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Keyed by a second quarter run of offense-created-by-defense, Metea Valley turned a close contest into a comfortable margin and held onto it the rest of the way at East Aurora on Friday.
Capitalizing on 14 first half East turnovers, the Mustangs (11-6, 6-2) cruised to a 67-52 Upstate Eight Valley victory.
“Coach (Bob Vozza) always says that our transition game allows us to score,” said Melvin Meeks, who knocked in two threes near the end of a 19-9 Metea run in the second. “My teammates found me in an open position, and I had confidence in my shot.” Meeks led the balanced Mustang scoring with 11 points.
Leading only 18-15 a minute into the second, Metea turned up the pressure. Derek Coleman drained a three and had a layup created by a turnover. Following Meeks’ treys, Marquell Oliver picked East’s pocket and made a layup 54 seconds before the half, and the Mustangs led 37-20, and bumped it to 39-24 at the buzzer.
“Coach tells us that defense wins game and the best defense will win conference,” said Coleman. “We played our hardest defense when we need it the most. We wanted to make a run.”
The Tomcats were held to 9 of 21 shooting in the half, and Metea was at 52 percent, making 15 of 29.
East (3-15, 1-7), which was missing high scoring guard DeJon Talbert, who is under the weather, made a mini-run . Jonathan Villezcas (game high 15 points) put in two offensive rebounds, and Fred Reynolds made one from short range to cut the margin to 48-34 near the end of the third.
But Trayvond Taylor continued to handle the ball well and control the pace for the Mustangs, and scored twice from close range, one coming on a Sean Davis assist.
“We pressured them, got a couple of steals, and Sean and I had a couple of assists,” said Taylor. “Our second team has been pushing us in practice, and as long as they keep it up, we’ll do well.”
Peetie Davis (12 points) had two three-pointers for East in the fourth quarter as the teams played evenly in the period.
Long range shooting was not a game factor as Metea made only six of 22 (46 percent overall) , and the Tomcats only three of 14 (40 percent overall).
“They’re aggressive defensively and took us out of a lot of things we were trying to do,” said East coach Wendell Jeffries. “We were down a couple guys, and didn’t have very good guard play tonight.”
The Tomcats now get ready to host West Aurora in the 100th year anniversary of the rivalry.