Stevenson stifles Vernon Hills, ruins unbeaten season
Vernon Hills Tuesday, 1/8/13 Stevenson's Alex Elzinga (42) puts up a shot during the second quarter of Tuesday evening's game at Vernon Hills. Stevenson handed Vernon Hills their first loss, winning the game, 50-43. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 8, 2013 9:45PM
VERNON HILLS — Just three miles separate Vernon Hills High School and Stevenson High School.
Tuesday night, the Patriots separated themselves from the Cougars.
Behind a strong defensive effort and clutch foul shooting, the Stevenson girls basketball team ended Vernon Hills’ perfect season, winning 50-43 in a North Suburban Conference crossover game.
“We came into this game thinking there was no way they should beat us,” sophomore guard Sophia Way said. “No one expected us to win but us.”
The pace of play favored the Patriots all four quarters. Despite shooting just 10-of-31 in the first half, Stevenson led 21-19 at the break.
With the score tied at 30 midway through the third quarter, Stevenson (11-7) made its game-changing run. Leading with defense, it held Vernon Hills (18-1) scoreless over a near seven-minute stretch. Repeatedly, senior Alex Elzinga and sophomore Taylor Buford denied entry passes into the post to Vernon Hills senior Meri Bennett-Swanson. After scoring 12 points though three quarters, the six-foot-two DePaul-bound Bennett-Swanson was held scoreless in the game’s final period.
“They are great posts, Lauren (Webb) and Meri,” Elzinga said. “We wanted to make sure they were not getting lobs over us. Everyone did a great job making sure we had help side.”
When Cougars junior guard Sydney Smith made a free throw to make it 40-31 with 4:25 left in the game, it stopped a 10-0 run by the Patriots. It was also Smith’s first point of the game (she finished with seven). A steal and layup by Smith cut the Stevenson lead to 43-39 with one minute remaining. But Way (10 points) hit all four of her free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds to seal the win for Stevenson.
“It’s a good loss to a good team that’s well-coached,” Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner said. “We chipped away a little bit but couldn’t get all the way back.”
Stevenson senior Kari Moffat led all scorers with 17 points. Junior Lauren Webb led Vernon Hills with 14 points.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Jan. 17 to read more about the Stevenson and Vernon Hills girls basketball teams.