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Class 4A supersectional scouting: Stevenson (27-4) vs. Rockford Boylan (22-8)
What: Northern Illinois Class 4A supersectional
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Where: NIU Convocation Center
Cost: All tickets are $10. Parking is $5.
Stevenson's road to the super: Defeated Grayslake North (74-67) and Waukegan (76-49) in the Prospect regional; defeated Mundelein (78-68) and St. Viator (77-58) in the Waukegan sectional.
Rockford Boylan's road to the super: Defeated Rockford Auburn (52-35) and Rockton Hononegah (56-44) in the Rockton Hononegah regional; defeated Crystal Lake Central (60-49) and Rockford Jefferson (58-41) in the DeKalb sectional.
Last big meeting: In 2007, Stevenson and Rockford Boylan advanced downstate as part of the eight teams involved in the final Class AA state championship. Stevenson defeated Rockford Boylan in the quarterfinals, 57-41, thanks to 17 points from Jong Lee, 13 points from Dylan Richter and 12 points from Kevin Stineman. The Patriots went on to lose to O'Fallon in the semifinals (65-51) and to Marshall in the third place game (57-52).
Stevenson tournament history: Stevenson finished the 2011-12 season with a 17-10 record and was eliminated in the regional championship game by Warren, 57-47. Overall, Stevenson has made two trips downstate (1991 and 2007). In 2007, the Patriots finished fourth in Class AA.
Rockford Boylan tournament history: Rockford Boylan finished the 2011-12 season with a 16-11 record and was eliminated in the regional championship game by Rockton Hononegah, 49-48. Overall, Rockford Boylan has made eight trips downstate, with the most recent one coming in 2007. The Titans' best finish was fourth in 1992, 1994 and 1997.
Stevenson coach: Pat Ambrose, 14th season.
Rockford Boylan coach: Mike Winters, 2nd season.
Stevenson starters: G Jalen Brunson (6-foot-2, soph., 21.9 ppg), G Connor Cashaw (6-3, soph., 16 ppg), G Andrew Stempel (6-3, sr., 11.2 ppg), F Matt Morrissey (6-3, jr., 8.1 ppg), F John Duffy (6-3, sr., 1.4 ppg).
Rockford Boylan starters: G Brock Stull (6-foot-3, jr., 15.9 ppg), C Ben Grygiel (6-6, sr., 12.7 ppg), G Demarcus Vines (5-9, sr., 7.6 ppg), G Drew Gaurke (6-0, sr., 6 ppg), F Jim Bridges (6-4, sr., 5.2 ppg).
Skinny on Stevenson: Once again, the big issue for Stevenson is the size of the opposition. The guard-heavy Patriots are staring at another size disadvantage heading into the supersectional against Rockford Boylan. But somehow, they've almost always been able to compensate for that. "I don't know, we just try to work harder, do the little things to negate the size advantage of the other team," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "We've faced some big teams this year. Mundelein is bigger than us, so is Lake Forest. We just try to make a conscious effort to guard well, to get to the right spots and to rebound. With some heart and desire, we can hold our own."… Stevenson has more than held its own in the state tournament. The Patriots have won their last three games by an average of 15 points. "I think we're playing pretty well right now," Ambrose said. "It's always a good sign when you're getting double-digit wins in the tournament. We're a very calm team and very business-like. We're excited, but not giddy like a bunch of schoolgirls. We are focused. We know we have a job to do."…Ambrose likes the fact that his team has been balanced all season, particularly in the tournament. Brunson scored a team-high 28 points in the sectional semifinal against Mundelein but the Patriots also got 18 points apiece from fellow guards Andy Stempel and Connor Cashaw. Against St. Viator in the sectional title game, Brunson scored 24 points but was buoyed by double-figures from three other players. Stempel had 15 points while forwards Matt Morrissey and Cameron Green chipped in with 12 and 10 points respectively. "Jalen is a very good player but we can't rely on just Jalen," Ambrose said. "Everyone has to play well for us to win." … The sharp-shooting Patriots love the 3-pointer and have hit 181 shots from long range this season. Brunson leads the way with 57 3-pointers while Stempel has hit 51 shots from 3-point range.
Skinny on Rockford Boylan: The jury is still out on Rockford Boylan. Sure, it's the end of the season and the Titans are in the supersectional, but there's no telling just how well they might continue to play under the bright lights of the state tournament. Rockford Boylan hasn't been operating under its current setup for all that long, and is just starting to hit its stride. About halfway into the season, the Titans lost three starters (Ben Grygiel, Drew Gaurke and Frank Cimino, who is now the sixth man) all at the same time. They missed approximately six weeks apiece and 36 games between them. The Titans suffered six of their eight losses during the absence of Grygiel, Gaurke and Cimino, which is part of the reason they ended up with just a third seed in a five-team regional. "We got nailed at the seeding meeting because we had just lost to the teams that ended up getting the two seeds in front of us," Rockford Boylan coach Mike Winters said. "We're a different team now and we're getting better every day. I kind of feel like I'm still not sure how good we can be just because we haven't played many games together at full strength. One thing I do know is that we have a lot of confidence after everything we've dealt with. Nothing seems to faze our guys."…Gaurke, who broke his wrist over Thanksgiving and was forced to have plates and screws inserted during surgery, has recovered and came up big in the sectional title game against Rockford Jefferson. He scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Cimino, who broke his jaw and had to live with it being wired shut for six weeks, is now coming off the bench for the Titans. He averages about 8 points and is a threat from 3-point range…Rockford Boylan has a size advantage on Stevenson but can also run and hit bunches of three-pointers. Brock Stull has hit a team-leading 63 3-pointers on the season. "We like to get up and down the floor and make a living on defensive pressure," Winters said. "We were averaging 82 points per game before we started losing players." The Titans are 9-2 since their roster has been restored to full strength.
Key matchup: Rockford Boylan football star Demarcus Vines will try to use his strength and tailback speed to slow Stevenson star guard Jalen Brunson, who averaged 26 points in Stevenson's two sectional wins at Waukegan. "Demarcus is by far the quickest kid I've ever coached," Rockford Boylan coach Mike Winters said. "Brunson is certainly one of the most skilled kids we've gone against all season. That's why we'll put Demarcus on him. He can be a nightmare defensively for opposing players."
Winner gets: A trip to the Class 4A state semifinals in Peoria to take on the winner of the Illinois State supersectional, either Marian Catholic or Edwardsville. Tip-off at the Peoria Civic Center will be at 8:15 p.m. on Friday.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw