Stevenson holds off LZ, stays unbeaten in NSC

Usually, an 8-point lead in the fourth quarter is reason to relax. But this was Stevenson vs. Lake Zurich. It wasn't over until the final buzzer.

The visiting Bears kept battling back and missed two potential game-winning shots in the final seconds as Stevenson hung on for a 38-37 win Friday in Lincolnshire. The Patriots (19-3, 8-0) remained unbeaten in the North Suburban Conference.

“It's a Stevenson-Lake Zurich game,” LZ coach Chris Bennett said. “We get up for these games, we play well. It's always going to be a dogfight. This was another typical game, we just couldn't get it done at the end.”

Regan Carmichael is in her first season as Stevenson head coach, but is learning quickly about the Route 22 rivalry. These teams played a 3-point game earlier this season, while LZ knocked the Patriots out of the state tournament last spring.

“That was a weird game. I felt like we could never really exhale,” Carmichael said. “That's a credit to them. I'm learning quickly that's a Stevenson-LZ thing.”

Stevenson opened the fourth quarter with a steal and layin from DePaul-bound Emory Klatt, followed by a 3-pointer from Emma Brooks to take a seemingly commanding 36-28 lead.

But the Bears weren't done, answering with an 8-0 surge. Avery Cooper's layup brought LZ within 2, then a baseline spin and layup by Anna Gilbertson tied the score with 1:52 remaining.

Lake Zurich (12-12, 7-3) got a defensive stop, but Stevenson trapped the ball near halfcourt, leading to a Klatt steal and Sydney Rosland fast-break follow to put the Patriots back up by 2 with 1:20 left.

Stevenson's Nisha Musunuri came up with a steal with under a minute to play. At that point, the Bears had zero team fouls, so they had to start hacking quickly. Before the Patriots could be fouled into the bonus, though, LZ's Sydney Lappin came up with a steal with 14.4 seconds on the clock.

Stevenson had committed just 2 team fouls, so the plan was to take a few fouls as the clock ran down. The problem was, the Patriots put a bear-hug on Gilbertson after she'd already passed the ball. An intentional foul was called, giving the Bears two free throws plus possession. Gilbertson split the free throws, then missed a driving scoop while Alex Nowak-Tice's putback attempt fell short at the buzzer.

“That intentional foul kind of killed us, because we had a layup on that play,” Bennett said. “It is what it is. Stevenson, man, they're a good team. They're going to do some damage in the playoffs.”

Cooper was the game's high-scorer with 15 points. She's a junior coming off knee surgery and got a late start to the season.

“She was part-time in December, now she's kind of 80-90 (percent back),” Bennett said. “When she feels good and you can tell she's not thinking about it, she can make plays.”

Stevenson had nice scoring balance. Klatt led with 11 points, Rosland had 10, and Brooks 8.

“Emory's always going to get a lot of attention. Teams will game-plan against how to stop Emory in the post,” Carmichael said. “We are so fortunate and what makes us so dynamic is we have some really great pieces to support that.”

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