Friday night’s 73-49 victory at Naperville Central was more than just a DuPage Valley Conference victory for the Metea Valley boys basketball team.
It ended the first half of the conference season and put the Mustangs at 3-2 after a slow start to DVC play.
“It’s a big win. We’re tied for second,” said junior Will Ashford who was one of three Mustangs to score in double digits. he had 11
Metea (12-5 overall) lost two of his first three league games in December.
“It was a rough start. We were in a shooting slump. But we worked in practice and started talking to them more. And we improved our defense,” Ashford said.
Nick Schroeder, who led Metea scorers with 16 points including four 3-point baskets, said it was important to look beyond Central’s record (6-13, 0-5) and focus on what they put on the court.
“We had to pull through and not underestimate them. We shared the ball well and tried to keep them under 50,” said the junior.
The Mustangs led 16-13 after the opening quarter and the Redhawks stayed with them until just under four minutes remained until halftime.
At the 4:07 mark, Central’s Simon Krugliakovas, who scored a game-high 21 points, sank two free throws to pull his team to within 25-24.
Metea responded by finishing the quarter on a 13-5 run to lead 38-29 at intermission.
Redhawks coach Pete Kramer is proud of how his team has continued to respond in tough times this season. But he stressed that if Central is to have additional success this season, parts of its game have to change.
“The biggest thing with us is a three- to four-minute span where we lose it. We forget what we’re trying to do. We turn the ball over, we don’t defend well and we don’t shoot the ball well,” he said.
Metea’s lead grew to 20 for the first time with 4:11 remaining in the game on Jahki Gray’s three-point play.
Also scoring in double digits for the Mustangs was James Parker with 10.
Naperville Central’s Jackson First hit for 12 points.
Like Metea, the Redhawks (5-13, 0-5) are also facing the second half of the DVC season. Kramer said another important part of Central’s game has to improve.
“The big key is to take care of the basketball. If we take care of the ball and play to our strengths, we usually have success,” Kramer said.
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