Fisher's buzzer-beater stuns Stevenson
With a little over seven minutes remaining in the game Friday night at Libertyville, Wildcats senior Emily Fisher went to the bench after committing her fourth foul.
Visiting Stevenson was in the midst of a big-time comeback at that point, and as a matter of fact the Patriots had erased a 9-point deficit to take a 4-point lead down the stretch.
With that in mind, Fisher, a 6-foot guard, talked about what she had to do once she got back into the lineup.
"I just needed to get it going on offense," said Fisher, "and we needed to get some stops on defense."
Libertyville wound up doing exactly that on both ends of the court, as the Wildcats held Stevenson scoreless in the final two minutes while Fisher took charge on the offensive end.
The senior scored the final 6 points of the game, including a game-winning jumper at the buzzer as the Wildcats won 40-38 in a thrilling North Suburban Conference girls basketball matchup.
And according to Libertyville junior Maddy Kopala, who played terrific defense in the paint the entire game, there was no question that her squad was going to put it all together at crunchtime.
"I don't think anyone on our team had a doubt in our mind that this wouldn't be our game," said Kopala.
The Wildcats win offset a great performance from Stevenson junior Emory Klatt, who scored 10 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter.
"I'm really proud of our kids tonight," said Patriots coach Ashley Graham. "They were resilient, they battled back and never gave up."
Libertyville played great throughout the first half, and when Rachel Rule hit a 3 in the second stanza, the Wildcats' lead was 21-12.
But sophomore guard Sydney Rosland came off the bench to give Stevenson a spark.
Rosland, in the space of just a little over a minute, made a big block, got a steal, hit a jumper and then a 3-pointer to bring the Pats closer.
Then in the third quarter, Stevenson clamped down on defense.
"It's physically difficult going up against them (Stevenson)," said Kopala. "Just getting position, trying to outplay them, and staying mentally tough throughout the entire game."
Libertyville (17-3, 7-1) still led through most of the final period, and when Kate Rule made a steal and then a 3, the score was 34-28 Wildcats.
Then the Pats (15-7, 5-3) rallied, and when Klatt hit a coast-to-coast layup, Stevenson led 38-34 with 2:02 on the clock.
That set the stage for Fisher and the Wildcats. First the senior sank two free throws, then her layup tied the contest up with under a minute left.
Libertyville got the ball back after a change of possession and called timeout with 9 ticks left. A great pass found Fisher just inside the 3-point line on the wing, and she swished the jumper at the horn for the victory.
"We believe in Emily 100%," said Kopala. "When she got the ball, I had a smile on my face because I knew she was going to make it."
"Great job by a great player (Fisher)," added Graham. "Any time she's on the floor, something good can happen for Libertyville. She's that talented."
Fisher said that as the clock was winding down, she didn't know what was about to transpire.
"I did not think I was going to get the ball," said the senior. "Honestly I tried to get it, and the lane is never open in a game like this, so I just took (the jump shot)."
"It was a very chaotic moment, but it was worth it."
Fisher led Libertyville with 14 points, while Kate Rule, Rachel Rule and Talya Tillman each scored 7.
Nisha Musunuri pitched in with 7 points for Stevenson.
"There's definitely some things we need to work on as far as finishing games," said Graham. "We'll continue to work on it in practice, and the only way to go about it is keeping our heads up and sticking together."
"One hundred percent, I'm sure our kids are going to do that."