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If anyone heard a thud at the Proviso West boys basketball holiday tournament, it could have been the Stevenson playbook landing in a heap over in the corner.
"Who needs a playbook?" the Patriots might ask.
"Our guys want to get up and down and play loose and free. They don't want to run a lot of my stupid plays," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said with a laugh. "They'd love it if we just chucked the playbook away."
The Patriots sure didn't need many set plays to score points Monday against St. Joseph.
Easy layups in transition more than got the job done.
Stevenson ran away with an 85-71 victory over the Chargers to advance into the championship game of Proviso's 36-team tournament, billed as America's largest high school basketball holiday tournament. The Patriots, who improve to 12-0, will face Morgan Park at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Morgan Park defeated Bogan (61-47) in Monday's other semifinal.
"It was an up-and-down affair (against St. Joseph) and our guys got up and down really well. We'd get them to take a quick shot and then we'd get some run-outs going," Ambrose said. "We were able to finish with a lot of easy baskets on fast breaks."
The Patriots, who dealt St. Joseph (11-1) its first loss, got a game-high 32 points out of guard Jalen Brunson and 30 points out of guard Connor Cashaw. The two were efficient from the field and helped Stevenson finish with a 50 percent shooting clip. Brunson drained 10-of-19 shots while Cashaw connected on 6-of-11 shots.
"Those two played really well," Ambrose said of Brunson and Cashaw. "You had four highly ranked juniors in that game in Jalen and Connor and Jordan Ash (17 points) and Glynn Watson (20 points) from St. Joe. You got a sense that there was a little bit of (one-upsmanship) between all those guys, but I don't think they were really looking for it all that much. They were all trying to do good things for their teams and I think Jalen and Connor made some really wise decisions for our team and did a good job of making plays."
Early on, the game was nip-and-tuck and was tied at 12-12 when Stevenson made a move. The Patriots went on a 13-6 run to take a 7-point lead into the second quarter. In the third quarter, Stevenson ripped off an 18-2 run and went up by as many as 21 points. St. Joseph got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
"It was a really good game and we didn't get all the stops we wanted to, but we got enough of them when we needed them," Ambrose said. "This is a very prestigious tournament with a lot of good teams and we're really happy that we get the chance to be in the championship game."
St. Joseph also got double-figures from Joffery Brown (16 points) and Nick Rakocevic (14 point). Brunson and Cashaw were Stevenson's only double-figure scorers. Matt Morrissey added 4 points, 5 rebounds and some tough defense.