Confident Bardic buries winning 3 for Stevenson
Shooters shoot, even when not shooting well.
Stevenson shooter Ava Bardic shot because, shoot, she was open.
And a good thing happened for the Patriots.
Bardic buried a right-wing 3-pointer off an inbounds pass from Nikki Kolz with 15 seconds left in Tuesday night's nonconference game against visiting Carmel Catholic, allowing Stevenson to escape with a 42-40 win in a battle between two of Lake County's best girls basketball teams.
Stevenson (13-6) led Carmel (12-3) most of the night before surrendering the lead late.
"The play was not for me," Bardic said with a chuckle. "It was for anybody that could get open. I knew we needed it, so I had full confidence. I was like, 'No matter what [happens], I don't care. I need to shoot it.' "
The 5-foot-7 Bardic finished with 13 points (three 3-pointers), 6 rebounds and 3 steals. She was 2 of 10 from the arc before splashing her winning 3.
"It felt pretty great," Bardic said with a wide smile. "It was a really good play. I think anybody who was open on our team could have probably knocked it down."
Stevenson coach Ashley Graham had complete confidence in Bardic, a sophomore who's in her second season as a varsity starter.
"I assumed [Carmel] was going to be in a zone [on the inbounds pass]," Graham said. "It looked like they were in a little bit of box guarding Avery [King]. We were in a stack alignment for Avery to cut into an open space underneath the zone or on top of the zone. It wasn't there, but we put two shooters breaking to the two corners.
"We talk a lot about Ava's mental toughness," Graham added. "She's such a good player physically, so gifted. ... What a great moment for her."
Before the game, Stevenson honored fourth-year varsity forward King with a souvenir ball for scoring her 1,000th point in the Patriots' last game. King then went out and totaled 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks. Nikki Ware scored all 7 of her points in the second half for the Patriots, who took a 31-25 lead into the fourth but fell behind 40-39 on a driving layup by Kaytlyn Matz (9 points) with 1:58 to go.
It was Carmel's first lead since Grace Sullivan (6 points, 5 rebounds) opened the scoring 30 seconds into the game.
"We started hitting a few shots and started getting the ball to the basket," said Carmel coach Ben Berg, whose daughter Emma scored all 6 of her points (2-of-2 shooting, 2 of 2 from the foul line) in the fourth.
Jordan Wood sparked Carmel's second-half comeback, scoring 13 of her team-high 16 points. The 6-4 freshman missed her first 6 shots before hitting a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to get the Corsairs within 20-15 at halftime. Her 3 with 2:27 left in the fourth cut Stevenson's lead to 39-38.
"I think second half I just realized I had to pick it up to help my teammates out," said Wood, who also had 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Ben Berg acknowledged Stevenson was the best team his Corsairs have faced this season.
"Especially at the defensive end of the floor," said Berg, whose team had won its last five games. "They get after it. They get up into you and they make things tough. We didn't turn the ball over a lot in the first half, but they took us out of what we wanted to do. I thought in the second half we got a little bit more of a rhythm, especially late third quarter and the fourth quarter."