2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/3/2018 10:38 PM

Stevenson hangs on against Lake Forest

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The boys basketball program that boasts three state trophies in the last five years nearly made more history.

This would not have been the good kind, however.

"It would have been historically bad," Patriots coach Pat Ambrose said.

Has Stevenson, after all, ever lost a game after leading 19-0 after one quarter?

The Patriots beat Lake Forest 39-34 Saturday night, but not before the visiting Scouts pulled within three points with still more than two minutes left in the fourth quarter of the North Suburban Conference game.

"A win's a win," said guard Jackson Qualley, whose third 3-pointer had Stevenson up 19-0 with 1:10 left in the first quarter. "It's a hard conference. Going back around, playing everybody twice, they're going to know what you're going to do. You have to do something different. We did that in the first (quarter), and then they adjusted pretty well. I think, although it wasn't the prettiest win, guys are not relieved but happy."

Stevenson, which opened NSC play with a win at Lake Forest in December, got a team-best 15 points from Luke Chieng (three 3-pointers) and 10 apiece from Qualley and Samvit Ram. The Patriots improved to 13-6 and 7-2 in the NSC with their sixth win in a row and sixth straight in conference. They and Libertyville, which beat Warren Saturday night, remain tied for first place.

Ben Gibson scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 6 rebounds for Lake Forest (8-13, 3-6). Coach Phil LaScala used seven players off his bench in the opening quarter, which saw his Scouts shoot 0 of 11 and commit 4 turnovers.

"We didn't come out with the energy we talked about," LaScala said. "They took it to us. They knocked down shots. That's what they do. They're a really skilled team, they move the ball very well, they screen very well, and we weren't ready for them."

By the start of the second quarter, Lake Forest was ready.

"We just started playing with a sense of urgency," Gibson said. "Once we realized we were down 19-0, it was embarrassing."

Lake Forest opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run, which Gibson capped by scooping in a shot with just two minutes gone, and the Scouts were back in the game. They outscored Stevenson 11-8 in the quarter but still trailed 27-11 at halftime.

"The game changed when they pressed a little bit," said Ambrose, whose Patriots played their second game in a row without his son Matthew (concussion protocol), who hopes to play Tuesday night against Zion-Benton. "We didn't handle it as well as we could have."

Lake Forest allowed only a Matthew Kaznikov layup in third quarter and limited Stevenson to 1-of-7 shooting to get within 29-23 entering the fourth.

"We started pressuring the ball, cutting a lot harder, executing our plays and getting open shots," Gibson said. "We were getting the ball inside. That was a big part of (the comeback)."

When Gibson sank a 3-pointer with 5:31 left in the fourth, Lake Forest had cut its deficit to three. A pair of free throws by Chieng made it 33-28, but a layup by Tommy Hanson had the Scouts within a single possession again at 33-30 with 2:29 remaining.

Qualley then penetrated the lane and found an open Ram in the left corner. Ram buried the 3, extending the Patriots' lead to 36-30 with 1:59 to go.

Two more free throws by Chieng with 28.8 seconds on the clock sealed it.

"We were able to buckle down on defense when we needed to, especially in that fourth quarter," Qualley said. "Our free throws and our defense pulled it out for us."

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