By the time Stevenson's talented sophomore duo of Connor Cashaw and Jalen Brunson finally get to a live game, the battle they face is hardly as epic as the ones they face in practice each day.
It seems that when the Patriot players match up to guard one another, Cashaw and Brunson always match up with one another.
"They go at it every day in practice," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "Jalen makes Connor better and Connor makes Jalen better."
They both make Stevenson better, especially Thursday in the second round of the 52nd Annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament against St. Charles East.
Brunson and Cashaw both tallied 16 points to tie for game-high honors in leading the Patriots to a 58-49 win over the Saints.
Stevenson (9-2), a first-time participant in this tournament, advances to the quarterfinals to face Maine South at 7 p.m. St. Charles East (8-3), which lost Purdue-bound senior Kendall Stephens to a right shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, moves into the consolation bracket and will face Glenbard East at 6 p.m.
"We knew what we were dealing with when the season started and we have been happy to have him so far," said St. Charles coach Pat Woods. "He got hurt there in the fourth quarter and wasn't able to come back so we will keep our fingers crossed."
At the time Stephens was injured, the Saints were within a point of the Patriots. A long 3-pointer by Brunson moved the lead to 39-35 and started a 10-2 run for Stevenson that broke the game open. The Saints scored just one bucket over the next four minutes.
"(St. Charles) shot over 50 percent in the first half but finished shooting just 36 percent, so our defense did a better job locking down in the second half," Ambrose said.
While the defense for the Patriots was holding the off Saints, the offense finally got on track. Brunson engineered the offense through senior Adam Cohen, and Cohen benefitted with 9 of his 11 points coming in the second half including a pair of short layups in the fourth quarter to help Stevenson pull away.
"Credit to (Stevenson)," Woods said. "Brunson is a heck of a player, as is Cashaw, and they did a great job of breaking through the press and finding the open man."
East wouldn't go away quietly even with the injury to Stephens. Junior guard Dom Adduci kept the Saints close with 16 points to tie for game-high honors.
Junior forward AJ Washington was a force inside for East as well with 14 points and 7 boards, while Stephens finished with 10.