When South Elgins bus turned into the Metea Valley parking lot Thursday night, the Storm must have seen the message on the marquee congratulating senior guard Bria Walker for her 1,000th varsity point.
But make no mistake, the Storm players and coaches knew Mustangs sophomore point guard Nia Flowers and senior center Lori Obendorf would be at least as dangerous.
Flowers racked up 17 points, Obendorf delivered 16 and Walker contributed 14 as Metea Valley held off a South Elgin rally to earn a 66-57 Upstate Eight Valley victory in Aurora.
Junior forward Kennede Miller scored 19 points to lead the Storm, which chopped a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to 57-52 with 2:59 to play.
Then each of the Mustangs Big Three scored a basket to put away the game. The 6-foot-2 Obendorfs short turnaround in the lane eased the late pressure on Metea Valley (18-4, 8-2).
We had some matchup problems with (Obendorf), said South Elgin coach Tim Prendergast. Shes just money around the basket. Shes very steady. Shes patient. She doesnt rush things. Shes been a problem for us for the past couple years, not just today.
Obendorf shot 7 of 10 from the post, while Flowers mixed slick drives with 17-foot pullups and 3-pointers to go 7 of 11 from the floor. Her driving lefty layup with 1:13 left ended the suspense.
I think shes a D-I player, a big-time D-I player, Prendergast said. Theyve got a lot of firepower.
South Elgin (12-10, 3-5) saved its firepower for the second half. The Storm shot just 30 percent in the first half and trailed 25-20.
The Storm started to roll once they started poking holes in Metea Valleys defense and finding Miller open inside.
On back-to-back third-quarter possessions, junior point guard Savanah Uveges attacked the lane and delivered nifty passes to Miller for easy layups.
Then, after Metea took a 55-41 lead with 6:19 left on a Flowers driving layup, Miller reeled off 7 points in a row as South Elgins full-court pressure took its toll on the hosts.
I think we panicked a little bit, Flowers said. We didnt really set up any press-break to get us off and get the ball up the court.
Miller hit two more free throws at the 2:59 mark to cut the margin to 57-52, but South Elgin couldnt get closer.
Were just a little up and down right now, said Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas, whos been seeking better defense and rebounding since 6-foot-2 center Anna Petersen tore her ACL three weeks ago. Weve got to have more ups than downs.