Ware, Stevenson wear down Lake Park
A college basketball coach from a prestigious university watched Monday night's third-place girls game at Dundee-Crown.
And, yes, another one -- DePaul coach Doug Bruno -- was there too to watch his future Blue Demon, Lake Park senior guard Darrione Rogers.
Afterward, Stevenson junior point guard Nikki Ware, much shorter than the 5-foot-11 Rogers and not quite as big of a recruit, was talking to a coach from Ivy League member Cornell University.
"Who wouldn't want her?" Stevenson assistant coach Tom Kelly said of the 5-5 Ware, a varsity player since her freshman year. "She's a great student (straight A's), good leader."
Clutch player, too.
Ware buried back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter against Lake Park, sending Stevenson on its way to a 60-52 win in the two teams' finale of the 37th annual Komaromy Classic in Carpentersville.
"She's fearless," Kelly, who was filling in for head coach Ashley Graham (family commitment), said of Ware. "She's so short. She's always the shortest one (on the court)."
Rogers didn't have her best shooting night (7 of 27, including 2 of 12 from the arc) but still poured in 31 points to easily lead all scorers and grabbed 9 rebounds. While Lake Park (10-4, 2-2 tournament) received only 21 points from its other players, Stevenson (12-5, 3-1 tourney) got 13 points apiece from Ware, Simone Sawyer and Ava Bardic (4 assists, 3 steals). Lydia Lueck added a season-high 10 points coming off the bench, and Avery King had 9. Ware hit three of the Patriots' nine 3-pointers.
"You're going to give up points to a team like that, that spreads you out," Lake Park coach Brian Rupp said. "I don't think defensive effort was an issue or problem or anything like that. I think it was that they made some pretty key shots in pretty key moments. We couldn't adjust."
Four Stevenson players, led by Ware (8 points), scored in the final quarter, as the Patriots outscored the Lancers 23-16 after leading only 37-36 after three.
"It was very difficult because all five (Stevenson) girls out there can score the ball," Rogers said. "Credit to them. They hit big shots when they needed. Overall, I thought our defense was way better than it was against Maine South (54-39 semifinal loss). But we still could improve on how we guarded the ball in the fourth quarter."
Ware went to bench after picking up 2 fouls in the first three minutes of the game, but Kelly put her back in the game late in the first quarter.
"Because I have confidence in her," Kelly said. "She's a veteran now. She knows how to play with fouls. And we need her on the floor -- her leadership, her toughness, her shooting."
A drive by Rogers gave Lake Park a 38-37 lead early in the fourth, but then Ware knocked down her pair of 3s 72 seconds apart.
"Our team was moving the ball really well," Ware said. "We hit a stride and I just thought, 'Shoot when you can shoot,' and it worked out for us in the end."
Ware appreciated the lift her classmate and teammate Lueck provided early in the game. Lueck (4-of-4 shooting) scored 7 points in the opening quarter and drained her second 3-pointer in the second quarter.
"Awesome, awesome player," a beaming Ware said. "She works her butt off. One of the hardest workers on the team. I'm so glad that she got a chance tonight to show what she can do."
Sara Balli added 8 points and 9 rebounds for Lake Park.