One big thing that Stevenson didn't want to happen in its semifinal contest with Morgan Park in the 52nd annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament on Saturday night was to let the Mustangs get going and get going early.
The Patriots' worst fears were realized.
Morgan Park used a 21-0 run Friday night to secure its quarterfinal win over Bogan, and the Mustangs used a similar spurt to pull ahead early against Stevenson. A 20-6 deficit after the opening quarter proved to be too much for Stevenson to overcome as the Patriots never got the margin below 9 points.
The Mustangs cruised from there, rolling to an impressive 67-52 win over the Patriots.
Morgan Park will face defending tournament champion Proviso East in the championship game at p.m. Monday while Stevenson, playing in its first Proviso West tournament, will face Oswego in the third-place game at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
"(Morgan Park) is a very good team," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "They can shoot and play defense, and when they got up on us like they did they were not going to give it back."
Morgan Park (13-1) also made it a point to harass the Patriots' two top scorers in Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw. While Brunson led all scorers with 17 and Cashaw chipped in with 15, the Mustangs made them work for everything they got.
"Every game we come into we try and take out the best player," said Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin. "We knew we couldn't necessarily stop them, but we kept throwing different players at them. Brunson is a good player but we have the best defender in the state in Kyle Davis, so I wasn't too worried."
Stevenson (10-3) was able to cut into the Mustangs' margin in the second quarter, getting as close as 28-19, but a burst at the end of the quarter from Josh Cunningham (11 points) and Lamont Walker (10 points) moved the lead back to double figures before half at 37-24.
"Morgan Park is a great team -- well-coached and hard to play against," Brunson said. "They kind of got after us and it got away from us too fast."
The deficit got tougher for the Patriots after halftime. An 8-2 run highlighted but a long 3-pointer from DePaul-bound senior Billy Garrett Jr. and a pair of steals and assists from the Dayton-bound Davis built the margin to 45-28 midway through the third quarter. No Mustangs player had more than 11 points, but nine scored.
"That's one thing we stress is sharing the ball and playing good defense," Irvin said. "We have a lot of talent so anyone can score 30, but we like to pass it around and make sure everyone gets their shots."
Stevenson rallied late with buckets by Cashaw and a pair of runners from senior Adam Cohen, who finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds. Kain Harris was the only other player to hit double figures with 10 for Morgan Park.