Just when it looked like West Chicago was about to give Neuqua Valley a run for the money Saturday night, the Wildcats demonstrated why they are an explosive team.
A 36-5 run in the second half propelled Neuqua to its fifth straight win, 86-64, over West Chicago in Upstate Eight Valley action.
Neuqua shot 58 percent (39-of-51) from the field and had five players score in double digits.
“We have had two great weeks of practice,” Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton said. “The intensity has been phenomanal and that has been carrying over to the games.”
Neuqua (6-2, 4-0) jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game and led by as many as 15 points in the first half. However, West Chicago pulled to within 39-37 early in the third quarter and had a chance to tie with John Konchar at the line shooting two free throws.
But after Konchar missed both, Neuqua took a timeout and came back on a whole different level, scoring the next 11 points and eventually extending its advantage to 75-44 by early in the fourth quarter. Neuqua hit 10 of 12 shots from the field and made 13 of 14 free throws during the run.
“We just took a timeout to break the momentum,” Sutton said. “But I am even stunned by what we did after that. We weren’t running any thing different on offense. Every thing just cklicked all at once. We had a whole lot of people step up.”
Connor Raridon helped get Neuqua off to its fast start with three three-pointers in the first quarter. He finished with a team-high 15 points. Zachary Lendino added 12. Josh Piotrwoski, Demond George, and Jacob Eminger each had 11.
“I think it is such a good thing when we have that many players contributing instead of counting on one or two players,” Piotrwoski said. “I think we are starting to find ourselves as a team and understand our individual roles.”
The loss for West Chicago (5-4, 2-2) spoiled a milestone night for Konchar, who surpassed 1,000-career points with a three-pointer late in the second quarter. He finished with a team-high 26.
“The numbers are going to keep rolling for him,” West Chicago coach Bill Recchia said. “It’s a great accomplishment by a great player.”