2016-'17 Season Coverage
updated: 2/20/2017 2:43 PM

Keefe, Libertyville on target against Stevenson

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Libertyville's Claire Keefe hoists the hardware high after a win over Stevenson in Class 4A regional final play Friday at Stevenson. Libertyville won 35-33.

      Libertyville's Claire Keefe hoists the hardware high after a win over Stevenson in Class 4A regional final play Friday at Stevenson. Libertyville won 35-33.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville celebrates with its plaque aftre a win over Stevenson during Class 4A regional title-game action at Stevenson.

      Libertyville celebrates with its plaque aftre a win over Stevenson during Class 4A regional title-game action at Stevenson.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville celebrates with its plaque after a win over Stevenson during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson on Friday. Libertyville won 35-33.

      Libertyville celebrates with its plaque after a win over Stevenson during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson on Friday. Libertyville won 35-33.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • From left, Stevenson's Ashley Richardson, Madison Wicklund, and Klaire Steffens react as Libertyville takes a late lead during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.

      From left, Stevenson's Ashley Richardson, Madison Wicklund, and Klaire Steffens react as Libertyville takes a late lead during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Caroline Frea, center, snares a rebound ahead of Stevenson's Madison Wicklund, left, and Isabella Paldrmic during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.

      Libertyville's Caroline Frea, center, snares a rebound ahead of Stevenson's Madison Wicklund, left, and Isabella Paldrmic during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Riley Weis, right, takes the ball past Stevenson's Ashley Richardson during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson on Friday night.

      Libertyville's Riley Weis, right, takes the ball past Stevenson's Ashley Richardson during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson on Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Klaire Steffens takes the ball to the hoop during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson on Friday night.

      Stevenson's Klaire Steffens takes the ball to the hoop during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson on Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Claire Keefe, left, and Stevenson's Madison Wicklund battle for the ball during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.

      Libertyville's Claire Keefe, left, and Stevenson's Madison Wicklund battle for the ball during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Players on Stevenson's bench cheer in the first half as the Patriots hold a lead over Libertyville during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.

      Players on Stevenson's bench cheer in the first half as the Patriots hold a lead over Libertyville during Class 4A regional title game action at Stevenson.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Claire Keefe, center, is congratulated by teammates after sinking the go-ahead free throw to seal the game against Stevenson during Class 4A regional title play Friday.

      Libertyville's Claire Keefe, center, is congratulated by teammates after sinking the go-ahead free throw to seal the game against Stevenson during Class 4A regional title play Friday.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.

      The Libertyville girls basketball team celebrates a regional title win over the host Patriots at Stevenson High School Friday night.
    Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

 
 

Those costly missed free throws with no time on the clock at Lake Forest. Those pair of heartbreaking losses to Stevenson.

After Libertyville's thrilling 35-33 win over host Stevenson in a Class 4A regional final, those sour memories are history for Claire Keefe.

It was just on Jan. 31 when the veteran forward misfired on 2 foul shots with no time left, allowing host Lake Forest to escape with a one-point win.

"It killed me," Keefe said. "Then in the last Stevenson game (a two-point loss in double overtime) I couldn't get them either (3 of 6, including 1 of 3 in the second OT). They just weren't going in."

So before and after every practice this month, she shot 100 free throws, about 70 more than she usually does.

That's why she was so confident when she went to the free-throw line with 5.1 seconds left in a 33-33 tie Friday night. Keefe made both shots, despite Stevenson calling a timeout in between tosses. And when Ashley Richardson's desperation shot from well beyond the three-point arc fell short, Libertyville had its first regional championship since 2011.

While No. 6 Libertyville (18-11) advances to play No. 2 Fremd (25-6) in Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. sectional semifinal at Libertyville, third-seeded and North Suburban Conference champion Stevenson sees its season end at 23-6.

In four seasons with Richardson as their point guard, the Patriots went 95-26, but with no postseason hardware.

"I'm just so happy with what I accomplished and so happy about this team," Richardson said after scoring 9 points and hustling for a game-high 10 rebounds in her final game as a Patriot. "It's probably been my favorite team to play on in my four years."

Down the stretch, Richardson and Keefe, both four-year varsity players, were determined to win the game for their respective team. With the score tied 31-31, Keefe cut to the basket and finished a nifty feed from Riley Weis with 1:10 left.

Richardson, as she did numerous times in her career, answered with a clutch play of her own, muscling up a left-handed shot in the lane that banked in with 28 seconds to go.

Libertyville called a timeout with 8.3 seconds left, after Keefe saved an errant pass in the corner. The Wildcats again went to Keefe, who penetrated the lane.

Richardson lunged to make a block and, much to the disbelief of the Patriots, was called for a foul.

"I'm going to say yes," a smiling Keefe said after a pause when asked if she thought Richardson fouled her.

"No," Richardson said. "Block, block ... block party. But that's how the game goes sometimes."

When Keefe went to the line, her coach couldn't have been more confident.

"We knew we would be in position against Stevenson again to have a 2- or 1-point game," said coach Greg Pedersen, whose Wildcats suffered a pair of two-point losses to the Patriots in NSC action. "We had stuff in our pocket to run for Claire because it was her time. We knew she would make it, because she needed to wipe out that other stuff."

After giving up 45 and 59 points to Stevenson in the first two meetings, Libertyville ditched its box-and-one defense and played man to man. Weis had Richardson on every possession.

Stevenson went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal in the first half, but went into the break tied 19-19 after Klaire Steffens hit a pair of late free throws. Pedersen called Weis, who limited Richardson to 10 shots, the "unsung hero of the game."

Patriots coach Ashley Graham said Libertyville's different defensive strategy didn't faze her team.

"We were prepared that they would be in a box and one on a make (made shot) by their scorer, and on any shot they missed they would be in man to man," Graham said.

At game's end, after Libertyville's players stormed the court, the Wildcats sprinted back to their bench. Keefe arrived first and jumped into the arms of Pedersen, who was celebrating his first regional title. He and Keefe shared a long embrace, surrounded by the team.

"That mutual moment we had at the end, it was for the year, but it was also for Claire and me," Pedersen said. "It's four years of hard work getting here."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.