2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 11/27/2013 12:09 AM

Stevenson tops Elgin as Izzo scouts Brunson

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By Howard Schlossberg
Daily Herald Correspondent

Stevenson is going to have its hands full this season.

And that's just with staying focused.

The Class 4A state basketball runners-up have a highly recruited guard, junior Jalen Brunson, and a team full of talent, depth, height and athleticism.

Elgin respects that, but wasn't intimidated by it and gave the Patriots all they wanted Tuesday night in a second-round Bison Classic game at Buffalo Grove. Stevenson ended up hanging on 51-41.

While Brunson asserted himself when it counted, making a slick pass to Ryan Rosenbaum for a layup, getting 2 free throws off a turnover and then a bucket off a steal on consecutive possessions as part of a 9-point run in the second half, Elgin refused to go away.

Fourth-quarter baskets by Ryan Sitter, Lavion Baldwin and a 3 by Desmond Sanders had Patriots coach Pat Ambrose calling a timeout to remind his team to finish the game and remember to play defense.

"Coach was a getting a little mad," Brunson shrugged afterward.

"We've done some nice things," said Ambrose, "but we have a ways to go."

Some of that will be alleviated when injured and late-arriving football players are ready to go. For now, Brunson is helping everyone else look better while being looked at. Michigan State's Tom Izzo was there to pay his respects and reassert his scholarship offer.

"He realizes he's on a stage," Ambrose said of Brunson, who seems to take it remarkably well. "He definitely does."

He definitely did Tuesday night. Brunson didn't force shots en route to a 20-point game. He had neat assists to Justin Smith and Rosenbaum and helped force 18 Elgin turnovers, which, contrasted to Stevenson's 6, was pretty much the difference in the game.

Brunson got plenty of help. Conner Cashaw (13 points) was a force around the basket. Matthew Johnson (10, off the bench), ran things nicely when Brunson sat with fouls and complemented him nicely when they were both on the floor.

Still, Elgin (0-2) never went away. Desmond Sanders' long-range bombing and Ryan Sitter's floor game kept Elgin hanging around. They both finished with 9. Lavion Baldwin (10 points) didn't heat up till late, as Stevenson did a nice job on the sophomore sharpshooter through three quarters.

"If we improve from game two to game three (Friday versus Grayslake Central) like we did from game one to game two, we'll be all right," said Elgin coach Mike Sitter.

"We've got to play better on defense," said Brunson. "We struggled on the defensive end lots in this game."

"Decision-making," said Ambrose of what his team can do better, at both ends.

They'll try to get back to doing that Wednesday against Christian Liberty.

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