Brunson, Cashaw set winning tempo for Stevenson
Stevenson's top two scorers combined give the Patriots exactly what they needed in the final game of the Bison Classic boys basketball tournament at Buffalo Grove on Saturday.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Jalen Brunson scored 26 points, and all-tournament selection Connor Cashaw added 19 as the Patriots repeated as tournament champion, finishing with a 4-0 record after beating Buffalo Grove 67-44.
Brunson (17) and Cashaw (14) combined for 31 of the team's 38 first-half points, and the Patriots led by 21 at halftime.
"(Jalen's) got a second or third sense of where his teammates are, what we need, and how the game is being called," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said of Brunson's ability to find open teammates and control the game. "He has a unique ability. The game goes slow for him. We see it every day in practice. He plays at a higher level."
"We knew they were going to be physical," Brunson said. "We had some good rotations and played good team defense."
With the return of Matt Morrissey to the court after Stevenson's football season concluded in last week's semifinals, the team added one more returning starter from last season's state runner-up team. Cameron Green is still recuperating from a hand injury.
"We're getting everyone back," Brunson said. "Once we're at full strength, we'll be a very good team."
"It's good to be back out there," Morrissey said. "We're really deep this year. We have guys who can come off the bench and contribute."
Buffalo Grove outscored Stevenson 18-15 in the third quarter. Kyle Calcagno scored all 6 of his points in the third. Dave Warden (9 points), Nate Woten and Conner Reid each made 3-point baskets, and the Bison (2-2) trimmed the deficit to 53-35 after three quarters.
"We were pretty happy with the results of the tournament," Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson said. "That's a top-five team, and we played with them in the third quarter.
"If we can't build from that, something's wrong."
The Bison's top scorer was sophomore reserve Joey Pinakidas with 11 points.
"It was good to see how he responded against one of the best teams in the state," Peterson said.
Matthew Johnson scored 8 points for Stevenson, which faces Prospect Wednesday, and Ryan Rosenbaum scored 5 coming off the bench. All-tournament Andrew Apel scored 6 for the Bison, who open Mid-Suburban East play Friday against Wheeling.