Healthy defensive effort powers Stevenson past Lake Zurich

 
By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/20/2016 10:15 PM
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Maybe it wasn't the most pleasant summer for Stevenson sophomore basketball player Kiana Cencula. However, she made the best of her quad injury that prevented her from running.

Instead of racing around the block, she stayed close to home and shot baskets.

Cencula has healed, as she can get up and down the court for the North Suburban Lake Division's best club.

On Wednesday night, Cencula and teammates invited a streaking Lake Zurich team for a key Lake battle.

The Bears scored the first 4 points -- but that was about the extent of the good news for Lake Zurich.

On "Think Pink" night at Stevenson, the Pats (19-4, 8-0) took a 23-10 halftime lead and never looked back to remain unbeaten in league play with a 45-29 romp.

"This is the second round of conference play,'' Cencula said. "And we were really ready for this game."

Cencula cut the Bears' lead to 4-2 with a drive to the hoop with five minutes left in the first quarter. Cencula and teammate Ashley Richardson added 3-pointers as the Patriots went on a 12-0 run to complete the quarter.

"This was our best defensive effort of the season,'' said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham. "We love our defense."

The Cencula-Richardson show continued into the second quarter. Both hit a 3-pointer, and the two combined to score all 11 points for the Pats.

"They have good shooters,'' said Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett. "They came out like a team in first place that wants to stay there."

The Stevenson assault did not wane in the third quarter. Cencula (14 points) hit her third 3-pointer of the game to start the scoring in the period. The quarter ended with the Pats holding a 40-16 lead over a team that was riding a 5-game winning streak.

"We had a great week in DeKalb,'' Graham said. "And a great game against Hinsdale Central."

Graham was able to clear her bench and give those players a chance to play the entire fourth quarter. Grace Kinsey of Lake Zurich took advantage of this situation and scored 3 of her 7 points in this quarter. McKenna Zobel joined Kinsey with 7 points as well.

"There is no mystery to this,'' Bennett said "They just took us out of what we wanted to do. Stevenson is a very good team. You just have to tip your hat to them."

The Bears (11-8, 4-3) had not played since Jan. 9.

Richardson backed up Cencula with 10 points, while Jessica Burke and Klaire Steffens both scored 6 points for the Pats.

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