At Stevenson, they can talk all day long about what makes senior Matt Morrissey such a splendid defensive player. After all, he's a football player first, and that's why he'll play that sport at Michigan State next year.
But on Wednesday night at home, the defensive whiz morphed into a dazzling 3-point shooter. He led his Patriots (22-1) with five 3-pointers as the Pats breezed to another NSC Lake Division victory, this one 75-52 over Lake Zurich.
If there was any disappointment on the Stevenson side, it was that the Pats as a whole finished one 3-pointer short of a tying a school record after finishing with 10 3's.
Now we will get a quick lesson on what makes Morrissey such a talented
"He guards the best of the best,'' said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "He guarded all those good players at Proviso. He can do it all. I think he plays the ball in the air better than anyone."
Yes, just like a talented defensive back might do.
"We have three great guards,'' Morrissey said. "And they set screens and free shots up for you."
Morrissey led a balanced Stevenson attack with 19 points. He sat and watched the entire fourth quarter on the bench. His 3-point show closed the third quarter as he hit three 3-pointers in the last three minutes of the period. When the last one landed, his Pats were up by 30 points at 66-36.
"I haven't done anything like this year,'' Morrissey said. "I had a couple games like this last year. I'm starting to feel it again."
On back-to-back hook shots from Lake Zurich center, Will McClaughry, the visiting Bears (15-12) trailed just 14-10 late in the first quarter.
"Stevenson is tough,'' said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher. "Every time you make a mistake, it's magnified. We were right there at 14-10 and then the lead is double digits. They hit shots and we didn't."
Stevenson's Connor Cashaw (13 points) was saluted prior to the game for
surpassing 1,000 career points. He celebrated by dunking the ball in the first quarter, which ignited a 9-0 run by the home team.
If Lake Zurich was going to make a run at the favored Pats, it came in the second quarter. The Pats missed their first three shots as Lake Zurich's Mike Travlos began to make some shots. However, that's when Morrissey hit another 3-pointer and gifted guard Jalen Brunson (17 points) had a personal 6-point run. The halftime lead was 40-22.
"All of our kids can shoot the ball,'' Ambrose said. "Matt got it going tonight."
Pitcher noted a few of his players stepped up in this one-sided affair.
"Will (McClaughry) is getting more aggressive,'' Pitcher said. "And both Jack O'Neill and Nick Penny gave us good minutes. We have to put this game in perspective. We have to be more aggressive. We can play better."
Morrissey's defensive attention went to Travlos. The junior led Lake Zurich with 15 points.
"Travlos has really improved,'' Morrissey said. "He's tough to guard."
For this football player, basketball has brought Morrissey some good times.
"We are doing pretty well,'' Morrissey said. "We have some of the best guards around and we have good team chemistry."