Mirror images: St. Viator outruns Stevenson
Going into the game, both coaches felt their opponent was similar in style to their own team.
Sure enough, the pressure defense and up-tempo action of the youthful St. Viator and Stevenson girls basketball teams made for an entertaining Saturday matinee in Arlington Heights.
When it was over, one of the youngest players on the floor, freshman Joy Bergstrom, had 25 points to help lead the Lions to a 52-43 triumph over the Patriots at the Cahill Gymnasium.
"We mentioned to our girls playing them was kind of like looking in the mirror," said St. Viator coach Jason Raymond. "They're young, we're young. Like us, they play pressure defense, get out and run and shoot the 3s."
"We talked about being two really similar teams," echoed Stevenson coach Ashley Graham. "Even our full-court defensive calls were the same."
Offensively, Bergstrom (5 rebounds, 3 steals) enjoyed her fourth game of 20 or more points.
"Obviously, Joy is the key to our offense," Raymond said. "She can score in so many different ways -- outside, inside, on the fastbreak and we even put her in the post against their zone and she got a bucket down there."
That came early in the fourth quarter off one of the Lions' 10 assists.
Elise Horbach whipped a bounce pass to Bergstrom, who was on her way to the basket. Bergstrom converted the layup to give Viator (18-5) its biggest lead of the game, 40-30, with 5:50 left.
Stevenson (16-8) got to within 46-41 and 48-43 on a pair of free throws and a putback by junior Avery King.
But Bergstrom hit 2 free throws with 4.1 seconds to close the deal.
"Bergstrom is really a nice, tough player," Graham said. "She's just smooth and has a real nice all-around game."
King had a big game for Stevenson, connecting for 19 points, including 6-of-7 free throws.
"Avery had a nice game," Graham added. "She was strong on the offensive rebounds (8 rebounds total) and she got to the free throw line.
"Credit to St. Viator. They played really tough defense. I just felt like we never got in a rhythm shooting and one of our strengths is outside shots."
Lions sophomore guard Emma Morrisey showed her outside shot, hitting a 3-pointer to start the game.
"We were super excited to play them," she said. "Our coaches said they were like a clone of us -- super fast, like to push the ball and shoot the 3-pointer like us."
Morrisey finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
"Emma has been coming off the bench a lot this year but she is a starter coming off the bench," Raymond said. "She gives us great minutes. She is one of the toughest kids I've coached.
"Defensively, she gets after it. She'll fight out there and has a knack for scoring and getting to the rim."
Senior Natalie Krause has a knack hitting clutch 3s. She did it twice Saturday, one for a 21-20 lead and another for a 36-28 cushion.
"She is such a weapon off the bench," Raymond added. "She just spaces the floor and has a knack for finding the open areas, and getting there."
Freshman Simone Sawyer added 10 points for Stevenson while classmate Ava Bardic and sophomore Nicole Ware each chipped in 6.
"I thought we did some nice things to crawl back into the game," Graham said. "It just wasn't enough. I would say we just ran out of time on the clock.
"I think a key was that we held them to 3-of-12 at 3s. We didn't shoot them the greatest but we made 6-of-15. That was one of our strategies going in -- kind of run them off the 3-point line a little bit."