Stevenson 'zooms' past Warren
The Zoom dribbling drills may have seemed silly at the time.
But the girls on the Stevenson girls basketball team are seeing their efforts during the quarantine, big or small, pay off.
After a quiet first quarter in the fifth game of their COVID-shortened season Tuesday night, the Patriots suddenly looked as if they were in midseason form and "zoomed" right by host Warren for a 56-29 victory.
Stevenson, which finished the first quarter tied 8-8 with Warren, blew open a 15-point lead at halftime and was up by 27 points by the end of the third quarter.
The Patriots are now 5-0 on the season.
"We did a lot of Zoom calls to work on ball-handling and motivation and mental toughness and my kids would be in a gym somewhere, not always their basement. They put in a lot of individual time and devoted a ton of themselves to this game," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "I'm just lucky to have them."
Graham is certainly lucky to have a roster stacked with talent.
Two seniors have already secured spots on college rosters. Nikki Ware is going to Grinnell and Lydia Lueck is going to Lawrence.
Then there's junior Simone Sawyer. She has a handful of Division I offers, including Cleveland State, Florida International, Indiana State and Missouri-Kansas City.
Sawyer poured in a game-high 26 points. She is just 11 points from 1,000 career points.
"I think our team is really special this year and has been for awhile, but particularly this year," Sawyer said. "We have a range from freshmen to seniors and everybody has a role on our team. It doesn't have to be points but everyone has something and I think that's what makes it so special. We have talent and role models and leadership and a really good culture here so I think that's the best part. The culture that we have built is like a family."
The Patriots also got double-figures from freshman Emory Klatt. She finished with 12 points.
Sawyer and Klatt played a big role in helping Stevenson pull away over the second and third quarters.
Sawyer scored 9 points in the second as Stevenson turned up the pressure and forced turnovers. Warren had 18 first half-turnovers and 26 on the game.
In the third quarter, Sawyer (9 points) and Klatt (8 points) combined for 17 points.
"In the first quarter, we were on our heels a little bit," Graham said. "It was the first time we've seen a zone and we haven't had enough practices to get in the flow on that. But we did better in the second quarter and in the second half against their zone.
"We return so much game experience. And we have kids who have devoted a lot of their youth to basketball. So they're ready for this. They've been waiting for this."
The only player to score in double-figures for Warren was Caroline Sharpe.
The 5-foot-7 senior, who is also going to Lawrence University to play basketball, scored 11 points. She hit 3-of-5 3-pointers.
"They are super tough," Sharpe said of Stevenson. "On defense, they are always in the lane, always in the gap. They made it really tough to get the ball into the wings. They are always hustling and always on the go. On offense, they have shooters and people in the post and people who can drive. They are very versatile.
"We had fresh legs when we came out but we got tired in the second quarter and that's been our Achilles' heel this season. We get tired really easily. They didn't get tired and they kept hustling. But I'm just excited we're playing. I really wanted a senior season."