Stevenson's defense does in Bartlett
The Stevenson girls basketball team didn't like the score at halftime of Saturday's opening round game against Bartlett at the 33rd Annual Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown.
Sure, the Patriots were winning at the break but not in the same manner they had employed in bringing an 8-game winning streak into the contest.
So, Stevenson went back to playing the tough hard-nosed defense that has been its main strength this season and the second half results produced further evidence that this Patriots team intends to win with defense.
After giving up 28 points to Bartlett in the first half Stevenson, which has given up just 34 points per game this season, held the Hawks to just 13 in the final 16 minutes, coming away with a 51-41 win that puts the Patriots (10-2) in Monday's 3:30 p.m. quarterfinal against Hononegah, a 47-33 winner over Maine South Saturday.
"What has got us to this point is defense," said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham. "We had some big breakdowns in the first half on their 3-point shooters but we did a better job in the second half."
Bartlett, which made four 3-pointers in the first half, did manage three more in the second half but they all came in the third quarter and the Hawks (7-5), who will play Maine South at 11 a.m. Monday, managed just 4 points in the fourth quarter.
"We were playing the first half at our pace and the second half more at their pace," said Bartlett coach Dave Mello. "That was ideal for them. They're a very good defensive team, no doubt about it. We felt good at the half just being down 31-28 but they slowed us down in the second half."
Stevenson opened up a 39-34 lead with 28 seconds left in the third quarter on a basket in the paint from 6-foot sophomore Klaire Steffens but the Hawks closed the gap to 39-37 on a 3 from Kaitlin Brohan with 20 seconds left in the quarter. That would be Bartlett's last 3-pointer of the game.
The Patriots were clinging to a 40-39 lead after Bartlett's Kelly Harris scored with 5:23 left in the game but over the next 3 minutes, 44 seconds, Stevenson went on a 9-0 run to open up a49-39 lead. While they were under 50 percent from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter (7-for-15), the Pats made just enough and coupled with their stifling defense that didn't allow Bartlett any open looks, they were able to move on.
After going 11-for-28 from the floor in the first half, Bartlett was just 5 of 25 in the second half.
"Our defense really helped us in the second half," said Stevenson junior Ashley Richardson, who led all scorers with 19 points. "We played better team defense and we had better overall team play. It was a good win for us. Bartlett's a good team and they play hard."
Richardson scored 17 of her points in the first half but was limited to just 2 free throws in the second half.
"What she's so good at is that she's so smart," Graham said of Richardson. "(Bartlett) adjusted on her in the second half but she knows when to pass. She knows the game and she has a high basketball IQ."
Kiana Cencula added 11 points for the Patriots and Steffens had 10 points and 6 rebounds, 6 of her points coming in the second half.
Senior Shelly Lyjak led Bartlett with 17 points, going 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. Harris added 11 points for the Hawks.