’Neill only scored two more points. Meanwhile, Voytell led the Mustangs with 16 points in the win in addition to her defensive work.
“Jenny has been so successful and so key for us as of late taking the ball to the hole,” Kalivas said. “When she gets the open look, she’s very good at finishing and she did a good job of that tonight.”
Obendorf and Nia Flowers each scored 14 points for Metea, with Obendorf adding 14 rebounds. O’Neill led the Panthers with 17 points and Amri Wilder added 11.
The Panthers only graduate one player, Rebecca Anderson, off the current roster, so coach Chad Pohlmann hopes his young team learned some lessons in the loss.
“Physically, all of our players have to get stronger,” Pohlmann said. “That’s hours in the weight room and then skills and really working on fundamentals. If we do those things, I think we’ll have a chance to be a pretty good club next year.”