Stevenson savors a fun Friday
She's pregnant with her second child, and better yet for Stevenson girls basketball coach Ashley Graham is that she's not due until April.
That means she gets to enjoy more nights like Friday.
"Nothing better than this -- a Friday night basketball game against a great basketball team on their home court," a smiling Graham said after her Patriots won their North Suburban Conference showdown with host Warren, 47-41.
The Patriots know how to keep their coach smiling.
Ashley Richardson had 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, as Stevenson improved to 5-2 and 2-0 in the NSC. The Patriots' balanced attack also featured Kiana Cencula with 11 points, Klaire Steffens with 9 points and Madison Wicklund with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Richardson and Cencula each hit two 3-pointers.
"I'm just so proud of my teammates, I got to tell you," Richardson said. "Klaire had a good game, Kiana stepped up for us, and Madison had a great game."
Isabella Paldrmic's contributions were also huge against Warren (5-2, 1-1). The 5-foot-10 junior sank the only field goal of the fourth, a jumper from the wing that had the visitors up 40-37 midway through the quarter.
Paldrmic got the start (and won the opening tip) after coming off the bench in a couple of games at Schaumburg. A varsity player since her freshman year, she finished with 4 points and 5 rebounds.
"Izzy had a great game," Richardson said. "She's definitely improved over the years. I know she worked hard over the summer training almost every day. I'm really proud of her tonight. In practice, she always goes hard. She makes everybody she plays against better."
Stevenson had two days of practice to prepare for Warren, and Wicklund acknowledged that helped.
"We spent a lot of time going through scouting reports and watching film, (learning) their players and their tendencies," Wicklund said.
Stevenson continues to be a frustrating opponent for Warren, which has now lost 11 straight games to the Patriots. The Blue Devils last beat Stevenson in February of 2011.
They had a great chance this time, trailing only 36-35 entering the final quarter.
"I thought it was a great high school basketball game," Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz said. "What it comes down to in these types of games is execution. We just had some really unproductive possessions. We were forcing the ball."
Kaylen Dickson and Jordyn Hughes (two 3-pointers) led Warren with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Dickson also had 5 steals, while Hughes hustled for 9 rebounds and came up with 3 steals.
"Ashley (Richardson) was tenacious guarding a very talented Jordyn Hughes, and Izzy Padrmic did a nice job -- and Klaire (Steffens) helped out -- on Dickson," Graham said. "(Hughes and Dickson) are two outstanding basketball players. I felt we 'held' them, and they still had that many points (29 combined)."
Warren trapped for most of the game and, for the most part, was successful. Stevenson turned the ball over 19 times.
"I thought, defensively, we were great," Stanczykiewicz said after his team limited Stevenson to 4-of-17 shooting in the second half. "We got what we wanted out of our trap. I could count at least a half dozen times where that ball either went through our hands when we tried to steal from the backside or we just missed it by inches."
Stevenson hit 9 of 12 free throws in the fourth, while holding Warren to 0-of-9 shooting.
"They're a great basketball team," Graham said of the Blue Devils. "They have so much talent."
So does Stevenson.
"I think our team did a very good job of handling the pressure down the stretch," Wicklund said. "It was an intense game, and Warren plays extremely good defense, especially trapping up high in the corners. I think in the second half we adjusted to that, and we did a good job in the fourth quarter finding the open player and not getting frazzled. And our coaches and players did a good job of calling timeouts when we did get in trouble."