The list of responsibilities facing Stevenson junior Matt Morrissey before the Patriots' biggest game of the season was pretty lengthy.
But not even a few cuts and bruises as well as a few scrapes to his right arm could slow down Morrissey or his Stevenson teammates during the championship game of the Class 4A Waukegan sectional against third-seeded St. Viator on Friday night.
Morrissey's long list usually includes rebounding and playing defense against the other team's best scorer, along with hitting the occasional layup or 3-pointer. Morrissey did all that and a little more on Friday.
He finished with 12 points and hauled in 7 rebounds, but more importantly he limited Lions leading scorer Ore Arogundade, holding the junior standout to 13 points.
Morrissey's effort at both ends of the floor combined with a game-best 24 points from sophomore Jalen Brunson lifted Stevenson to a 77-58 win over St. Viator.
Stevenson (27-4) earned the third sectional crown in school history and first since 2007. The Patriots advance to meet DeKalb sectional champion Rockford Boylan (22-8) in the Northern Illinois supersectional at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
St. Viator closed out its season at 21-9.
"It's always one of my tasks to guard the other team's best player and (Ore Arogundade) is a great player," Morrissey said. "Every game we play, though, it's about defense and rebounding and that is what coach (Pat Ambrose) preaches every time."
Another element to the game that helped Stevenson was a quick start. The Patriots rolled out to a 19-10 lead after one quarter and built the bulge to as many as 13 in the first quarter.
"I just knew coming in that we couldn't dig ourselves a hole," said St. Viator coach Mike Howland. "(Stevenson) is a real good team. Brunson was tough early and they started making shots. We just weren't the team early that we usually are and we dug ourselves a hole."
St. Viator made a run early in the third quarter, getting within 39-31 on a bucket by Mayo Arogundade with 6:33 left in the third quarter. But a key sequence of events saw the game start to unravel for the Lions.
Senior Kevin Hammarlund, one of three Lions in double figures with 11 points, attempted a long 3-pointer that rimmed out into the hands of Morrissey. A long downcourt pass from Morrissey to Brunson resulted in a 3-point play and a double-figure cushion for Stevenson.
"We really count on our defense and our rebounding," Ambrose said. "It doesn't do us much good to give the other team a second and third shot -- our kids are really good, and they played well tonight."
As tough as the Patriots were on the defensive end (they held St. Viator to 25 percent shooting from the field), they were just as tough on offense. A balanced scoring attack from Brunson and his backcourt partner Connor Cashaw (14 points) made it tough for the Lions to battle back.
Stevenson senior Andy Stempel continued his hot shooting with 15 points, and sophomore Cameron Green chipped in with 10.
"I just don't think we came out and matched their intensity," said senior Mayo Arogundade, who led the Lions with 15 points. "Stevenson is a great team and this is really hard, but we just couldn't get over the hump tonight."
And in the middle of it all was Morrissey.
"He was really big for us tonight," Brunson said of Morrissey. "Ore was struggling, and Matt really forced him into a lot of tough shots."
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