Metea Valley beats Waubonsie Valley with defense

One thing bakers and basketball coaches have in common is that they both know that turnovers come in various forms. Basketball coaches treat live-ball turnovers much like a baker would a sardine-and-horseradish turnover—with distaste.

Unfortunately, that was the taste that was left in Waubonsie Valley coach Chaz Taft's mouth on Friday night. He saw a string of live-ball turnovers in the second quarter pave the way for a 75-48 DuPage Valley Conference loss at District 204 rival Metea Valley.

“We tried to make it a half-court game, but they had a layup and two big 3s in transition; that really hurt us,” Taft said. “Those live-ball turnovers turned into points.”

Specifically, the Warriors (4-11, 0-5), who went ahead 11-10 late in the first quarter on Jaquan Brown's basket, were within shouting distance at 21-13 midway through the second quarter when Metea's Ashton Creal turned a steal into a layup and Matt Hellwig followed two more Warriors live-ball giveaways with a pair of 3-pointers, and suddenly the Mustangs (6-7, 2-3) were ahead 29-13 and put the game on cruise control.

“It all started on the defensive end,” said Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza, whose squad recorded 12 steals in the game. “We had opportunities to keep them down, got to the open floor and made things happen.”

Metea's Jeremy Hunter, who was limited to 2 points in the first half, albeit courtesy of a breakaway dunk in the first quarter, almost singlehandedly kept the Warriors at bay in the third quarter as he scored 12 points in less than four minutes. The buckets came from both near and far — a pair of offensive-rebound putbacks and a duo of 3-pointers. When Hunter's spurt concluded, the Mustangs had their biggest lead of the night at 50-25.

“I wasn't touching the ball in the first half, so I wanted to get more involved in the third quarter,” Hunter said. “I was just trying to cut to the ball, offensive rebound missed shots, just going to get it.”

The significant contributions of Creal, Hellwig and Hunter illustrated how many ways the Mustangs can roll up points — 12 players scored on the night — and were especially significant since center Tristan Schlosser spent most of the night on the bench in foul trouble.

For Waubonsie, Brown was the standout performer. He played all 32 minutes and finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and a blocked shot.

“He has to play major minutes and he's playing like a senior should,” Taft said. “He did a great job representing our program tonight.”

At the game's conclusion a short ceremony was held to acknowledge Vozza's 100th win as the Mustangs' coach, quite an accomplishment for a school in only its sixth year of existence.

“It's been a blessing to have the players we've had in the program,” he said. “Their buy-in in the first six years has been great. I give a lot of credit to what they've done.”

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