The Zee-Bees of Zion-Benton are still stinging Mid-Suburban League girls basketball teams.
En route to its second-place finish in the 2011 Class 4A state tourney, Zion stopped Hersey and Barrington in back-to-back weeks.
This year, the Zee-Bees posted wins over MSL teams in the same week to capture the Class 4A Hersey regional title on Friday night in Arlington Heights.
Two days after a stunning comeback against No. 9 Hersey, No. 8 Zion surprised top-seeded Fremd 66-49 behind a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds from Illinois State-bound Octavia Crump.
The powerful 6-foot senior forward scored half of her points in the fourth quarter when Zion pulled away after Fremd had whittled the Zee-Bees’ lead from 13 points to 3.
The Vikes trailed 37-24 midway through the third quarter but a driving layup by junior Ashley McConnell (team-high 16 points) and layup by Jessi Wiedemann (11 points) off an assist from McConnell got the MSL West champs to within 43-40 with 7:06 left in the game.
But just as they did with a 17-0 run to close out Hersey, the Zee-Bees finished with a flourish again.
Back-to-back sweeping layups by sophomore Samantha Rodriguez ignited a 15-6 run to wrap things up for the Zee-Bees (20-8), who will play No. 4 Stevenson (23-7) in Monday’s 6 p.m. semifinal of the Palatine sectional.
“We just didn’t want our season to end,” Crump said. “We’ve been with each other for four years and we knew if we lost, it would be all over.”
Zion grabbed an 8-3 lead early but Fremd (22-6) came back and led 11-8 when senior Sarah Macius hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter.
A pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter by junior Kaitlyn Stabenow (4 3-pointers) helped the Zee-Bees grab a 27-21 lead at intermission.
“With the experience from last season, we are not surprised by anything,” said Stabenow, who hit 6 3-pointers in one game this season. “We just know we have to play hard in every situation.”
Stabenow finished with 13 points while Morgan Franklin added 9 and Rodriguez 8.
“We didn’t knock down shots and kudos to Zion for the way they came out of the gate,” said Fremd coach Dave Yates. “They were hitting shots and some were by kids who hadn’t hit them when we saw them.”
Fremd took it biggest lead at 18-11 after back-to-back driving layups by freshman Haley Gorecki (13 points) and a steal and layup by McConnell.
But Zion got the lead for good at 22-21 when Franklin hit a 14-footer with 1:39 left in the first half.
“We were controlling things until the last three minutes of the first half,” Yates said. “Then things went downhill and downhill quick. But I was proud of the girls’ run in the third quarter.”
Fremd was 16-of-31 at the free throw line.
“Too many uncharacteristic things were going on,” Yates said. “I’ve never seen us miss free throws like that and not take care of the ball like that. Everything seemed to go their (Zion’s) way.
“But I told the girls I was very proud of the season they had. Some parents were expecting a 15-win season but we knew we could do better. The girls had a great season. Unfortunately there are nights like this that every good team has, and we had an off night.”
Zion coach Tanya Johnson called Crump’s performance spectacular.
“That’s the kind of talent she has,” said Johnson, who coached Loyola two Class AA state titles and has turned around the Zion program. “It was a team effort. I’m so proud of the kids. They stuck to the game plan — crash the boards and do the little things. This is great for our school.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.