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Article updated: 2/23/2014 12:16 AM
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Stevenson caps wild, winning weekend
 

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Stevenson caps wild, winning weekend
 

After Jalen Brunson lit up Lake Forest for a school-record 57 points in a double-overtime win Friday night, his cellphone kept lighting up with calls and text messages.

So he turned it off.

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He may as well silent his phone again today.

"I'm sleeping for 24 hours," Brunson joked after he and his Stevenson basketball teammates capped a thrilling weekend with a 65-56 win over four-time defending state champ Simeon in the City-Suburban Showdown at Niles West in Skokie Saturday night.

Heck, who can sleep?

"My dad and my other mentors, like my coaches, they always tell us, 'Tiredness is a mentality,' " Connor Cashaw said. "You just got to block it out and get to the main goal, which is to win."

Cashaw and Brunson scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, as Stevenson, ranked third in the AP poll, improved to 25-1. No. 5 Simeon slipped to 18-6.

Behind Kentucky-bound Tyler Ulis' 42 points, Marian Catholic defeated Lake Forest and Evan Boudreaux (34 points, 12 rebounds) 67-63 in the opening game of the showcase, which drew an announced crowd of 3,649.

For Stevenson, call its win a statement game.

Which was the Patriots' 26th this season.

"Some of the teams in our league are as good as (Simeon)," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "We play a tough schedule. Every game, we want to make a statement. Even if we play a team that doesn't have a lot of wins, we say let's make a statement about that team or that quarter."

After his amazing effort Friday night, Brunson got ready for Simeon -- which knocked off the Patriots in last year's state title game -- by taking an ice bath.

"It was awful," Brunson said. "That really helped just to try to get my legs. And then also just eating right and drinking a lot of fluids helped."

Stevenson had to withstand an early flurry of dunks by Simeon, whose shortest starter was 6 feet 4. A couple of power dunks by Edward Morrow (team-high 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks) had the Wolverines up 14-12 after one quarter. But Cashaw's pair of 3-pointers helped Stevenson stay close.

Brunson's baseline move had the Patriots ahead 26-25 late in the first half. Isaiah Moss' second dunk of the quarter had Simeon on top at the break.

Simeon was ahead 34-31 with three minutes gone in the second half. But Brunson then buried the second of his two 3s, starting an 11-2 run that gave Stevenson a 42-36 lead with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

Cashaw was huge during the run, sinking a 3-pointer, scoring on a finger-roll layup, hitting a free throw and scooping in a shot after splitting the defense.

The play of Parker Nichols was also big for Stevenson. While the tallest Patriot starter (6 feet 5) scored only 4 points, he took 2 charges in the third quarter.

"Parker Nichols came up big for us," Cashaw said.

With Stevenson up 47-41 after three, Brunson opened the fourth-quarter scoring by making good on his third attempt to score on a putback, while also drawing the foul. Those accounted for 2 of his 6 rebounds.

Brunson later nearly drained a shot with his back to the basket.

How's that for stamina?

"I'm not surprised because he gets up in the morning and just works out again," Ambrose said. "He really takes care of his body, too."

"He's probably the best point guard in the junior class in the country," Simeon coach Robert Smith said of Brunson. "He could possibly be the best player in the state of Illinois in the junior class. He's having that type of year."

Stevenson led 55-49 when Brunson fired a pass to Matt Johnson (11 points), who knocked down his third 3 of the game with 2:41 left in the fourth.

That shot all but sealed the Patriots' weekend sweep against two of the state's best teams.

Matt Morrissey added 9 points to help subdue Simeon.

"They have a lot of great athletes and great shooters, and they're just big," Brunson said. "Compared to us, they're pretty huge. But I think we just had the defensive tenacity to come out and play really hard."

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