Stevenson shakes off slow start, beats Lake Zurich

On Friday, Stevenson was the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

But the Patriots found the bull's-eye just when the needed it to rally to beat Lake Zurich 50-42 in Lincolnshire.

With the win, coupled with Libertyville's 50-45 loss to Warren, the Patriots (14-3, 6-1) reclaimed sole possession of first place in the North Suburban Conference.

"We finally got a rhythm," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "We couldn't score. Then we couldn't defend. And at the end we could score and defend. It turned to a game that we kind of wanted."

Stevenson struggled mightily in the first 12 minutes of the game.

The Patriots had difficulty solving Lake Zurich's 1-2-2 defense. Then, when a Stevenson shooter could shake fee on the perimeter, they would fail to convert as the Patriots went 1-of-15 with four turnovers during that span.

"We had some decent looks," Ambrose said. "And we were at home and we did shooting yesterday and today. It's not like we were surprised that they play zone. They play zone."

Unfortunately for Lake Zurich, their offense could not fare much better. The Bears hit just four field goals to lead 12-3.

Stevenson finally got its offense rolling.

Davis Sulnius knocked down a three-pointer and then followed with a successful three-point play. Brandon Sorokin then added a basket to complete an 8-0 run and suddenly Stevenson was back in the game.

The Patriots were able to tie the game at 14-14 on the last play of the first half on a basket by Aidan Bardic.

Both teams found their offenses in a big way in the third quarter and most if it came from outside the arc. Stevenson knocked down 7-of-8 shots to pull ahead 32-30.

Undaunted, Lake Zurich (11-8, 3-4) got a free throw from Nick Popovic and a basket from Ryan Carrol. That enabled the Bears to convert 7-of-9 shots from the floor and take a 33-32 lead after three quarters.

Lake Zurich went ahead 35-32 early in the fourth quarter on a basket by Anton Strelikov. That's when Michael Maloney parked the Patriots.

The senior fought for a rebound inside after Stevenson's seventh consecutive missed shot and got a putback to cut the lead to 35-34. On Stevenson's next possession, the senior buried a three-point shot to make it 37-35.

The Bears took the lead back on a three by Carrol. Again, Maloney came through with a basket inside to make 39-38 with 3:23 to play.

"We didn't come in as focused as we wanted to," said Maloney, who finished with seven points. "I knew I had to provide something for my team. I find most of my points inside off the glass. I also got a rare three."

Lake Zurich took its final lead on three-point play Brendan Powers with 2:54 left.

The Patriots the took the lead for good at 42-41 on a three-pointer by Brandon Sorokin with 1:37 left. Sorokin then followed up with a pair of free throws with 46.8 seconds left.

That gave the Patriots momentum from the line as Stevenson would make six consecutive free throws. Sorokin knocked down four of these and David Sulnius (14 points) would convert two.

"It comes from the coaches who have confidence in my shot," said Sorokin, who came off the bench to score 15 points. "That is a big part as a senior to have the coaches behind me and supporting me."

Jack Dabbs would add seven points for Stevenson. Lake Zurich was led by Strelnikov with 12 points while Powers and Carrol each had nine points.

"I am proud of our guys," Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin said. "That's a team we are going to have to beat in a sectional or regional game. We just have to take care of things. We had some silly turnovers during the stretch and the game got a little fast. We had controlled the tempo up to that."

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