Stevenson's defense shuts down Libertyville
Stevenson turned up its defensive pressure and shut off Libertyville in the semifinals of the Class 4A girls basketball sectional at Warren in Gurnee Tuesday.
The Patriots limited Libertyville to 32 (12-of-37) shooting while forcing 19 turnovers as they cruised to a 42-30 win.
"We knew this want going to be pretty," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "It was just two teams that were extremely familiar with each other. I commend our heart, our ability to dig in and get this win."
Top-seeded Stevenson (32-2) will meet sixth-seeded Lake Zurich (20-11) in the sectional title game Thursday at 7 p.m.
Familiarity was the key as both teams were cautious and deliberate in the first half of the third meeting between the teams. Stevenson had won the previous two meetings between the North Suburban Conference rivals and took control in the second quarter.
Leading 9-7 after the fist quarter, Stevenson upped its defensive pressure. The Patriots doubled Libertyville ace Emily Fisher, forcing her from the basket. The Wildcats also had trouble on the offensive end, turning the ball over 8 times while shooting just 3-of-14 from the field.
"I am proud of our kids and their ability to stick to the game plan," Graham said. "We played tremendous defense and did a great job on the boards."
That enabled Stevenson, which led 9-7 after the first quarter, to lead 15-9 midway though the second quarter and 19-11 at the half.
With their defense stopping the Wildcats and the Patriots' Emory Klatt (8 points, 13 rebounds) limiting second chances, Stevenson was able to open up a 30-18 lead late in the third quarter.
"They are good shooters," Klatt said "But we were able to shut them down. We forced them to take tough shots and that's where the rebounds came from."
The Patriots also struggled from the field and that gave Libertyville (23-11) an opportunity. Behind. Kate Rule (6 points), the Wildcats scored six consecutive points to pull to 30-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Stevenson finally found its offensive stride. The Patriots, who held Libertyville scoreless for the next four minutes, scored 10 unanswered points with Klatt scoring the final 4 points.
"We know each other real well," said Simone Sawyer, who led Stevenson with 15 points. "It was kind of nice to know what they were going to do. They knew what we were going to do. That made it real competitive."
Ava Bardic had 9 points for Stevenson while Fisher led Libertyville with 14 points.
"We had a fair amount of shots that did not go down for us today," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said. "There was only one team we lost to in the conference. They are just really good. We are looking to have response from our kids next season when they get a little bit older."