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Metea Valley's Katie Lawrence goes through the Bartlett High School defense for a layup on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at Metea Valley High School in Aurora IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media

Metea Valley saved its best for last in Thursday’s Upstate Eight Valley contest.

The host Mustangs, who have had trouble finishing off games this season, regained the lead late in the third quarter, and finished strong on both offense and defense to defeat conference rival Bartlett 47-34.

Metea Valley (10-3, 5-1), which led for most of the game, went ahead for good at 29-28 and outscored the Hawks 18-6 the rest of the way.

“Our defensive pressure helped a lot,” said point guard Nia Flowers, who led the Mustangs balanced scoring with 12 points. “And, we were more patient with the ball and slowed the game down. When we do that, things work out well.”

“We did a better job of maintaining our composure,” said Metea’s Lori Obendorf, who finished with 11 points. “We picked it up at the end when we needed to and got the W. At the beginning of the fourth quarter it still looked like it could go either way, but we settled down and played to our strengths. We tried not to force things and got the ball inside.”

The Mustangs led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but the Hawks (8-7, 4-2) cut the deficit to 24-21 by halftime behind Ally Giampapa, who was the game’s high scorer with 18 points. She also had five steals.

Bartlett took the lead briefly at 28-27 but Metea righted the ship almost immediately on a basket by Anna Petersen, with a nifty assist by Flowers. And then it was all Metea Valley.

Petersen took down a game-high 14 rebounds.

“In the last few minutes Nia did a great job of running the offense and keeping her composure when the ball was in her hands,” said Metea coach Kris Kalivas.

If the key to the game was Metea keeping its composure, the Hawks showed their inexperience by losing theirs, finishing the game with 21 turnovers.

“Metea was better in the fourth quarter,” said Bartlett coach Denise Serna. “But we can’t give away so many easy opportunities. We just have to be able to finish the game.”

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