Stevenson Patriots (28-4) vs. Edwardsville Tigers (30-2)
What: Class 4A IHSA state semifinal
When: 8:15 p.m., Friday
Where: Peoria Civic Center
Cost: Tickets are $10.50 for the lower bowl and $8.50 for the upper bowl.
Stevenson's road to the state semifinals: 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; defeated Rockford Boylan (73-67) in the Northern Illinois University supersectional.
Edwardsville's road to the state semifinals: Defeated Granite City (40-25) and Alton (55-40) in the Granite City regional; defeated O'Fallon (59-38) and Rock Island (71-45) in the Pekin sectional; defeated Marian Catholic (68-49) in the Illinois State University supersectional.
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 other trips downstate (1991 and 2007). In 2007, the Patriots finished fourth in Class AA.
Edwardsville tournament history: Edwardsville finished the 2011-12 season with a 24-6 record and was eliminated in the supersectional by Bloom, 53-41. Overall, Edwardsville has made seven other trips to the state finals, with the most recent one coming in 2006. The Tigers' best finish was second place in 1956.
Stevenson coach: Pat Ambrose, 14th season.
Edwardsville coach: Mike Waldo, 25th season
Stevenson starters: G Jalen Brunson (6-foot-2, soph., 21.8 ppg), G Connor Cashaw (6-3, soph., 16.2 ppg), G Andrew Stempel (6-3, sr., 11.4 ppg), F Matt Morrissey (6-3, jr., 8 ppg), F John Duffy (6-3, sr., 1.3 ppg).
Edwardsville starters: G Garret Covington (6-foot-5, sr., 18.9 ppg), G Tre' Harris (6-5, sr., 17.1 ppg), F Armon Fletcher (6-5, jr., 10.2 ppg), G Shawn Roundtree (6-0, jr., 9.9 ppg), F Drew Curtis (6-5, sr., 6.4 ppg).
Skinny on Stevenson: If nerves are an issue for Stevenson's young players under the bright lights of the state finals, they can look to the bench. There should be a sense of calm there. All of the coaches have been to the Civic Center before. Head coach Pat Ambrose and assistant Paul Swan guided the 2007 team to a fourth-place finish while assistants John Taylor and Kevin Stineman actually comprised the starting backcourt. "It's so unbelievable to be going downstate again," said Stineman, a junior on the 2007 team. "At the beginning of the year, I had no idea we'd be doing this, which kind of reminds me of the 2007 team. No one in Lake County thought we'd be going downstate that year. But you play tough defense and listen to Coach Ambrose and good things are going to happen."…Good things also happen when the 3-point loving Patriots are able to get good looks from the perimeter. This team is full of sharp-shooters who can get hot in a hurry. Stevenson hit 10-of-20 3-pointers in the supersectional and has rolled up nearly 200 3-pointers on the season. Andrew Stempel (18 points) drained four 3-pointers against Rockford Boylan while Connor Cashaw (team-high 22 points) had three 3-pointers and Jalen Brunson (18 points) added two 3-pointers…The Patriots are riding an 18-game winning streak. They have not lost in 2013. The last team to beat Stevenson was Oswego on Dec. 31 (72-66) in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
Skinny on Edwardsville: There's a long and rich basketball tradition at Edwardsville, personified on the current squad by senior guard Tre' Harris and his sophomore brother Jordan. They're part of a family that includes three generations of basketball players for Edwardsville. Grandpa Bob and his brothers Billy and Jonny played in the 1960s while dad Rob played in the 1980s and uncle Jon played in the 1990s. Interestingly, the youngest Harris players are the first in the family to advance an Edwardsville team to the state semifinals. The last time the Tigers got this far was way back in 1956…Tre' Harris is one of two Division I caliber players for the Tigers. He's still mulling his options for next season while fellow backcourt mate Garret Covington has signed with Western Illinois. Covington popped for 25 points on Tuesday in the supersectional against Marian Catholic. He hit 8-of-12 shots and 4-of-6 3-pointers…Edwardsville has won 13 games in a row and has been dominant in the state tournament. The Tigers have won their five postseason games by an average of 19.2 points per game…Edwardsville needs one win to break its school record for wins, which was set by the 2005-06 team that went 30-1 and lost in the state quarterfinals to Chicago Marshall.
Winner gets: A berth in Saturday's Class 4A state championship game against the winner of the other semifinal between three-time defending state champion Simeon and Proviso East, last year's state runner-up. Tip-off for the championship is 8:15 p.m. The loser of this game will play in Saturday's third-place game, which tips at 6:30 p.m.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw