Musunuri, Stevenson shoot past shorthanded Lake Zurich
Stevenson sophomore guard Nisha Musunuri felt that she hadn't been playing up to her standards in the last couple of games.
"To be perfectly honest, I've been in a slump in terms of scoring," she said. "So tonight I just wanted to not think about it and let my game do the work for me.
"I just saw an opening and I took it."
Musunuri did that and a whole lot more Friday night, pouring in a game-high 19 points as the visiting Patriots defeated Lake Zurich 46-35.
The sophomore was a force on the defensive end as well in the North Suburban Conference girls basketball win.
"That kid just has so much fire and passion for the game of basketball," said Stevenson coach Ashley Graham of Musunuri. "She has a will to win, and her feeling that she wants what's best for the team and her teammates is so strong.
"She's been shooting the ball better, we've been working on her confidence and man, did she just have a wonderful night."
It was the first conference loss of the season for Lake Zurich (17-5, 8-1).
The Bears played without 6-2 sophomore Avery Cooper and 6-0 senior Baylie Parks, and LZ coach Chris Bennett said the status of both is "day-to-day."
"I thought we battled tonight," said Bennett. "We played a good game, but Stevenson is just playing really well right now. They hit some shots and we didn't do a great job of defending."
Musunuri scored 10 points in the first eight minutes as Stevenson built a lead, but LZ was able to keep pace, and when Bears freshman guard Layne Nordstrom hit a couple of late buckets before intermission, the Patriots' advantage was just 23-21.
The score was tied at 25-all midway through the third stanza when Musunuri hit a long 3, and that sent the Patriots on to an 18-1 run to take control of the game.
Stevenson junior forward Emory Klatt, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, scored three straight baskets in the paint to open up the fourth -- all coming on great passes from teammate Kate Arne.
LZ fought back in the final period, led by sophomore Molly Friesen (team-high 11 points), but the Bears couldn't get any closer than the final score.
Anna Gilbertson scored 9 points for LZ, while Leah Gilbertson, Maya Paniak and Ramona Foreman came off the bench in the fourth quarter to hit buckets for the Bears.
Stevenson junior guard Emma Brooks had 11 points including three 3-pointers, while Musunuri pitched in to the strong Patriots effort on defense with 4 steals.
"I'm just so proud of her resilience and her ability to bounce back after a couple of tough shooting nights," said Graham of Musunuri.
"I think we've finally figured ourselves out," said the sophomore guard. "Our energy and our scoring ability have improved tremendously since the beginning of the season."
"We've stayed together as a team and we've come back strong and that's been great to see. The future looks good."