Flawless First Half, Tough Defense Down the Stretch Key Z-B Victory
Sweda, Tom, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Tom Sweda Daily Herald Correspondent
Zion-Benton performed at both ends Friday night - just not at the same time.
The Zee-Bees, the top seed in the Waukegan sectional, built a 14-point halftime lead on No. 8 Highland Park with a nearly perfect 16 minutes of offense in which they made 17 of 30 shots, scored on all but 6 first-half possessions and did not commit a turnover.
Then, when the offense disappeared in the second half and the Giants had cut their lead to 3, the Zee-Bees turned on their defense, limiting Highland Park to just 2 points over the last five minutes of the game to finish off a 62-50 victory for a regional championship.
Zion-Benton (28-1) advances to the sectional semifinals against Mundelein at Waukegan on Tuesday. Highland Park ends the year 15-12.
"In the first half, we moved the ball better on offense and got it inside a little more," said Zee-Bees coach Don Kloth. "In the second half, we didn't have the ball movement or patience to do that again. Give Highland Park credit for its defense against that.
"But the most positive thing was that when the game got tight, we had some good defensive possessions, did a good job getting the rebounds, and made our free throws."
Highland Park, down 39-25 at halftime despite a 20-point first half outburst by guard Seth Harris, got hot in the third, outscoring Zion-Benton 18-12 in the period, including 8 to 3 over the last 3:30 to close the gap to 8 points heading into the fourth. …