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Metea Valley nips Bartlett
By Seth Hancock | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/15/2013 10:55 PM

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Both teams knew it was going to be a battle, and it was.

The Bartlett and Metea Valley boys basketball teams came in with matching Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division records, and the Hawks won a slim 40-37 victory in their first meeting.

The tables turned this time as the Mustangs (17-9, 9-3) earned a 41-38 victory over the Hawks (19-8, 8-4) on Bartlett’s senior night on Friday.

“It is a win,” Mustang’s coach Bob Vozza said. “At this point in the season, you’re going to get a drag-it-out game, especially against a good team like Bartlett. We always want to pick it up defensively, and we did tonight.”

The Metea defense held Bartlett leading scorer senior Lance Whitaker scoreless in the first half thanks in part to senior Derek Coleman.

“It’s tough to guard Lance, but I thought we defended him well for the most part tonight,” Coleman said.

The Hawks trailed 34-24 early in the fourth quarter after Mustangs baskets from senior Trayvond Taylor and sophomore Bryson Oliver before Whitaker started to find his rhythm.

Whitaker tallied 7 of his 9 points in the fourth quarter including back-to-back layups as the Hawks pulled to within 34-30 with 5:15 left to play. Whitaker later had back-to-back steals and was fouled on both, and went 3 of 4 from the line to tie the score at 37-37 with 1:35 left to play.

“We forced some shots and didn’t do a good job in transition in the third quarter allowing them to take the lead,” said Hawks’ coach Jim Wolfsmith. “We started getting good shots in the fourth, and really, our defense got us back in it, but we made too many mistakes down the stretch.”

The Mustangs struggled at the line for the game hitting 15 of their 29 free-throw attempts, but they also won it at the line. Taylor split a pair at the line and Vin Patel hit two for a 40-37 lead with 20.7 seconds remaining.

Bartlett senior Marcus Aluquin went to the line and hit the first to make it 40-38 with 5.5 seconds remaining, and after missing the second attempt Coleman grabbed the rebound for Metea and split a pair of free throws for the final point of the game.

Aluquin scored 8 of his game-high 11 points in the first half as Bartlett led 18-17 at the break. Sean Davis led the Mustangs with 10 points including 6 in the third quarter as Metea took a 30-24 lead at the end of the period.

Both Patel and Hayden Barnard added 7 points for Metea.