Score this one in Stevenson's favor
Every now and then, when she isn't looking to positively affect the game at either end of the court, Stevenson sophomore guard Avery King will look at the scoreboard and be befuddled. Maybe even amused at so few points.
"If we win, it's fine," she said, smiling.
King and her teammates hosted Lake Zurich on Thursday night in another North Suburban Conference showdown that looked like the first team to 30 points would win.
It never got even far, however.
King's game-high 13 points accounted for nearly half her team's total, as Stevenson rallied in the second half to pull out a 28-23 win. With their sixth victory in a row, the Patriots (9-3, 5-1) moved into a first-place tie with Warren in the NSC, while dropping Lake Zurich (8-6, 5-2) into second.
Stevenson is allowing 26 points per game in conference play, compared to 28 ppg for Lake Zurich.
"It's good basketball," Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett said. "People read these scores in the paper and think, 'It's bad basketball.' Are you kidding?"
Mind you, both Stevenson and Lake Zurich play man-to-man defense. Both teams also play deliberately on offense. Stevenson shot 11 of 37 from the floor, while Lake Zurich made just 7 of 29 shots.
"They're really disciplined (defensively)," King said of the Bears. "They're like us on defense."
While King attempted 15 shots, hitting six, including a 3-pointer, Klaire Steffens attempted just 1 shot in the first half, which ended in a 9-9 tie. Steffens, who scored 48 points in her last two games, didn't score until her layup with 1:43 left in the fourth hiked the Patriots' lead to 26-20.
Guarded by AAU teammate Grace Kinsey and McKenna Zobel at different times, Steffens finished with 4 points, tying her season low. The recent University of Chicago commit did grab 8 rebounds.
"She's a hard guard," Bennett said of Steffens. "Grace and McKenna did a nice job."
Steffens and Kinsey have played AAU ball together (Full Package, ALL IN Athletics) since the fifth grade.
"It's always fun to play teammates," Kinsey said. "You get even more pumped up for the game than you usually do. It's also nice because you know their tendencies because you've had to learn where to pass them the ball and where they like to go with it."
Kinsey posted a double-double, leading Lake Zurich with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"We did a little film session yesterday and saw that she has an opportunity to start attacking the basket more," Bennett said. "She did a nice job with that tonight."
Needing to get offense from another player, Stevenson turned to King, who was coming off a season-best 14 points against Libertyville.
"Since so much (of the defense) was collapsing on Klaire, I was getting open shots," King said.
"Grace (Kinsey's) strength is defense. That's what Klaire has always talked about," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "We weren't surprised that Grace guarded Klaire for a few possessions and then Zobel guarded her for a few possessions. Klaire draws so much attention, and I thought (King) did an excellent job just recognizing double and triple teams and being able to knock down some big shots. She was always ready to shoot."
Trailing 16-15 entering the fourth, Stevenson got a 3-pointer from Kiana Cencula to take the lead. King's left-wing jumper gave the Patriots the lead for good at 20-18 with 3:44 left. Stevenson outscored Lake Zurich 13-7 in the fourth, hitting 5 of 10 shots.
The Bears, who had a 14-9 lead midway through the third, lost for the third time in their last four games.
"We just got to get some things fixed on offense," Bennett said. "Our defense is right where we want it to be."