ST. CHARLES – Nearly a week after one of its most impressive team performances in a victory over Geneva, St. Charles East struggled to find its groove against a pesky yet quick and calm Metea Valley squad in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover battle.
Led by 24 points from senior forward Sean Davis, the Mustangs picked up a 69-64 win over East (5-2) before a nearly-packed gym Thursday.
“I don’t know if we were ready to play right off the bat,” East coach Pat Woods said. “It seemed like we were a little too overconfident.”
East, which was without starter Dave Mason because of the flu, turned the ball over five times in the first three minutes, allowing the Mustangs to pull out to an 8-2 lead.
East bounced back and closed the gap to 8-7 after a 3-pointer from Kendall Stephens, who then pulled the Saints to 13-12 on another 3.
Metea Valley methodically worked through its offense and built its lead back to 34-25 before taking a 36-27 lead at the break.
The Mustangs worked on keeping Saints junior Dom Adduci at bay for most of the first half. Adduci committed his second foul at the 1:47 mark of the second quarter and was forced to sit the remainder of the half with only seven points. He finished with 13.
“We just got deflated because we didn’t play the way we were capable of,” Woods said. “Their defense and their intensity was tough and they shot the ball well tonight.”
Metea Valley continued its assault early in the second half and built its lead to 43-31 after a 3-pointer from Davis with 5:18 left in the third quarter, but the Saints made sure they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
After a front end of a one-and-one free throw from Davis gave the Mustangs a 61-50 advantage with 4:06 left in the contest, East went on a 11-2 scoring run, capped off by a pair or free throws from Stephens, to close within 63-61 with less than three minutes remaining.
Two costly turnovers and an offensive foul, however, turned the game into a free -throw contest that the Mustangs won, converting 11 of their 19 attempts.
Senior forward Ben Skoog added 10 points for East while junior AJ Washington finished with five. East out-rebound Metea Valley, 24-22, but committed 22 turnovers.
“The one glaring stat was 22 turnovers,” Woods said. “But this is only one game in the scheme of things and as long as we get better from it we’ll be fine.”