Stevenson steps past Buffalo Grove into D-C finale
The traveling violation -- with 2.6 seconds left on the game clock in a 1-point game -- essentially ended an otherwise sensational semifinal.
It also seemed fitting, considering defense dominated.
"It's a tough call to make," Buffalo Grove coach Steve Kolodziej said after his girls basketball team lost the call and the game 32-30 to Stevenson in the 33rd annual Dundee-Crown Charger Classic on Tuesday night.
What was clear was that Stevenson (12-2) and Buffalo Grove (10-3) couldn't have played a much tighter contest.
Stevenson guard Ashley Richardson, who was held to a season-low 3 points by Maddie Welter and Sammy Stejskal, hit the front end of a one-and-one with 0.2 seconds left to complete the scoring. The victory, Stevenson's 11th straight, sends the Patriots into Wednesday's 8 p.m. championship game against New Trier.
Buffalo Grove will play Crystal Lake South for third place at 6:30 p.m.
"Steve does a great job preparing his teams," said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham, who coached against Kolodziej when she was at Prospect the last three years. "I felt like we knew a lot of what they were going to do, and it was just a battle. It came down to that last possession, last second, and that's what happens when two teams execute really that well their defensive game plans. We were fortunate to be on the (winning) end of it."
In a battle of man-to-man teams, neither the Patriots or Bison ever enjoyed a lead larger than 6 points.
"It was crazy," Stevenson senior Jessica Burke said. "Every possession matters, so your heart is racing the whole entire game. You just want to do everything right."
The pressure didn't faze Burke, who led all scorers with 13 points, which represented just her third double-digit scoring effort of the season. She knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored 8 points in the second quarter to help the Patriots take a 20-18 lead into halftime.
"Offensively, she was just relentless in getting to the basket," Graham said after Burke shot 4 of 6 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the line. "I felt she really worked hard to get into the lane and get layups and attack the basket. And defensively, I thought she did a great job on Sammy (Stejskal)."
When Burke cut to the basket and finished a slick bounce pass from center Klaire Steffens (12 points, 5 rebounds), Stevenson had a 31-30 lead with 1:50 left in the fourth.
"I don't know how she found me," Burke said of the 6-foot sophomore. "She made the perfect bounce pass."
In the end, after Buffalo Grove inbounded the ball on the sideline with 8.8 seconds on the clock, it was Steffens who helped force the traveling violation.
"It was a great defensive game," Kolodziej said. "I'm really happy with the fact that we held them to 32 points. Unfortunately, they did a great defensively and their pressure got to us a little bit."
Stevenson attempted only 23 shots, making 11, while committing 19 turnovers. The Patriots went 8 of 12 from the line.
Buffalo Grove was 11-of-33 shooting from the floor (3 of 4 from the line), and the Bison turned the ball over 11 times.
"Our defense is really what got us through this whole game," Burke said after the Patriots limited the Bison to 4 points in the final quarter. "That's what we needed."
Welter (two 3-pointers) and Stejskal led Buffalo Grove with 10 and 9 points, respectively.
"Sammy Stejskal is a great player, and Maddie Welter is an unbelievable shooter," Graham said. "It's just a testament to (my players) when we defend them the way we did."