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Lockport's Naomi Mayes attempts to block the shot of Neuqua Valley's Niki Lazar on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at Metea Valley High School in Aurora IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
No team ever likes to lose a game, but perhaps the upset Neuqua Valley’s girls basketball team suffered against Geneva Friday could serve the Wildcats well in the postseason.
They certainly excelled in their first game since that loss. The Wildcats were dominant from wire-to-wire, holding the Porters scoreless in the second half en route to a 72-16 win in the Class 4A Metea Valley Regional semifinals.
Neuqua will face rival Metea Valley in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. regional title game.
“It was a wake-up call, but we kind of needed that,” Neuqua junior Lauren Deveikis said. “We have to know how it feels to lose. It just makes us better and gets us ready for the playoffs. We always turn those into positives.”
A pair of early three-pointers from Deveikis helped set the tone for Neuqua (25-3). The Wildcats jumped out to a 12-2 run to start the game. Then a 15-0 run later in the first quarter, which was keyed by five points from freshman reserve Myia Starks, pushed the lead to 27-4, and Neuqua was on its way.
A 10-0 run to start the second quarter was started by another Deveikis three-pointer and pushed the lead to 39-6.
“That’s my job,” Deveikis said of her early shooting. “I shoot when I can. I just try to help get the team fired up. But all in all, it was a team win.”
That was certainly true in this game. Lockport (12-14) closed to 46-16 late in the second quarter, but nobody knew that would be the last time the Porters would score a point. Neuqua closed the game on a 26-0 run from there, using mostly reserves.
Neuqua scored 41 bench points in the win, led by Starks’ game-high 15 points. Niki Lazar scored nine off the bench. Deveikis was the lone starter in double figures with 11 points, and all but one of the 11 Wildcats that saw action scored.
“We gave some kids an opportunity that they normally don’t get to play,” Neuqua coach Mike Williams said. “Everybody is playing pretty hard right now. There were so many great performances. As we move on, that’s going to be tougher and tougher (getting girls deep on the bench playing time).”
Neuqua’s next step is trying to beat Metea on the Mustangs’ home court Friday for the regional crown.
“We had an awakening against Geneva,” Williams said. “Our goals are lofty and we want to try to make sure we do everything we can. We’re just going to keep it cool and work on a game plan for Friday.”
Lockport had five points from Naomi Mayes and 10 rebounds from Nora Polaski.