When the final shot attempt from Lake Forest senior Noah Karras hit the front of the rim with the clock about to expire, only then could Stevenson junior standout Jalen Brunson truly appreciate the magnitude of his night, and of what he and his team accomplished.
Friday night in the North Suburban Lake Division finale between the Patriots and host Scouts, Brunson and Lake Forest junior Evan Boudreaux had games that no one in the overflow crowd at Lake Forest will ever forget.
In front of a high-profile coaching audience that featured Michigan coach John Beilein, Purdue coach Matt Painter and Indiana coach Tom Crean, Brunson went for a single-game school record 56 points — and the Patriots needed every one of them in a heart-pounding 95-93 win over Lake Forest.
Brunson’s record setting night also put him atop the all-time scoring list at Stevenson, passing Chris Coleman. Brunson now has 1,642 points and counting.
“This feels great, but in the end my focus is on goal — one game at a time,” said Brunson, who made 19 of 31 shots from the field.
Stevenson (24-1, 11-1) captured its second consecutive NSC Lake Division title and will face North Chicago on Wednesday night in an attempt to defend its conference title.
“We see it in practice at times, and sometimes before games where (Brunson) is really hitting it and when the lights come on he just seems to get hotter,” said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose, whose team has won 11 straight.
“He can really put the ball in the basket a lot of different ways — and we want the ball in his hands all the time.”
It looked as if Brunson and the Patriots would pull away and take control as they built a healthy lead to start the second half at 41-29. But Boudreaux and Lake Forest (20-5, 8-4) were starting to heat up themselves.
Boudreaux scored 16 of his career-best 43 points in a third quarter that saw the Scouts trim the margin to 2 on several occasions.
When the fourth quarter came, Stevenson built its biggest lead of the half at 70-57 before senior Ryan Bender went on his own personal scoring run. He scored 15 of his career-best 20 in the fourth quarter, including a running 2-point field goal that sent the game into the first overtime at 78-78.
“This was just a great game to be a part of,” Bender said. “It hurts a little that it didn’t go our way, but it was a fun environment and I know we gave it all we had.”
Bender struck again to force a second overtime when his long 3-pointer tied the game at 88-88, forcing another extra session.
In the second extra session, Connor Cashaw, who forced 9 of the Scouts 14 turnovers, came alive. Cashaw forced a turnover that led to the running layup by Brunson that ultimately won the game for Stevenson.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” said Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala. “They’ve got some great players that made some huge plays, and we had a lot of players step up and make big plays. It was a great high school basketball game.”
Cashaw finished with 26 points on the night as the only other Patriot player in double figures. Noah Karras chipped in 11 for Lake Forest with 9 coming in the second half and overtime.