Tough defense leads Stevenson to another regional crown
Wheeling Thursday, 2/14/13 Palatine's Erin Mayer (25, Left) and Monica Masini (44) and Stevenson's Taylor Buford (24) and Paige Freudenberg (20, Right), all dive after a loose ball during the first quarter of Thursday's Regional championship game at Wheeling High School. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: 01100896A
WHEELING — Winning regional championships is now a habit for the Stevenson girls basketball team.
The Patriots advanced into the sectional round for the third year in a row, defeating Palatine in the Class 4A Wheeling Regional final 47-35 Thursday night.
It was a plodding, methodical win for Stevenson (20-8), which never trailed. Coach Tom Dineen was forced to juggle his lineup before the game when leading scorer Sophia Way was ruled out with concussion symptoms. Inserting freshman guard Jessica Burke into the starting lineup, the Patriots played a ferocious man-to-man defense, holding the Pirates to just seven points in the first quarter.
The quarter foreshadowed Palatine’s struggles all night as it shot just 13-of-41 from the field. Star guard Nia Pappas was held to just two field goals and eight points.
“That was our whole goal at shoot arounds, practices. It revolved around (stopping) her,” senior guard Paige Freudenberg said about Pappas. “Our defense was attach to the hip. We really closed her out.”
Offensively, sophomore Taylor Buford sparked Stevenson. The forward scored a game-high 21 points to go with 11 rebounds. After Palatine got as close as 21-18 at the break, Buford capped a 14-7 Stevenson second-half run with a jumper in the lane.
It got the lead back to 10 points, 35-25, with six minutes remaining in the game. The Pirates never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
“We were missing (Sophia) and I knew I had to be active,” Buford said. “We are a team together. We build off each other.”
Senior Alex Elzinga added 11 points for the Patriots.
Palatine (20-10) got 12 points from junior guard Morgan Radtke.
“It seems like at points we were there and at points we weren’t,” Palatine sophomore Monica Masini said. “We tried our hardest.”
Stevenson will play either Rolling Meadows or Hersey on Monday night in the Libertyville Sectional semifinal game.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Feb. 21 to read more about the Stevenson girls basketball team.
Stevenson 47, Palatine 35
Kari Moffat 3, Jessica Burke 1, Paige Freudenberg 6, Taylor Buford 21, Alex Elzinga 11, Jackie Green 0, Haley Green 0.
Morgan Radtke 12, Samantha Heuertz 2, Nia Pappas 8, Erin Mayer 4, Monica Masini 7, Bridget Ryan 0.
Stevenson 16-5-10-14 — 47
Palatine 7-11-5-12 — 35
3-point goals — Stevenson (Moffat), Palatine (Radtke 2, Pappas).
Fouled out — Stevenson (none), Palatine (none). Team fouls — Stevenson 7, Palatine 11.