Stevenson's girls basketball team was riding a seven-game streak, while Naperville Central had put together four wins in a row.
The difference between the two victory-minded teams in Dundee-Crown's Charger Classic on Wednesday turned out to be Mia Lakstigala.
The Naperville Central standout led the way with a game-high 18 points along with 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots to help the Redhawks past the Patriots 43-34 in the tournament's quarterfinal round. She had great support, as Naperville Central made 20 of its 25 free throws.
"(Stevenson) was sharp defensively, and I thought their game plan was outstanding," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. "I thought our kids exhibited really good patience and I thought we played some really good defense ourselves."
Naperville Central (15-2, 2-0) led 17-14 after the opening half, then slowly pulled away in the third quarter for a 31-17 lead.
"We were going with a chip, chip, chip, chip, and I was really pleased with our third quarter," Nussbaum said. "We probably shot our best at the line all year. I really thought it was a good team victory. More than any game we've had this year, I felt it was like one fist more than five fingers."
Lakstigala had 7 of those third-quarter points in Naperville Central's decisive run.
"I knew (Stevenson) was going to be aggressive on defense," Lakstigala said. "So we tried to take it to them, drove a lot and kicked it out when we needed to. I was able to drive to the basket and look to see who was open."
The Patriots (10-4, 1-1) made a push in the final quarter but couldn't get closer than 7 points, in the final minute. Klaire Steffens scored 10 of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter for Stevenson.
"I thought we played nice, hard defense and did some really good things to take (Naperville Central) out of what they wanted to do," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "In that regard, we kept it close. We just didn't have a lot of threats out there. We need to look to attack more. Once this tournament is over, that will be a focus for us."
Stevenson played without starter Isabella Paldrmic, who missed the game with an injury suffered in the opening game against Resurrection on Tuesday.
Naperville Central next meets Trinity in an 8 p.m. Thursday semifinal. Stevenson's next foe is Maine South, at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Trinity got past Maine South 44-39 in Wednesday's late quarterfinal matchup.