Huber, Libertyville stun Stevenson
Maybe the most fantastic 24 hours in Lauren Huber's basketball life didn't come without a stretch of sadness.
During a late third-quarter timeout at Stevenson on Wednesday night, with their Wildcats down 15 points, Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen and assistant Amy Holtsford looked at Huber and her teammates, none of whom were smiling.
Getting blown out against a rival in a conference game can cause long faces.
Said Pedersen: "We told them, 'You guys look sad. Don't be sad. Be angry.' "
The Wildcats listened -- and pressed full-court.
By game's end, Huber and her teammates were smiling. Pedersen and Holtsford shared a fist bump.
Behind Huber's career-high 22 points and 7 rebounds, relentless fourth-quarter pressure, and Lydia Crow's 17 points, including a trio of fourth-quarter 3-pointers, Libertyville stunned Stevenson 57-54 in a North Suburban Conference thriller.
"It was, honestly, unreal," said Huber, the 5-foot-10 junior guard and three-year varsity starter who on Tuesday night picked up her first scholarship offer, from Eastern Illinois University. "We were down and then 'Holts,' our assistant coach, said, 'Just have fun with it, because it's basketball. This is what we love to do. We just have to embrace it.' We ended up doing that. We pressed and we came back, and it was just great."
Libertyville (5-4, 2-1) trailed 45-30 after three quarters, then fell behind by 17 points 30 seconds into the fourth after a steal and layup bt Patriots guard Simone Sawyer. Avery King and Sawyer led Stevenson (7-3, 1-2) with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
"I think we were just comfortable for three quarters," King said. "Once they started pressing us, it just got to us and they went on a run."
"We panicked," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "I think our youth showed. It wasn't a matter of getting the ball inbounds. It was a matter of handling the pressure and handling double-teams, and we didn't do that. That's a credit to Libertyville."
Graham also credited the Wildcats for hitting "tremendous shots" and executing "big high-school plays by really nice, talented players."
Libertyville's comeback was similar to its one against Lake Forest last week. The Wildcats erased a 19-point, third-quarter deficit but lost by 4 points.
"Our coaches always say to get up in the third quarter, but we always seem to get down," Huber said. "Then in the fourth quarter we come and press and it's madness, and we're running around."
Marianna Morrissey and Morgan Spaulding (3 fourth-quarter steals) helped give the Wildcats a defensive jolt. Morrissey hit 2 of 4 free throws in the fourth.
"We're finding out that our half-court defensive pressure has to be better, because when we go full court, we look really good," said Pedersen, whose Wildcats made 13 of 18 free throws in the final quarter. "When we sit in the half court, we don't look as good."
Huber shot 7 of 13 from the floor and, just as importantly, ran the point down the stretch. Her pullup, top-of-the-key 3-pointer (her third of the game) rolled in to give Libertyville a 53-51 lead with 1:28 to go.
"I was just like, 'Let's shoot it,' because (the defender) was sagging off," Huber said.
When Wildcats guard Margaret Buchert (7 points, 6 rebounds) hit a free throw with 7.4 seconds left, it capped a 27-4 run. Buchert had missed the Wildcats' last two games with a bruised hip.
Huber, who had a career-high 19 points in the Lake Forest game, has been more assertive at the offensive end this season.
"We're really proud of her because we challenged her to attack and attack (against Stevenson)," Pedersen said. "We're going to be tough if she's able to have the ball and start breaking people down from the beginning."