Zion-Benton stymies Stevenson
The answer was short and sweet, and probably not the one she preferred to give.
"We just got outplayed tonight," Stevenson junior guard Ashley Richardson said abruptly after the Pats' furious late charge came up a little short and Zion-Benton held on for a 48-43 North Suburban Lake girls basketball victory on Friday evening in Zion.
Zion holds on to second place in the Lake with an 8-2 mark behind leader Stevenson, which slipped to 9-1 with both teams having two division games remaining.
A tightly contested game throughout, it all came down to wild and crazy fourth quarter.
Zion held a 33-31 advantage entering the frame and looked like it would put the game out of reach after a sparkling 10-0 run to open the period was capped by a layup by senior guard Krystal Walker, who led Zion with 15 points and shared game-high scoring honors with Richardson.
All of a sudden it was 43-31 with 2:35 left -- and get this, the Pats hadn't even scored a point yet in the period.
"They're (Stevenson) the front-runner in the league, so to beat them, I'm so proud of our kids. We didn't quit and stayed in there," said Zee-Bees seventh-year coach Tanya Johnson, who won her 700th career game a couple of weeks ago and this season has beaten Prairie champ Antioch and now Stevenson. "This was a really good battle and a great high school basketball game. We've had opportunities to beat them before and knew we could beat them."
But don't forget, this is Stevenson, and they know how to quickly dig out of a hole.
After that run to open the fourth, Richardson canned a trey and the Pats were just waking up as the deficit was cut to 43-34 with 2:20 left and fans on both sides were sensing an exciting finish was about to unfold.
With the exception of a Zion free throw, Richardson's trey ignited a 10-1 Patriot run and her jumper with 1:18 left in regulation drew them to within 44-41 with 1:02 left.
However, that's the closest the Pats would get as the teams traded baskets before Zion junior guard Ledallia Maggett's rebound and bunny iced the game for Zion, which improved to 16-7 overall. Maggett ended up tossing in 12 points, including 6 during that 10-0 run to open the fourth.
"Give them credit. Zion came out and played really hard and they closed it at the end," said Stevenson first-year coach Ashley Graham, whose team slipped to 21-5. "We just have to go back to the drawing board. Through the course of the game, we worked hard for them to miss a shot. We just got out-rebounded."
Besides Richardson, senior guard Jessica Burke was in double figures scoring for the Pats with 12, while sophomore forward Klaire Steffens added 9 points and 12 boards.
Junior guard Niquera Short, who did an excellent job helping off of the screening, also hit for double-figures for Zion with 13 points to go along with 9 rebounds.