Balanced Neuqua Valley too tough for West Chicago

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As part of its Senior Night celebration, Neuqua Valley presented each of the six senior members of visiting West Chicago with a bunch of yellow roses.

But that’s where the pleasantries ended.

Malia Smith scored 14 points, Jamie McInerney added 11 points and six rebounds off the bench and Neuqua Valley built a 26-point lead at halftime en route to a 64-33 victory in Upstate Eight Valley play Thursday in Naperville.

Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams’ starting five included senior guard Lauren Deveikis, who missed the last five weeks with an injury to the thumb on her shooting hand. But the thumb didn’t seem to bother the 5-5 sharpshooter, who buried a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 33-9 lead late in the second quarter.

“I didn’t tear my ligament, but I came super close,” said Deveikis, who scored seven points. “I didn’t like watching (from the bench). Of course, I’m always there to support my team, but it’s great to be back on the court. I like it when I’m able to contribute.

“Monday (a victory over Trinity at the McDonald’s Shootout) was big. We’re rolling on energy right now. That was huge for us. I think we’re just going to go up and away from now on.”

Junior Bryce Menendez added eight points and Najee Smith had five steals for No. 11 Neuqua Valley (17-5, 8-0).

“The one thing we keep talking about is that offensively on any given night anybody can score for us,” Williams said. “The one thing that’s been consistent for us is that our defensive scheme has always been one that causes conflict for the other team. That’s what we bank on.

“Monday night was a big one for us against Trinity. That gave us a whole lot of confidence. We’re loose, we’re feeling good about ourselves, even the supplemental players are coming in and we’re starting to see some good things from them.”

West Chicago coach Kim Wallner would have liked to see more balls going through the basket for her team (4-17, 1-8), which got seven points apiece from Shelly Molskow and Mae Elizabeth Gimre and six points from Kelsey Windisch.

“They did try to do what we were asking them to do, it’s too bad a few more shots didn’t go in,” Wallner said. “His (Williams’) team is pretty athletic, pretty big and pretty quick. We don’t always see that kind of speed.

“I thought we were doing some real nice things, we just didn’t finish enough.’’

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