Girls basketball: Lake Zurich ices out Stevenson at regional final
Lake Zurich iced out Stevenson in the regional final Thursday.
The Bears, on their home turf, used a solid defensive effort to defeat the defending 4A state champion Patriots 66-43.
It was the second year in a row that Lake Zurich had knocked out the defending state champions. The Bears eliminated Fremd last season.
Lake Zurich (25-7) will meet top sectional seed Fremd next Tuesday at Highland Park after the Vikings eliminated Warren 52-19.
"Our kids were focused from point one," Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett said. "We limped through the Grant game the other night with first-game jitters. Tonight we just came out figured. Stevenson is a big rival.
Something had to give as the teams had split their two earlier meetings. Each team won on their opponent's home court.
Lake Zurich made sure that wouldn't happen again.
The Bears attacked the paint like it was a honey tree. Their offense used screens and back cuts to get to the basket nearly at will.
"Having Baylie (Parks) back was huge" Bennett said. "We ran our offense really well. We were just more focused than we have been in a while."
Parks, who didn't play when Lake Zurich lost to Stevenson, was on fire the whole game. The senior finished with a career-high 26 points and added 10 rebounds.
Parks and Anna Gilberston used their size to get the basket for uncontested baskets. That enabled Lake Zurich to convert 10 of their first 14 shots as they built a 25-8 lead midway through the second quarter.
"That was really fun," Parks said. "It is always best when we can get the easy layups. We moved the ball really well to get those. And it works out for us."
Lake Zurich wasn't done.
The Bears continued to squeeze Stevenson on the defensive end. They paid special attention to Emory Klatt, with Gilbertson fronting her and a variety of her teammates helping. Klatt, who is junior, did score 17 points but was forced to work hard for every one.
Lake Zurich continued their onslaught on offense. They got their lead up to 21 points -- 34-13 -- just before the end of the half and increased that lead to 45-20 midway through the third quarter.
Stevenson (21-12) tried to make a late run. The Patriots did get it to 54-36 midway through the fourth quarter, but Lake Zurich ran 1:08 off the clock with Parks scoring to put the game away.
"I thought they came out and played really, really tough," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "Our kids showed a never-quit-attitude as well. We kept battling. Some nights just aren't your night."
Nisha Musunuri had 15 points for Stevenson while Emma Brooks had five points.
Layne Nordstrom had 15 points for Lake Zurich. Molly Friesen had 14 points, Gilberston seven points and five rebounds while Brooke Wahlund had two points and eight rebounds.
Hersey 78, Prospect 55:
For the first time in the action-packed three-game series between the Hersey and Prospect girls basketball teams this season, the home prevailed.
No. 3-seeded Hersey, playing on its own floor for the Class 4A regional on Thursday night, used a big surge at the end of the first half to take command and never looked back in a 78-55 triumph over the No. 6-seeded Knights at the Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
The No. 3 seeded Huskies (25-8) will face the winner of Friday's regional title at Rolling Meadows between No. 2 Libertyville and No. 7 Rolling Meadows at Tuesday's Highland Park sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m.
With the score tied at 25-25, Hersey closed out the first half on a 14-1 run, beginning with a 3-point point play and a 3-point basket from Michigan-bound Katy Eidle (game-high 24 points).
By the time Eidle scored the final basket on a fastbreak layup with three seconds left, Hersey led 39-26 at the break.
A 3-pointer and a jump shot by Gina Falls got Prospect to within 47-38 with 3:31 left in the third quarter but baskets by Mackenzie Ginder, Annika Manthy (13 points) and Eidle's fastbreak layup with two seconds left gave Hersey a 56-39 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Knights never got closer. Natalie Alesia's 3-pointer made it 63-43 with 6:32 left in the game.
Senior Meghan Mrowicki added 10 points for Hersey.
The Huskies' 78 points were easily the most scored by either team in the three games.
Alesia, who had a big run of 12 straight points when Hersey beat Prospect in the first matchup, had two big layups during the Knights' big run at the end of the first half.
"When it mattered, we really wanted it," the senior said. "We were able to play our game and didn't let the rivalry take us out of the game. Prospect is a great team and I'm proud of them. I'm also proud of us."
It was Hersey's 20th regional in program history and 14th for coach Mary Fendley, whose career record now stands at 534-215 in 30 seasons,
Prospect (23-10) was led by freshman Alli Linke's 22 points followed by Molly Gilhooly (12) and Nicole Atteo (6).
