It was all flashbulbs and fans, a kind of mini-paparazzi moment for Stevenson junior Matt Johnson following the Class 4A Lake Zurich sectional final against No. 2 seeded Fremd.
Not for a moment did Johnson, who transferred to Stevenson from Batavia before the school year, think any of this was going to happen.
"I knew they had some good players and all," said Johnson who'd fashioned himself a selfie moment with the Stevenson fans, "but I didn't think of all this."
A couple of those good players had really good nights Friday night. The junior tandem of Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw were too much for the previously unbeaten Vikings to match.
Brunson tallied a game-best 27 points and Cashaw went for 20 points and 10 rebounds to lift the top-seeded Patriots to a hard-fought 63-48 win over the previously unbeaten Vikings on Friday night.
Stevenson set a school record for wins with 30, with just one defeat this season. Fremd, after tying its school record with a sectional semifinal win Wednesday against Highland Park, suffered its first loss of the season to finish 28-1.
The victory was also No. 300 in the 15-year career at Stevenson for coach Pat Ambrose.
"We didn't find out until after the game (about coach Ambrose)," Cashaw said. "This is just a blessing to be in this position. But we aren't satisfied as of yet."
Stevenson advances to the Tuesday night's supersectional at Northern Illinois University against Rockford Auburn, an 83-73 winner over South Elgin, at 8 p.m.
"The first half we thought the game was at (Fremd's) pace," Ambrose said. "The second half I thought we kind of stretched the game out some, forced some turnovers and played real well from there."
The Vikings were within a point of Stevenson at 22-21 with 2:20 to go in the first half before an odd bounce and a rare Fremd turnover ignited a Patriots run.
As Cornell-bound Viking senior Riley Glassmann headed up court, he had his pocket picked by Brunson, leading to a Stevenson run-out. The bucket and ensuing 3-point play helped Stevenson close out the first half leading 27-21.
"I thought we made a couple of small mistakes that Stevenson capitalized on," said Fremd coach Bob Widlowski. "We battled with them all game long, but if you give them a couple of windows here and there then they put a lot of pressure on you."
Matt Ochoa had the Vikings' offense going early with 8 first-half points, but was limited in the second half to just 3 free throws.
"I thought it was kind of give and take the whole night," said Glassmann, who led the Vikings with 18 points, including 13 after halftime. "We hit some shots and got some drives, but this one just hurts in the end."
When Fremd closed within 31-26 early in the third quarter Brunson and Cashaw both answered. A long 3-pointer by Brunson and a steal by Cashaw ignited a 10-3 spurt that moved the lead into double figures for the first time at 43-31 after three.
"Those two are such good players," Glassmann said. "We would stop one of them, and the next time down the other would hit a shot."
The loss ended a remarkable run from the Vikings. The Mid-Suburban West and MSL champions ran the table on their way to the league crown.
"The one thing I will remember about this group is how well and how hard we worked together," Glassmann said. "We are a family, this group of guys. I wish we could play together next year."