Palatine's on the money again at the end
There was no admission charge for Saturday's nonconference girls basketball matinee at Palatine.
Perhaps there should have been.
"We're giving the fans their money's worth," said Pirates senior Kacie Filian, who scored 5 of her team's 6 points in overtime to give the hosts a hard-fought 32-28 win over Stevenson.
The Pirates (19-7) are also giving their fans some anxious moments.
The Mid-Suburban West leaders were coming off a pair of wins they won with 16- and 20-foot buzzer-beating shots in critical conference games.
"We're giving them heart attacks," joked Pirates coach Mark Johnson, whose team leads the West by 1 game over Conant and Fremd, with two to play this week.
"We care more about our conference games coming up," Filian said. "We have two tough ones and it's been a while (2005) since Palatine has been in a conference championship game."
The two teams battled like it was for a championship on Saturday.
Defense stood out as neither team hit double digits in any quarter.
"You have to credit Palatine," said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham, who was a standout guard from the Mid-Suburban League at Buffalo Grove. "When you score 28 points, you've got to credit their defensive effort."
The Patriots (13-11), limiting Palatine to 32 points in 36 minutes, also excelled defensively.
"That's an awesome Stevenson program," Johnson said. "This is their 11th loss because their schedule is unbelievable. She (Graham) is doing a fantastic job because she is patching together kids. She's got injuries. This was a great battle."
Filian made a big baseline drive and then kicked the ball out to Kendra Lindell (8 points), who drilled a corner 3-pointer to get the Pirates to within 9-6 after one period.
The Patriots charged to their biggest lead in the second half when sophomore Avery King hit a 3-pointer, and then a driving bank shot to make it 18-10 with 2:50 left in the first half.
But the Pirates held Stevenson to 10 points the rest of the way.
"Some of that was them missing shots, some of it was us playing great defense," Johnson said. "We can always hang our hat on defense. We played good defense and boxed out. We didn't give them a lot of good chances in the second half."
A basket by senior Isabella Paldrmic (4 points) gave Stevenson a 25-21 lead with 6:18 left in the game.
The Pirates inched ahead 26-25 following a layup by senior Tiana Henderson (8 points), free throws by Henderson and Jenny Myslinski and a great move between defenders for a layup by Sydney Rzepka (6 points) with 1:48 left.
A free throw by senior Julia Osuch (5 points) with 45 seconds left tied the game at 26, which was the score heading in OT.
"We've got to start knocking in shots down the stretch," said Filian, who scored 8 points. "Our free throws are getting better. But we've got to work on closing out games because we have been leading at half in a lot of them. We've got to be stronger with the ball when teams bring pressure in the fourth quarter."
Stevenson put the pressure on Palatine quickly in the extra session when Steffens made a long drive from the top of the key for a layup.
Filian responded with a lengthy drive of her own and finished with a high bank shot to tie the game at 28 with 3:12 left.
The Pirates then scored the game's final 4 points with 3 free throws from Filian and one from Lindell.
Palatine eared its third straight win by 4 points or less.
"It's just these girls -- they are tough and resilient," Johnson said. "Kacie did a good job handling the ball. Sydney got a big basket to put us up by 1 point late in regulation.
"We were trying to pick up on their switching inside. We tried to get a mismatch and we got it a couple of times."
Johnson was without Anja Jacobsen, who had the game-winning 3 on Friday at Barrington, and Sarah Jasonowicz.
"Anja was on a college trip and Sarah had a little bit of an injury from Friday," Johnson said "We were down two kids, so we'll be ready Tuesday.
"We had other kids step up. Melanie Simon (sophomore) and Amanda Stanczuk (junior) gave us some great minutes. Our underclassmen are learning a ton from our seniors."
King led Stevenson with 9 points while Steffens added 8. Both fouled out, King with 3:20 in regulation and Steffens with 1:04 in the overtime.
"We respect Palatine so much," Graham said. "Mark and their girls have had such a nice season. We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game. Our kids battled to the end. There were a few possessions that didn't go our way and obviously that's the breaks of the game. It can be the difference of a win or loss in a close game.
"I thought we had good practices last week. You have to credit Palatine."