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Girls Basketball: Unbeaten Neuqua Valley edges Metea Valley

MaliSmith NeuquValley fouls Lori Obendorf (25) MeteValley under basket. | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

Malia Smith of Neuqua Valley fouls Lori Obendorf (25) of Metea Valley under the basket. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 30, 2012 11:59PM

If they just stay within shouting distance, the Neuqua Valley Wildcats are probably going to catch the opposition at the end.

On Friday, the Wildcats’ energy, depth and pressure defense won the day again, as Neuqua, which was trailing for the entire game, finally caught visiting Metea Valley in the fourth quarter and pulled out a 60-53 win against its Upstate Eight Valley Division rival.

The Wildcats remained undefeated at 8-0 on the season and went to 2-0 in conference.

“We have a lot of components that are really working,” said Neuqua coach Mike Williams. “And our pressure defense seems to wear people out. This game was a good jump-start to get us going.”

With the Metea Valley bigs Lori Obendorf and Anna Petersen controlling the boards, the Mustangs (4-2, 0-1) built a 19-8 lead after one quarter of play.

But the Wildcats narrowed the gap to 30-26 at halftime and threatened to take the lead early in the third quarter, but could never quite catch the Mustangs, who led 40-33 at the end of the third.

But then the fourth quarter belonged to Neuqua, which caused numerous turnovers and came alive on offense under the leadership of freshman point guard Myia Starks, who scored nine points in that period.

The Wildcats evened the score at 46-46 with Niki Lazar hitting a three-pointer with just under four minutes to go.

Metea Valley held the lead again briefly but then Lazar hit another three to tie and Bryce Menendez stole the ball on the next Metea possession and finished with a layup at the other end to put the Wildcats ahead for good.

“At the beginning our nerves got the best of us,” said Lazar, who missed the prior two games with an ankle injury that is still not completely healed. “But then we calmed down and played our game in the second half. We started to box out more and double-teamed them on the dribble..”

“Starks took the reins when Malia Smith fouled out,” said Williams. “And Lazar did a phenomenal job.”

Starks led Neuqua with 14 points and Najee Smith hit 11 points. Allison Hedrick, who played shutdown defense in the fourth quarter, and Menendez scored 10 apiece.

Obendorf scored 20 for the Mustangs and Petersen grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.

“Our two biggest issues are composure and selfishness,” said Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas. “And until we fix those two things we’re not going to win against good teams. You can’t give up 60 points and expect to win. We don’t have a point guard to control the tempo of the game. We throw the ball away and we hang our heads when we get down. We’ve played here enough times to know the storm is coming in the fourth quarter.”

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