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In the aftermath of his team’s two-point loss at Neuqua Valley last week, Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza stressed a need for his team to score more out of transition.
Hoping to follow up its 38-point victory over East Aurora with a suitable encore, Metea Valley did just that in posting a 64-39 home victory over Lake Park on Friday night in Aurora.
Behind their defense that hounded the Lancers into 28 turnovers, the Mustangs turned defense into offense by using a pair of runs to race out to a lead as big as 19 points in the first half.
Ending the first quarter on a 14-3 run, the Mustangs responded after the Lancers scored the first five points in the second quarter by going on a 12-0 run to open up a 31-12 bulge.
“Coach (Vozza) always says that defense leads to offense,” Metea Valley senior guard Melvin Meeks said. “So we were playing defense and that led us to getting open looks and allowing us to play transition basketball, which is what we excel at.”
Senior forward Sean Davis had nine of his team-high 12 points in the first half for the Mustangs, while Meeks added in eight points in the game’s opening 16 minutes.
With its defense setting the tone, Metea Valley (3-4, 2-1 Upstate Eight Valley) connected on five three-pointers in the first half — including a pair each from Meeks and sophomore Nick Dodson.
Ten different Mustangs scored as Davis, Meeks and senior guard Trayvond Taylor all finished in double figures. Meeks and Taylor finished with 10 points each.
“Our defense just leads to offense,” Taylor said. “If we play hard defense, then we know the points will come. We don’t really care who’s in double digits and who isn’t. We just want to play as a team and win as a team, too.”
Countering the 12-0 run Metea Valley put together to take its 19-point lead of 31-12, Lake Park (5-3, 1-2 Upstate Eight Valley) finished the first half on a 12-3 run to go into halftime trailing 34-24.
But the Lancers couldn’t get any closer than their 10-point halftime deficit in the second half and were led by guard Carlos Cortez’s game-high 16 points.
The Mustangs did a commendable job on Cortez in the second half after the senior scored 12 points in the first half.
“I was disappointed with our last three, four possessions in the first half and I kind of got on some guys about locking him down a little bit,” Vozza said. “I thought we got that lead (in the first half) taking some chances and I wanted (to maintain that lead).
“They did well adjusting to that and then I wanted to go back and play some straight ‘D’. (Cortez) did well with that, but we adjusted well at halftime. I was proud of our (effort on him in the second half). Trayvond and (senior Derek Coleman) did a good job on him.”