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Article updated: 12/12/2012 10:51 PM

Neuqua Valley runs by Batavia

By Kevin McGavin

There were many telling signs when Neuqua Valley and Batavia met in third-round action of the Oswego Girls Basketball Holiday Classic.

From the Wildcats' 13-0 first-quarter run that would create separation for the entire game to their bench outscoring their counterparts from Batavia 39-3, there was no denying the turnover category.

Neuqua Valley did not lose a single possession in the first half to a miscue, while the Bulldogs were well into double figures early in the second quarter.

The Wildcats extended their season-opening winning streak to 14 games with an 80-46 victory over Batavia, which also entered the game undefeated in its first two games of the eight-team tournament.

"I don't remember (that ever happening) at all," said Mike Williams, the only coach in program history, on no turnovers in a half.

Niki Lazar pumped in a 3-pointer only seconds into the game, and Neuqua Valley never trailed the remainder of the contest.

Seven different players scored for the Wildcats during their 16-2 game-opening burst.

Utilizing quickness from all five positions on the floor, the Wildcats terrorized the Bulldogs' passing lanes.

Substituting frequently, it was as if the Wildcats had little, if any, drop-off in production.

Freshman Maya Starks was a catalyst as the sixth-man for Neuqua Valley, torching Batavia for a game-high 18 points.

"We have so much depth," Neuqua Valley senior Allison Hedrick said. "We have played together all summer. We all knew what girls were going to be on the team. We developed that chemistry right away. Everyone who comes in plays great."

Neuqua Valley triggered its offense with defensive pressure, forcing 10 steals in the first half with almost identical production.

The Wildcats (14-0) doubled up Batavia (8-4) to lead after the first, 20-10, and entered the break with a 41-22 cushion after another 20-point-plus second quarter.

Liza Fruendt was the lone Batavia player to score from the field in the second quarter as her two 3-pointers enabled the squad to stay with a respectable range.

"Five solid players out, five solid players in," Fruendt said of the Wildcats' depth and balance off the bench. "You can't just keep an eye on a couple of people to score. The whole (Neuqua Valley) team is a threat."

Kai Moon and Lauren Deveikis combined for 17 points for Neuqua Valley in reserve roles, while starting twin sisters Malia and Najee Smith added 13 and 7 points, respectively.

"Our quickness has been carrying us," Williams said of his unbeaten squad. "Everybody has an integral part to play."

Erin Bayram scored a team-high 15 points and snared a game-high 10 rebounds to lead Batavia; Fruendt added 14 points, but no other Batavia player scored more than a single field goal.

"It's humbling when you run into someone that talented," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "We showed some fight. (The Neuqua Valley level) is where we want to get."

Neuqua Valley will meet the winner of Naperville Central and host Oswego on Saturday for the championship; Batavia will play the third-place game against whoever falls in the game.

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