Stevenson survives Lake Zurich in 2 OTs

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/12/2022 11:58 AM

Every game is a good game in the North Suburban Conference and it's not that easy to come away with a victory even if you're unbeaten.

Stevenson's girls basketball team was starting its second time around in league play and knew that host Lake Zurich would give it a battle to the very end.

 

What the Patriots didn't realize that they would be playing beyond regulation, and it took a couple overtimes to pull out the victory as Stevenson got past a stingy Lake Zurich 63-57 in 2 OTs in Lake Zurich on Tuesday night.

"Lake Zurich always plays us tough and I always have so much respect for (coach) Chris (Bennett) and their program," said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham, whose team is now 19-1 and 8-0 in the NSC. "But give credit to our kids for hitting shots. It's about having a championship mentality and never putting your head down in those situations. We didn't give up and we battled through some of our hiccups. That's what great teams and great players do."

In the second overtime, freshman Nisha Musunuri hit a 3-pointer that put the Patriots up for good 56-54 with 2:08 left.

"Big shots mean a lot to me," Musunuri said. "During the moment I don't think about it. It's really after, when the team picks me up and everything comes together. It means a lot to me in big games like that."

Kate Arne hit a couple of free throws of her 11 points and Penn recruit Simone Sawyer made 5 of 8 free throws with four-in-a-row in the final 15 seconds for the 6-point difference.

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"It was a crazy game and definitely a battle," said Sawyer, who had 19 points. "Lake Zurich was a really good team. We knew it was going to be a close one. Free throws are important in games. Sometimes you get rushed and the crowd is yelling. It's important that we all made our free throws at the end."

Lake Zurich (10-8, 2-4) rallied back from a 41-30 fourth quarter deficit and tied the game in the final seconds of regulation as Avery Cooper hit a short jump shot that forced the overtime.

The Bears took that momentum into the first overtime behind Anna Gilbertson (21 points) and Lewis recruit Alayna Soukup 14 points that gave the Bears a 4-point advantage in the final minute.

But the Patriots' Ava Bardic had a 3-point play of her team-high 20 points and Sawyer dropped in a game-tying 3 with 8 seconds left that forced the second overtime.

"Always great games with Stevenson and fun games, well-coached and so much fun to play," Benett said. "We always have great games with them every time. Honestly, we know we can play with good teams. We're trying to find that last minute execution. Trying to find who makes the play and gets the stop. We just gave up too many points early in the game. You have to play good enough defense and you can't do that against a good team like Stevenson. Still proud of our effort and a great game."

Baylie Parks added 11 points for the Bears.

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