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It was only one game but St. Charles East basketball fans learned some things about their team Tuesday night.
For starters, 6-foot-4 guard Kendall Stephens is no longer a freshman trying to adjust to the varsity game.
The sophomore poured in a game-high 27 points, 14 coming in the third quarter, during the Saints' 76-61 loss to Proviso East (1-0) in the opening round of the 52nd annual Ron Johnson/St. Charles East Thanksgiving Tournament.
On the down side, however, the Saints had problems taking care of the basketball, as the Pirates turned more than half of those 19 turnovers (20 points) into easy baskets at the other end of the floor.
"We wrote two things on the board before the game," said Saints coach Brian Clodi. "The things that scared us to death was handling their pressure and rebounding. And those were the two things that didn't happen."
The teams traded baskets and turnovers (8 each) in the early going, as Johnny Hondlik's three-point play in the final seconds tied the game at 17-17 after one quarter.
St. Charles East hung tough throughout the majority of the contest but fell prey to a pair of patented Proviso East runs during the latter stages of both the second and third quarters.
After the Saints pulled to within 29-25 on a layup by Charlie Fisher (7 points, 4 assists) with 2:01 left in the second period, the Pirates tallied the last 6 points to up their halftime lead to 35-25.
Led by Keith Carter (16 points), Starlin Brown (16 points) and Trashaun Carroll (10 points, 13 rebounds), the Pirates began pulling away in the third quarter before Stephens caught fire.
Playing in front of a crowd that included Northwestern coach Bill Carmody, Stephens put on a human highlight reel with four 3-pointers in the third quarter.
His back-to-back 3-pointers helped the Saints whittle the deficit to 46-40 with 2:21 left in
"Kendall played well," said Clodi. "He's capable of that. That's what he looks like everyday. We don't have anyone who can guard him and they didn't have anybody who could guard him."
But once again the Pirates went on a late 7-0 spurt to extend their lead to 53-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
"That just killed us," said Clodi. "When you continue to cross (dribble) in front and you're not strong with the ball, we can't win a game.
"When they put on the pressure, we're fighting to make the next pass and it's hard to get into an offense."
Stephens, who canned five 3-pointers and shot 9-for-16 from the field, added 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
"It was a sigh of relief after the game knowing all of the hard work I put in has paid off," said Stephens, who stayed positive in defeat.
"The pressure Proviso put on definitely got to us but we got the first-game jitters out," he added.
Hondlik had 7 points and 11 rebounds while Dan Ditusa added 7 points for the Saints, who face St. Joseph (0-1) Wednesday night.