Big second quarter lifts Neuqua Valley to easy win

SHARE Big second quarter lifts Neuqua Valley to easy win

Neuqua Valley had Joliet West outnumbered Wednesday night in the Class 4A Plainfield South Regional semifinal.

The Neuqua Valley lineup had 14 players compared to just eight for Joliet West, whose roster had a bout of ineligibility and sickness.

West managed to keep the game tied at 13-13 near the end of the first quarter, but Neuqua held the Tigers to four points in the second quarter and rolled to a 77-33 victory.

“West came out and they were ready to play,’’ Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams said. “We kind of stood around and maybe thought they were just going to lay down and let us win.’’

Neuqua Valley outscored West 17-4 in the second quarter to take a 32-17 lead at halftime.

“We had some inspiring words to our team and they came out and did what they normally do, played team ball and great defense,’’ Williams said.

“The second quarter was a good defensive stand on our part. That got us going and we got some rhythm going offensively.’’

Neuqua Valley (25-5) put the game out of reach in the third quarter, outscoring West 28-6.

The Wildcats had four players finish in double figures—Najee Smith, Bryce Menendez and Kai Moon each scored 13 points. Niki Lazar contributed 12 points and nine rebounds.

Monica Barefield led Joliet West (10-18) with 14 points.

“Usually we have depth. You could tell we were gassed in the second half,’’ Joliet West coach Kevin Michaels said. “They went into that second gear and we just couldn’t match the intensity in the second half.’’

Neuqua advances to the regional championship game at 7 p.m. Friday.

“We’re going to have to come out a little more focused from here on out as you get down the line and teams get tougher,’’ Williams said.

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