Stevenson edges Libertyville again to maintain NSC lead

Stevenson's rookie coach Regan Carmichael looked backwards to her team's growth towards becoming a more cohesive unit as she sought to find other players who could support their senior center Emory Klatt, a DePaul-bound recruit.

It has included the successful navigation of opponents such as Carmel, Loyola and New Trier in addition to North Suburban Conferences foes Libertyville and Lake Zurich.

"We know there's going to be so much attention to Emory so how can we support her," Carmichael said. "How can we make her feel that it's not one on five. We're really emphasizing (and) preaching do your job, play your role, do what you can to help our team."

And it was in large part Stevenson's ability to provide that technical and logistical support to Klatt that helped them to emerge from a strong Libertyville challenge in their NSC rematch Saturday. The Patriots earned a 49-42 win in Lincolnshire to keep themselves perched atop the standings at 6-0 (17-3 overall), one-and-a-half games ahead of the Wildcats (16-4, 5-2).

The Patriots had won at Libertyville last month 33-32.

"I think we had a good first quarter, (then) we really had a really rough second," said Klatt, the Patriots’ leading scorer (16 points, 9 rebounds). "Both coach Carmichael and (assistant coach Eric) Lueder had a great halftime talk and that's what brought us out with the energy we needed. I think we came out really strong."

The Patriots also needed that strength to survive a rough final eight minutes. After Klatt scored in the paint just 40 seconds in, they would fail to find the basket through rest of the night on their remaining five attempts.

Stevenson did connect at the foul line six straight times in the final 1:29 as senior guard Laurel Jewell (6 points) went 4-for-4 besides a pair from Klatt.

The Patriots also showed their defensive strength holding the Wildcats to just 2-8 shooting from the floor in the fourth.

Junior guard Nisha Musunuri added 12 points in the victorious effort followed by 9 from senior teammate Kendall Williams and 6 from junior Sydney Rosland.

"I'm so proud of the girls," a vocally strained Carmichael said. "Kendall's getting steals, working her (tail) off on defense. Nisha's hitting big shots. Laurel has struggled the last couple of games but (hit) huge free throws down the stretch. Tonight was a series of ups and downs but I really thought our kids (responded)."

The senior Rule sisters, Rachel and Kate, led the Wildcats. Rachel topped all scorers with 17 points plus 6 rebounds while Kate added 13 points and 5 rebounds.

"We did not have the energy level in the fourth quarter that we're accustomed to having and you see it from a mile away," Libertyville coach Greg Pedesen said. "Without it you can't compete that way. They deserved to win. They played better than us in the fourth quarter."

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