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Zion-Benton downs Stevenson
By Bill Pemstein | Daily Herald Correspondent

Stevenson player Sophia Way drives the ball to the hoop in the second quarter at Stevenson on Thursday.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Stevenson forward Taylor Buford steals the ball away from Zion-Benton forward Keonnia Gentry in the first quarter at Stevenson on Thursday.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Stevenson center Alex Elzinga shoots over Zion-Benton forward Samantha Rodriguez at Stevenson on Thursday.


Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/29/2012 11:26 PM

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Here’s a major reason for the latest Stevenson defeat. It goes down as a Zee-Bee Three-Bee.

A Zee-Bee Three-Bee? That’s simply a rain of 3-point shots from the visiting Zion-Benton Zee Bees.

Winless Stevenson (0-4) was just 6 points down midway through the third quarter Thursday night in Lincolnshire. And then the 4-1 Zee-Bees turned it up and posted a decisive 67-47 NSC Lake Division victory.

Leading the way on this night was Zion junior Samantha Rodriguez. Her first five baskets of the game counted as 3-pointers; she led all scorers with 29 points.

“We are kind of a 3-point shooting team,’’ Rodriguez said. “But not quite like that. We had it going tonight.”

Stevenson coach Tom Dineen made it clear. His Patriots team had been warned about the long-distance shooting ability of Zion-Benton.

“That was No. 1 on our list,’’ Dineen said. “We did not defend the 3. We also didn’t handle the ball well and we turned the ball over far too often.”

In Stevenson’s defense, this game clearly didn’t get out of hand until the final quarter. Following 2 free throws from sophomore guard Sophia Way (10 points), the Pats were within a single point (25-24) with 46 seconds to play before halftime.

Rodriguez (7 3-pointers) led the visitors’ outside attack.

“Our coach (Tanya Johnson) likes the 3-point shot because it opens up the post more,’’ Rodriguez said. “This is a good feeling because I’ve never beaten Stevenson during the regular season.”

Rodriguez had some help in the second half in the 3-point shooting display. Teammate Kaitlyn Stabenow, held scoreless at the half, hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter. She finished with 10 points.

Zion’s strong inside game was effective, too. Six-foot-1 senior Syerra Cunningham had 11 points and sophomore Mia Yarbrough added 10 points.

“We didn’t have an answer for their inside game,’’ Dineen said.

The Pats trailed 45-36 heading to the fourth quarter but went cold from the outside, missing 8 straight shots. Only the solid free throw shooting of senior point guard Kari Moffat (17 points) kept the Pats alive. She hit 9 of 10 free throws and scored Stevenson’s first 5 points of the fourth quarter. That was over a six-minute period as the Zion lead pushed toward 20 points.

Senior Paige Freudenberg scored the first basket of the fourth quarter for Stevenson with just over a minute to play.

“We’ve lost to four very, very good teams,’’ Dineen said. “We were much more aggressive tonight. But we are still averaging giving up nearly 70 points a game.”

The Pats did get a strong inside game from senior Alex Elzinga (11 points, 11 rebounds). The aggressive play of Way was also a highlight.

“Sophia is also our No. 2 ballhandler,’’ Dineen said.

Early foul trouble slowed down promising sophomore Taylor Buford. She fouled out in the fourth quarter.

Dineen refused to pin this defeat on his team’s youth. Half the team’s 10 players are sophomores or freshman.

“We are still searching,’’ he said. “We missed some easy shots. And we shot ourselves in the foot.”