If Stevenson sophomore Jalen Brunson calls it a dunk, well, it must have been a dunk.
In any case, it was about the only questionable play from Brunson in the Patriots' North Suburban Lake contest with Lake Forest on Friday night.
The play from Brunson helped Stevenson to a 12-point lead, and even though the "dunk," his third of the season, front-rimmed before eventually going down, it was a key 2 points for the Patriots.
"Yeah, that was a dunk," Patriots sophomore Connor Cashaw said with a smile. "It was a great play."
Whether it was a clean dunk or not, it was just one out of several spectacular plays for Brunson in the second half. He scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter and Stevenson never trailed in defeating the Scouts for the second time this season 59-50.
With its ninth straight win; Stevenson moves one step closer to clinching the NSC Lake outright. A loss by Zion at Mundelein on Saturday night coupled with a win at Lake Zurich for Stevenson (19-4, 8-2), will give the Patriots a share of the title and a spot in the conference title game.
"The only one that may give me stuff about that dunk might be my dad," Brunson said. "But he was one of the most unathletic players in the NBA, so that's OK."
The hosts opened the second quarter with an 11-2 burst keyed by the quick hands of senior Andy Stempel. He swiped 5 Lake Forest passes and turned 4 of them into run out plays for the Patriot offense. The burst helped Stevenson take a 31-22 advantage into halftime.
"(Stevenson) is a very quick an very skilled basketball team," said Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala. "You have to give them credit. When they needed a stop they would get it then turn it into points at the other end."
Every time Lake Forest (15-7, 4-6) made a run, it came from their big men up front in sophomore Evan Boudreaux and Yale-bound senior Sam Downey. Boudreaux brought the Scouts to within 37-31 with 2:47 left in the third with two of his team-best 19 points. Downey was equally effective in the fourth quarter, scoring 6 of his 16 in the period.
"The bigs that they have are tough in the middle and they are athletic and aggressive which makes them tough to defend," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "Lake Forest is super-well-coached and always well-prepared so we had to be mentally tough there at the end."
Each time Lake Forest made a run in the final quarter, Stevenson had an answer. Sometimes it was Brunson with a dunk; sometimes it was a long 3-pointer by Matt Morrissey with 3:44 left in the game that put the lead back to 10 at 51-41.
"We have a lot of really talented players on this team," Ambrose said. "Jalen came in at the end and played like he can play. He is mentally tough and is as tough as they come plus he is our point guard so it's a nice combination."
Cashaw chipped in with 13 for the Patriots, Morrissey added 10.