Girls basketball: DeKalb rally falls short against Metea Valley
DeKALB - After jumping up by as much as 22 points in the first half then holding off a furious DeKalb rally for a 53-49 win on Thursday, the Metea Valley girls basketball team celebrated in its locker room after the win.
Then the Mustangs (5-16, 1-5) went out to the court for some photos after their first DuPage Valley Conference win since March 2021.
"I am so excited," said Cailtlin Clish, who scored 24, including going 5 for 9 from 3-point range. "Our team has practiced so much and our record, it doesn't show it, but I feel like we played our best. Our record doesn't show how good of a team we are. We did here today."
DeKalb (11-10, 1-4) turned the ball over seven times in the first 2 minutes, 38 seconds as the Mustangs scored the first nine points. The lead grew to 22-4 early in the second and by as much as 33-11 before halftime.
But the Barbs drew to within 49-47 with 1:46 left on a layup from Cayla Evans, who had six points, six rebounds and five steals in the loss. It capped a 9-0 run that started with five points by Kailey Porter, part of her 15-point performance.
But Raina Penttila connected on her free throws after the Mustangs ran almost 40 seconds off the clock, then the Barbs committed their 22nd and final turnover of the game, never getting closer than four in the final minute.
"We wanted to start the game quickly cause that's a key for us," Metea coach Keith McIntosh said. "We did that tonight. We jumped out on them, then just held on."
DeKalb committed 13 turnovers in the first quarter, but only nine for the rest of the game. Coach Brad Bjelk said his team came out dry in the first half but started valuing the basketball more in the second half, with just two turnovers in a 20-point fourth quarter.
"People stepped up," Bjelk said. "Olivia Schermerhorn stepped up. She's a freshman but she handled the ball well. I thought her effort on defense was excellent. And I think we just valued the possession a little more collectively. You just can't turn the ball over and win."
Sophomore Brytasia Long, who scored 12 points in the junior varsity game, came off the bench to score nine to go with five rebounds. The DeKalb bench outscored Metea's, 23-0.
The Barbs had been held under 30 points in the first three games of its current four-game losing streak, and with just 11 points at halftime seemed destined to make it four in a row.
"I think they were committed to execute," Bjelk said. "Not one person is going to beat five people. It takes five girls executing, trusting each other, trusting the play, and we were able to execute and run a few of our sets much better in the second half."
McIntosh said this was the first time the Mustangs had to face a serious comeback attempt after they've taken a lead this year. Clish said the team remained positive and came out with the win.
"We had to chill down, and we did," Clish said. "We made some mistakes but we still took care of the ball. All we had to do was calm down and let the defense work."
Jamie Nosek had nine rebounds for Metea Valley. Reese Valha had five steals and Clish had four. Penttila scored 13 and Sreehi Duggirala added 10.
McIntosh said he liked the way the Mustangs battled through some fourth-quarter adversity for the win.
"Honestly, it was a struggle trying to get them to take care of ball, run some clock and yet be aggressive," McIntosh said. "So that's a fine line for this basketball team. But I felt the toughness is needed. I don't feel the game was called how it should have been called. There was a lot of stuff going on out there that wasn't getting called. So we have to be tough. We're on the road, we're in DeKalb's gym, you've got to earn it."