Among the many things that Conner Cashaw is thankful for today is the fact that his older brother was there last year to show him the varsity ropes.
Cashaw is a 6-foot-3 do-everything utility player for the Stevenson boys basketball team and will likely play every position on the floor this season, from point guard to center.
Just a sophomore, he seemed more like a seasoned veteran Wednesday in scoring a team-high 12 points in a breezy 61-24 victory over Christian Liberty in the third round of the Buffalo Grove Thanksgiving tournament. The victory moves Stevenson to 3-0.
A freshman on the varsity last year, Cashaw says that the growing pains that most rookies experience seemed to hurt less for him since he had someone in his corner from Day One. Big brother Colby, now a freshman at Missouri, was a senior starter on last year's team, and was playing his third year of varsity ball.
"My brother always helped me out," said Cashaw, who came off the bench last season. "He showed me the right steps on the court and off the court."
Now, even though he's still young by varsity standards, Cashaw feels so much better equipped to take a big step up in responsibility. He expects his role to be much more vital this season.
"Having Colby on the team last year really helped Connor because it calmed him down and made him understand what was coming next and what was behind the next door. Colby showed Connor what to expect," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "Now, you kind of feel like Connor should be pretty seasoned because of that. I just talked to him about that today, and he was like, 'No problem, Coach.'
"We expect Connor to be a high-level player for us this year, and he's off to a nice start."
Cashaw opened the season with 18 points in a win over Grayslake Central on Monday at Buffalo Grove. He didn't roll up quite as many points against Christian Liberty, but it wasn't necessary.
The Patriots got a big lead, spread the wealth among multiple players and then sent the starters to the bench to find some quality time for every reserve.
Stevenson was up 40-14 at halftime and then limited Christian Liberty to just one basket in the third quarter. And that basket wasn't scored until the final 30 seconds.
The Patriots, who unleashed a suffocating defense from the tip-off, and had their way on the boards, were up 55-16 at the start of the fourth quarter. On the game, Stevenson forced 32 Christian Liberty turnovers and had a 33-22 rebounding advantage.
"Overall, the team played excellent," Cashaw said. "We had good execution, the defense really stepped up and the bench was very enthusiastic. We got everyone involved."
All 13 players who entered the game for Stevenson scored. Matt Morrissey and Riley House followed Cashaw in scoring with 8 points apiece while Adam Cohen added 7 points.
Standout sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson was on the bench in street clothes as a precautionary measure. He hit the floor hard in Stevenson's win over Elgin on Tuesday.
"There was a collision late in the game so we just thought it was best to keep him out today," Ambrose said of Brunson. "He doesn't exhibit any concussion symptoms. But this was just for safety."
Christian Liberty was led by Wesley Swiderek. He had 14 points, including 2 three-pointers.