-- John Leusch
Fremd 52, Warren 19:
The top-seeded Vikings put Warren's hopes for an upset and their season in a deep freeze as it chilled the eighth-seeded Blue Devils 52-19 to earn a bid to Tuesday evening's first Highland Park sectional semifinal against No. 4 seed Lake Zurich (25-7).
Fremd defeated the Bears in their season opener 52-44 on Nov. 14.
"I was kind of worried as the school day was ending and other (school) events were being canceled, but we just moved up (our schedule) and got our bus earlier and we were good," Fremd sophomore guard Ella Todd said after her game-high 17 points paved the way for the Vikings (30-2).
The win also marked Fremd's 26th regional title and its 10th under coach Dave Yates.
In addition, it is the Vikings' third 30-win campaign in school history and first since it went 30-7 in its 4A state title season three winters ago.
After a Nari Powers field goal got Warren (12-18) on the board to tie the game at 2-2, the Blue Devils would see their next 13 attempts from the floor go unsuccessful as it finished 1-for-15 over the first 16 minutes.
Meanwhile, Fremd went on a 19-0 run that only came to an end after a pair of Shay Love charity tosses with seven ticks left in the first half that left the regional hosts trailing 21-4 at halftime.
Six-3 junior center Brynn Eshoo added 10 points for the Vikings while Powers' 9 paced Warren.
Todd and teammates look forward to Tuesday's matchup as they seek to advance past where their season ended a year ago in the round of 32.
"We got here last year, but we lost and we don't want that to happen again," Todd said. "We can beat anyone if we play our game."
-- Lou Nunez Jr.
Vernon Hills 57, St. Viator 48:
Vernon Hills seniors Grace Koepke and Ava Barszcz each had 11 points in the first half Thursday against St. Viator.
They were coming, however, in extremely different ways.
The 6-foot-4 Koepke was dominating inside, with all of her points coming in the paint.
Senior classmate Barszcz, meanwhile, was bombing away from 3-point land, hitting 3 consecutive 3s in the second quarter.
And no matter how the scores were tallied, it all added up to a Vernon Hills Class 3A girls basketball regional championship victory on its home court,
The Cougars broke the game open with a 13-point run in the second stanza en route to a 57-48 win.
"This means a lot," said Koepke, who finished with 21 points and 21 rebounds. "My freshman year we lost to Viator in the regional finals, so coming back (to win today) just shows how hard the girls fought."
Viator didn't go down without a battle. The Lions rallied in the fourth quarter to get within 6 points late, but couldn't get any closer.
"We played aggressive, we struggled with rebounding, but we fought tonight," said Viator sophomore Allia Von Schlegell.
"We had ups and downs this year," added Von Schlegell. "We had a really young team, but I thought we played very well for being so young."
Guard Molly Craig was the only senior on the Lions roster this year.
"A lot of emotions tonight," said Craig. "It is a young team so I haven't been with a lot of the players for that long, but we've bonded in the last two years. We've gotten super close and it's going to be difficult leaving them."
The Cougars led by just one midway through the second quarter when Barszcz hit 3 straight 3s in the span of a couple minutes, and just like that they led 30-16.
Barszcz opened the third with a turnaround jumper on an assist by Shayanne St. Louis, and the Cougars opened up a 44-29 advantage when Alexa Cieslinski got a rebound, dribbled out and nailed a long 3.
"That really helped us," said Keopke of the great long-range shooting by Barszcz. "She did a great job and gave us the momentum. We've been working on our 3s quite a lot."
Viator junior Mia Bergstrom kept her team in the game with some sharpshooting of her own.
Bergstrom had 5 3-pointers as she scored a game-high 25 points, and the Lions wound up hitting 9 shots from behind the arc in the game.
Bergstrom's fifth 3 of the game with 30 seconds left got Viator to within 54-48, but Koepke and Elyse Davis sank late free throws to close the game out.
Von Schlegell scored 10 points for the Lions, while Barszcz totaled 18 for VH.
Cieslinski had 7 points and 7 boards for the Cougars who outrebounded Viator 42-19.
"We've been working really hard for this," said Cougars freshman forward Anahya Castro. "I'm proud of our team."
And the goal moving on for the Cougars?
"Just keep winning," said Castro, "and keep trying our best."
-- Bill Esbrook