Stevenson steals a win from Buffalo Grove
It's the holiday season, but the Stevenson girls basketball team wasn't in the spirit of giving Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire.
As a matter of fact, the Patriots were in the mood for taking -- taking away the basketball, that is.
Stevenson recorded 15 steals against visiting Buffalo Grove -- 8 of them by sophomore guard Simone Sawyer -- in a 59-38 nonconference win over the visiting Bison.
Patriots sophomore guard Ava Bardic had 3 steals, as did teammate Nikki Kolz, a senior.
"The past two games our defense has really triggered our offense," said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham, whose team improved to 9-4 on the year.
"Really proud of our kids and their defensive effort today," added Graham. "They made a real commitment to defense -- we were just allowing way too many points earlier in the season."
Avery King scored 18 points for the Patriots while Sawyer added 17.
"In practice we work a lot on denying (the ball), and we especially worked on that this week," said Sawyer of the Patriots' stellar defensive effort. "It's great to see that all our hard work paid off."
"We lost to Buffalo Grove twice last season," said King, "so it was important today that we come out today and establish ourselves and get the win."
Freshman Kora Kipley scored 18 points for Buffalo Grove.
"We knew that Stevenson was a good team coming in," said BG coach Steve Kolodziej. "We had a huge emotional win last night (a last-second victory over Hersey), and we challenged the girls to bring the same passion and enthusiasm to this game. I'm not sure we did that, and when you don't do the little things, you don't do the things you talk about in the scouting report, something like this (a loss) is going to happen."
Stevenson started strong with a 7-0 lead right out of the gate and kept extending the advantage. When Bardic got a steal and a layup midway through the second quarter, the Patriots increased the lead to 28-11.
Buffalo Grove was only able to cut the deficit to 12 in the third quarter after senior guard Macy Floro sank a couple of free throws.
Then Stevenson came out strong in the final period, and another steal and layup from Bardic pushed the home team to a 56-36 advantage, and the Bison couldn't get any closer.
The Patriots had four players in double figures in the contest as Bardic scored 11 while Nikki Ware finished with 10 points,
"We've been fine-tuning some things," said Graham. "Obviously the kids were a little tired, it's finals week, but our practices have been really good and really locked in. Buffalo Grove is a great team -- unfortunately some of their kids are injured -- and Steve does such a great job. They're a really, really quality opponent."
Floro finished with 9 points for BG, teammate Megan Fontanetta pitched in with 6 points, while Kim Stuercke added 5 rebounds.
"They (Stevenson) were hungry, they were more physical, and the had more energy," said Kolodziej. "We looked sluggish. I always have said to the kids that the most important game is the next game -- I've said that to them for eight years -- but it's difficult coming back from a Friday night game and playing Saturday afternoon.
"We knew this game had a lot of magnitude as far as sectional seeding, and hopefully we'll learn from this, and it'll make us better in the long run."