For the first three quarters Tuesday night, the Stevenson girls basketball team went toe-to-toe against Loyola Academy.
But for the most part, the Patriots were battling themselves by giving the ball away and shooting around 25 percent.
They stepped it up a notch in the fourth.
Stevenson surprised Loyola 46-40 in the Suburban Holiday Showcase at Niles West in Skokie.
"We made some better decisions with the ball," Stevenson coach Tom Dineen said. "Early on, we kept passing the ball to the white team (Loyola). Once we figured out that we were on the green team, we were much better. We were much more patient with the ball and the kids hit some free throws."
The Patriots (12-4, 3-1) are now in the mix for the tournament title since four teams have 3-1 records. Stevenson takes on Trinity (13-3), a 64-60 winner over Proviso East, at 6 p.m. today at Trinity in River Forest.
Proviso East (3-1) meets Loyola (12-2, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m. in the tournament finale.
Stevenson needs a victory and a Loyola win over Proviso East to win the championship.
"This tournament is outstanding," Dineen said. "We'll get a fourth-ranked team (Trinity) next. I don't like to lose at all, but we have to be satisfied where we are at. You want to play good competition at this time of year."
Stevenson's fourth quarter was outstanding, as the Patriots hit 6 of 8 shots to break away.
Stevenson held a 39-38 advantage when Ashley Niedermayer converted a three-point play with 2:35 remaining.
"Everybody on this team can shoot very well," said Niedermayer, who had 8 points and 8 rebounds. "There's always somebody who can give someone else the opportunity make a shot or make a good defensive stop."
The Patriots outscored the Ramblers 7-2 down the stretch.
Stevenson's Michelle O'Brien had 8 points in the fourth, and finished with a team-high 14 points and 10 rebounds. Anna Morrissey contributed with 5 of her 13 points in the final quarter.
Michelle Riccolcol led Loyola with 10 points, while Carrie Schoeneberger added 9 points and 10 boards.
"Stevenson did a great job and executed their offense very well," Loyola coach Jeremy Schonecker said. "Defensively, we got caught in some spots and we didn't get the help we needed."