Cary-Grove did not surrender to the type of start that would have finished a lot of teams.
The Trojans were just a minute and 53 seconds into their nonconference girls basketball game Saturday evening when coach Rod Saffert called timeout. All 9 points on the scoreboard belonged to host Stevenson.
"Getting down by 9 kind of shocked us," said C-G junior Katie Barker, "but it kind of motivated us to catch up."
And the Trojans eventually passed the Patriots and a key test. Barker overcame some cold stretches by heating up at crucial times en route to game-highs of 21 points and 16 rebounds in a 44-39 victory in Lincolnshire.
"I thought it was a great team effort and a really big win for us," said C-G junior Candace Cunningham, who had 12 points and 5 rebounds and battled defensively against talented Stevenson junior Taylor Buford. "We said, OK, we have to get back up and put all of our effort forth and keep pushing ourselves."
Especially after the Trojans (8-4) were set back immediately as Buford (13 points, 9 rebounds), Sophia Way and Ashley Richardson combined to hit 4 of the first 5 shots for Stevenson (6-3).
But the Patriots ended up shooting just 28 percent from the field (14-for-50) and made their only 3-pointer in 17 attempts when Richardson tied it at 34-34 with 4:57 to play. C-G also ended up with a 42-27 rebound advantage.
"Percentage-wise it wasn't good, but it was our shot selection," Stevenson coach Tom Dineen said of the end to his team's five-game winning streak. "Off-balance and fading away, contested 3s and contested twos.
"I thought we played a very good first half at both ends of the court, but in the second half our decision-making and shot selection wasn't good."
A layup by sophomore Janine Fajardo (8 points) gave the Patriots a 24-16 lead 47 seconds after halftime. Barker, who had missed 7 of her first 9 shots and all six behind the arc against a 1-3-1 zone, hit a 3, a driving baseline jumper and a layup in a 1:07 span to cut the deficit to 24-23.
"You want your shooters to shoot the ball," Saffert said. "We try to get her a lot of shots because once she starts feeling it . . . "
Cunningham's 3-point play off a miss and her feed to junior reserve Maddie Priester for a 10-footer put C-G up 28-26 and it would never trail again. Barker had missed 6 straight shots and was 1-for-10 on 3s when she hit a pair of tiebreakers - a 23-footer with 5:13 left and another off the dribble at 3:28 for a 37-34 lead. She finished shooting 8-for-22 from the floor.
"I thought we contained her pretty well, but good players are going to score," Dineen said.
"I have to keep shooting and I have confidence in my shot," Barker said. "I was definitely rushing my shot at the beginning."
Buford's rebound basket at 3:11 cut it to 37-36 but C-G junior reserve Chrissy Sopchyk answered with her second 3 of the second half at 2:52. Sarah Kendeigh drew a big charging foul and Barker's rebound and drive off a missed free throw made it 44-37 with 47 seconds left.
"This is an awesome win for us, and it was even more awesome for me because my freshman year we were up by 12 here and ended up losing in the fourth quarter," said Barker, who has played on an AAU team with Way, Buford and Melanie Despinich. "To come back here and take this one from them is awesome for the whole Cary-Grove program. I wanted to get that for the girls who already graduated."