Stevenson pulls away from Mundelein
Sometimes, we might forget that the runaway Patriots from Stevenson are clearly a young girls basketball team. Only two seniors start -- that is, Taylor Buford, coming off an injury, and the veteran Sophie Way.
Friday's guest in Lincolnshire was the Mundelein Mustangs. And for at least the first half, it was anyone's ballgame despite the Mustangs having struggled this season.
With Buford on the bench with three fouls, the future Dr. Way and her youthful Patriots (22-3, 10-0) calmly took over the game and posted a 61-42 NSC Lake Division victory.
"Mundelein came out with a lot of energy,'' Way said. "In the first half, they caught us off guard. But as usual we executed our game plan. We always seem to play better in the second half."
Way's first 3-pointer of the night ended the third quarter scoring with her Pats up 38-28. That only seemed to wake up the Mustangs. Both Marie Devito and Amy Richards hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Mustangs (9-16, 2-8) stayed within striking range at 49-40. Stevenson then salted the game away at the foul line.
"Our free throw percentage in the fourth quarter is very good,'' Way said.
No, this isn't a player who is merely nicknamed Dr. Way. Gifted with 4.53 grade average and 35 ACT, she's ready to tackle the world and continue to play her favorite game.
"Every day I'm in the gym,'' she said.
It was too late in the season to blame nerves for the start of this game as the teams combined to miss the first eight shots.
Maggie Mahar (15 points) had a rebound bucked as Mundelein trailed by only 5 points heading to the second quarter.
"I know their record is not that good but they have players,'' said Stevenson coach, Tom Dineen. "We sat back and tried not to lose."
Mahar fired her lone 3-pointer into the net with a minute to play before halftime and this game was knotted up at 16-16.
Alas, Mundelein coach Brian Evans was not well enough to attend this game but his former player Jessica Piasecki was pleased with her team's effort.
"I just wanted the girls to out and play hard,'' Piasecki said. "I'm not happy with the loss. But we really played well as a team."
And then with Buford stationed on the Stevenson bench, the Patriots offense exploded in the second half. Mahar again starred for the Mustangs in the third quarter as she tallied the team's first 8 points.
On an Amy Richards bucket, Mundelein was still in the game, down 28-26. A personal 5-point run by freshman Kiana Cencula (13 points) helped the Pats open this game up a little.
Way helped turn back the fourth quarter 3-point attack of the Mustangs when she again found the range from long distance.
"We have four freshman, two sophomores and two juniors,'' Way said. "We have a number of threats. We kept our composure."
One of those juniors, Janine Fajardo, had 6 of her 9 points in the final quarter. Sophomore Ashley Richardson also had 9 points for the Pats.
Richards also added 9 points for the Mustangs.