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Article updated: 3/7/2013 12:04 AM
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Veteran Stempel paces Stevenson
 

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Veteran Stempel paces Stevenson
  • Stevenson's Matt Morrissey gets high-fives from the bench during the Patriots' win over Mundelein in the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Stevenson's Matt Morrissey gets high-fives from the bench during the Patriots' win over Mundelein in the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Stevenson's Connor Cashaw gets high fives from the bench during the Patriots' win over Mundelein in the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Stevenson's Connor Cashaw gets high fives from the bench during the Patriots' win over Mundelein in the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Mundelein's Robert Knar drives to the hoop during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Mundelein's Robert Knar drives to the hoop during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Players from Stevenson and Mundelein scramble for a loose ball during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Players from Stevenson and Mundelein scramble for a loose ball during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Mundelein's Sean O'Brien, right, drives past Stevenson's Connor Cashaw during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Mundelein's Sean O'Brien, right, drives past Stevenson's Connor Cashaw during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Mundelein's Sean O'Brien raises his arms after getting called for a foul against Stevenson's Jalen Brunson during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Mundelein's Sean O'Brien raises his arms after getting called for a foul against Stevenson's Jalen Brunson during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Stevenson's Jalen Brunson, left, drives past Mundelein's Sean O'Brien during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night.

    Purchase Photo | Stevenson's Jalen Brunson, left, drives past Mundelein's Sean O'Brien during the Class 4A Waukegan sectional semifinals Wednesday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 

For the old guy, Andy Stempel does OK for himself.

Stempel is part of a four-guard lineup for Stevenson that also features two sophomores and a junior who are among the most dynamic young players in the area.

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The lone senior of the four, which also includes sophomores Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw and junior Matt Morrissey, Stempel is valued for his experience and savvy.

"When our young guys get down or when something goes wrong, I can kind of give them some advice since I've been around for a while and I've been through a lot," Stempel said. "Those guys are maybe more skilled or athletic than me, but I can help them with other parts of the game."

Don't mistake Stempel for a role player, though.

He is just as integral to the team as Stevenson's heralded and hyped young guns.

Just ask Mundelein. The Mustangs couldn't afford to take Stempel for granted on Wednesday night. He scored 18 points and hit three clutch 3-pointers to help Stevenson pull out a 78-68 victory over Mundelein in the semifinals of the Class 4A sectional at Waukegan's old-school East Campus gym.

Top-seeded Stevenson, which moves to 26-4, will face the winner of today's 7:30 p.m. semifinal at Waukegan between No. 2 Zion-Benton and No. 3 St. Viator.

Fifth-seeded Mundelein closes out the season with an 18-14 record.

"Andy is definitely our captain in a lot of ways," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "He talks on the floor, he puts players into place. He's settled and really solid. It goes a long way for us to have an experienced kid like him on the floor."

The young guys held up their end of the bargain, too.

Brunson scored a game-high 28 points and Cashaw added 18 points as Stevenson broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter by getting to the basket and drawing fouls.

The Patriots, who hit 12 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, were up by just two points at halftime (32-30) and were up by only 1 point (45-44) with 1:10 to play in the third. But in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, they began to pull away.

"We didn't play our best ball in the fourth quarter," said Mundelein senior guard Sean O'Brien, who scored a team-high 23 points to go along with 13 rebounds. "It came down to us just needing to take care of the ball better. We had some chances to convert and didn't and then they went on a run.

"This is really hard. I've been playing with most of these guys since fifth grade and with (senior guard) Robert (Knar) since fourth grade. I'm going to be lost without them."

Knar, who returned a few weeks ago after missing most of the season while rehabbing from ACL knee surgery, managed to hit a significant personal milestone. He entered the game 4 points shy of the 2,000 point mark for his career. His 7 points in the game caps his four-year total at 2,003.

Besides O'Brien, senior forward Chino Ebube also scored in double-figures for Mundelein. He had 16 points, including a thunderous dunk off the block that cut the Mustangs' deficit to 7 points early in the fourth quarter.

"When you get down against Stevenson, it's tough to come back on them because they hit their free throws, and when you try to double on them, they hit open shots," Mundelein coach Dick Knar said. "We just had a couple of bad possessions, a couple of bad choices, some turnovers and they capitalized on that at the other end.

"I just wish I had another month with these guys. We've had guys out this year, we're just getting Robert back, I'd really like to keep going with this team now. It feels like right now that we're unfinished."

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