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Sitting five rows behind Libertyville's scorers table, Villanova men's basketball coach Jay Wright suddenly saw a ball bouncing high and fast in his direction.
Just before the ball landed out of bounds, Stevenson guard Connor Cashaw swooped in and grabbed it in midair, as Patriots coach Pat Ambrose yelled for a timeout.
Too late for Ambrose.
Cashaw, who was chasing a rebound that kept caroming off players, made a Division I-caliber play. He flipped the ball behind his head to a streaking Jalen Brunson, who shielded a Libertyville defender and finished a layup.
"It was a great athletic play (by Cashaw)," Brunson said. "I don't think the Libertyville guy saw me coming from behind. I just snatched it, and I just concentrated on getting the layup."
Wright -- along with Xavier coach Chris Mack -- may have been in attendance to watch Brunson. But every coach and fan in the packed gym saw ample big-time plays. Brunson's 29 points (four 3-pointers) led all scorers, as Stevenson blew out Libertyville 77-48 in a North Suburban Lake Division showdown between undefeated teams Wednesday night.
"It was like tip, tip, tip, tip," Ambrose said of the dazzling assist by Cashaw, who's also drawing D-I interest. "If we can get out and run, we can go. Connor made a heck of a play."
Stevenson (7-0, 2-0) made a lot of great plays against Libertyville (5-1, 1-1). Matthew Johnson added 16 points, Cashaw finished with 14, and Matt Morrissey chipped in a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, showing that his hamstring injury from late in the football season has indeed healed.
Defensively, the Patriots frustrated Wildcats 6-foot-10 junior center Joe Borcia, who came in averaging nearly 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. Borcia finished with 5 points and 8 boards, fouling out after picking up his second technical with 5:08 left in the fourth. The 2 technical fouls means Borcia will have to sit out Saturday night's game at Lake Forest.
"(Stevenson) really just got into Joe Borcia," Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. "We (run) everything on our offensive end off him. They took charges on him, and he's got some really good post moves. They stepped across and they got the calls. We didn't adjust. We needed to do more facing up."
One of those plays came late in the first half, when Johnson drove hard and drew the foul on Borcia, whose nose got bloodied by Johnson's left elbow. Johnson completed the three-point play, stretching the Patriots' lead to 35-25 with 2:11 on the clock.
Johnson's night also included hitting two 3-pointers and grabbing 6 rebounds. The junior guard has continued to play well in his second varsity season with Stevenson, after transferring from Batavia.
"He gives us another ballhandler and an additional kid that can shoot a little bit," Ambrose said. "He's a hard-nosed kid that wants to play defense. He fits right in with our kids."
"He gives us a defensive tenacity on the ball," said Brunson, who counts 17 D-I offers, the last of which was by Michigan State in the fall. "Also, he's just a great talker. He's strong. I think having him on our team just gives us a boost at the guard position."
With nearly three minutes gone in the game, Libertyville held an 8-7 lead, before five Stevenson 3s, including a pair by both Brunson and Morrissey, helped the Patriots close the quarter with a 21-6 run. Matt Reed's fourth 3-pointer had the Wildcats within 40-31 by halftime.
Stevenson's lead was 60-43 after three quarters.
"We were building off the energy and the crowd (early on)," said Reed, who scored all of his team-high 12 points in the first half. "The crowd was amazing. Both teams were fighting hard. We just lost our composure a little bit in the second half, and things snowballed from there. But we're a tough team. We're going to bounce right back from this. We just got to stay together."