A total team effort from Stevensons girls basketball team added up to another 20-win season and a second straight regional championship.
Sophomore Taylor Buford led the Patriots with a career-best 22 points and 11 rebounds as No. 5 seed Stevenson upended No. 4 Palatine 47-35 in a Class 4A regional final Thursday at Wheeling.
And Stevenson got the job done without a key player.
We were missing our all-area guard (Sophia Way), said Stevenson coach Tom Dineen, whos produced four straight 20-win seasons with the Patriots. Other kids stepped up big-time, in a big way.
Dineen said Way has, some lingering concussion issues. Its been an ongoing process.
Stevenson (20-8) next plays No. 1 seed Rolling Meadows (26-3) at 6 p.m. Monday in a Libertyville sectional semifinal. Rolling Meadows defeated Hersey 53-37 for the Mundelein regional championship Thursday.
The Patriots let their defense dictate problems for Palatine. Stifling work from Kari Moffat, Paige Fruedenberg, Jessica Burke and Haley Green forced the Pirates into numerous turnovers.
We put something in differently (Wednesday) and they executed it in this game, Dineen said. Everything revolved around their guard (Nia Pappas). We wanted her to give it up, and we provided a lot of help.
In the final four minutes of the third quarter, Buford hit an 8-foot jump shot that started a 6-0 run. Stevenson led 31-23 going into the final quarter.
Bufords hot shooting continued into the fourth quarter as she scored 10 more points and helped Stevenson expand the lead to double digits.
We knew with Sophia not playing that we needed to do something different, said Buford, who also had 14 points in a regional semifinal win against Conant. I knew I needed to step up and the whole team needed to step up, too.
I just felt it and I knew that something needed to be done. The whole team just wanted to win this so badly.
Alex Elzinga had 11 points and 4 rebounds and Fruedenberg chipped in 8 points for the Patriots.
Palatine (20-10) rallied back from an 11-point deficit early in second quarter. Samantha Heuertz (4 points) hit a short jumper in the final minute and the Pirates trailed 21-18 at the half.
Palatine trailed only 25-23 midway through the third quarter after Pappas (8 points) made 1 of 2 free throws. But the Pirates couldnt get any closer the rest of the way.
(Stevenson) played hard-nosed defense, the same way we do, and was a very tough team, Palatine coach Leslie Schock said. They played without one of their best players out hurt, but they had other players step up. All the credit to them.
We did have some good looks in the second half, but we couldnt buy a basket. I felt like we were in it. The offensive lull just never went away.
Morgan Radtke led the way for the Pirates with 12 points and Erin Mayer added 7.