Norkus sparks Neuqua Valley comeback over rival Waubonsie Valley
Kylee Norkus turned a few heads with her play on Thursday night.
The Neuqua Valley senior forward is riding a hot streak after tallying a career-high 28 points in her last game against Trinity.
Against DuPage Valley Conference rival Waubonsie Valley, Norkus sparked a Neuqua Valley comeback with her scoring, aggressive play and ability to push the pace for transition baskets.
She also made a memorable highlight-reel play with her right arm.
After she tossed a long, one-handed outlet pass - right in front of the Wildcats' bench - to a streaking Nalia Clifford for the final basket of the second quarter, Norkus said her teammates showered her with praise on her quarterback-like arm.
"I saw it and was really confident in throwing it, and she caught it and made it," Norkus said. "At halftime, the girls in the locker room were calling me 'Tom Brady.' That kind of boosted my confidence. I felt it as soon as I passed it, and thought that was a highlight right there."
Throughout the pivotal conference game, Norkus was at the center of the attention, scoring 11 of her 21 points in the first quarter to carry Neuqua Valley to a 59-50 win over Waubonsie Valley.
Caitlin Washington had a big game for the Wildcats, scoring 18 points. Zoe Navarro added 12.
The midseason clash of the top two teams in the conference turned into a quality road win for the Wildcats (10-8, 4-0). After falling behind 8-2 in the first quarter, Norkus, who remains uncommitted, scored her team's first four points to wake them up from a sluggish start.
"Everyone was waiting for this game, so securing this win is a different level of excitement and we're going to keep going with that energy every game," Norkus said.
Waubonsie Valley (13-3, 3-1), off to its best start in a decade, dominated the early minutes of the game by crashing the offensive boards for second-chance points, but struggled slowing down Norkus and Neuqua Valley's transition offense. Senior guard Taylor Curry, who plans to announce her college decision by the end of the month, finished with 16 points and Khaliah Reid had 12 points. Danyella Mporokoso tallied 11.
"It's definitely tough when you start making shots and the game turns and we can't make any outside shots," Waubonsie Valley coach Brett Love said. "Neuqua Valley is a good well-balanced team."
The Wildcats built a 13-point lead late in the third quarter before the Warriors mounted a furious comeback to slice the deficit to 45-43 following a 3-pointer by Mporokoso with 5:40 left in regulation.
The Wildcats clamped down on defense and received a big corner 3-pointer by Navarro to pull out the victory and end a three-game losing streak.
"This is a huge win against a very good team," Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams said. "This was something we knew we had in us. We knew we would be in for a battle because Waubonsie Valley is a good team. Our kids responded."
Curry said the Warriors' late comeback is a good sign for the second half of the season.
"This was a tough loss, but we just have to learn and come back and work on things and pick it up in practice and finish out the season strong," Curry said.