Girls Basketball: Neuqua Valley slows South ElginNeuqua Valley's Jenny Voytell (30) reaches in to try to steal the ball from South Elgin's Becca Smith (15) during the first quarter of their game at South Elgin High School Wednesday. January 4, 2012. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 4, 2012 11:12PM
Suffocating full-court press. Transition defense. Balanced offense.
Those were the key ingredients to No. 18 Neuqua Valley’s success this season and proved to be a winning formula on Wednesday night in a 66-60 Upstate Eight Valley victory over host South Elgin.
The clash saw the Wildcats effectively shut down one of the best guards in the area in the Storm’s Becca Smith, limiting her to nine points on 2-of-11 shooting in the first half. This allowed Neuqua Valley (13-1, 3-1) to gain a 24-9 first-half lead which caused South Elgin (11-6, 2-4) to play catch-up basketball the rest of the night.
“Over the years, we have seen Becca for quite a while; we decided to play our game, trapping and pressing and press her every time she touched the ball,” said Wildcats coach Mike Williams.
It worked for three quarters until Smith lit up the stat sheet in the fourth with 15 of her game-high 27 points, helping her team make the game close down the stretch.
“We weren’t used to their zone press and we haven’t been pressed a lot all season,” said Smith.
The Wildcats mixed up their full-court press all game, from man to man to zone, forcing 30 Storm turnovers.
Amarah Coleman led Neuqua Valley with 13 points.
“We knew we had to tighten up our defense and get turnover after turnover,” said Coleman.
The Wildcats amassed 27 rebounds and prevented few second shots by South Elgin. They also were in sync on the offensive end on with 48 percent shooting.
Neuqua Valley will need the added strength of starting senior Megan Doody, who was out sick with the flu as its schedule is packed with nine games in two weeks.