Senior forward John Konchar has certainly done his fair share to keep his team in games for West Chicago, which is in its first year competing in the Upstate Eight Valley.
Konchar poured in a game-high 26 points Friday against defending Upstate Eight Valley champion Neuqua Valley, finishing about four points shy of his average.
However, behind four players in double figures, Neuqua bore down defensively and used a key second-half run to eventually pull away for a 67-53 win in Naperville.
Matched up with Konchar because of his length, junior Connor Raridon led the Wildcats with 19 points. Senior Josh Piotrowski and junior Demond George added 11 apiece and Chicago State-bound forward Elijah Robertson chipped in 10.
“I think we had a lot of unselfish plays. We had guys making an extra pass to get an open look and we set some good screens,” Raridon said. “I fortunately got open on some guys setting some good screens for me and I was fortunate to knock down some shots.
“It was a game of runs. (West Chicago) made runs. We made runs right back and we were just fortunate to make the last push there at the end and get the win.”
A three-point play from Konchar pulled West Chicago (12-8, 4-5) within four points at 51-47 with 5:39 to go, but Neuqua Valley (15-4, 7-0) responded a final time by using a 16-6 run to end the game.
“Stop the turnovers and get back on ‘D.’ They were getting run-outs. They were getting some easy ones there and we were turning it over,” said Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton, who was coming off his 500th career win on Monday. “That’s it. Just two little things.”
In a first half that featured seven ties and 10 lead changes, the Wildcats ended on a 17-8 run to go into halftime up 33-29. West Chicago converted eight of its first nine shots to start the game.
The trio of Raridon, Piotrowski and Robertson tallied 21 of Neuqua Valley’s 33 points in the first half to help counter a 13-point effort from Konchar.