Stevenson adjusts, stops McHenry
Jalen Brunson endured a rare rough night shooting the basketball, but it was his Stevenson coach who delivered the loudest clang.
After calling a timeout with three minutes gone in the second half of Tuesday night's Class 4A McHenry regional semifinal between the Patriots and McHenry, an angry Pat Ambrose grabbed his players' attention by slamming his clipboard.
Maybe Stevenson's coach had a bad vibe on a night that yielded a gigantic upset, as the state's No. 1-ranked team, Curie, lost in overtime to DuSable.
Top-seeded Stevenson responded to its coach's outburst, as the Patriots went on to win 65-38, earning them a berth in Friday's 7 p.m. regional final against Warren.
"There were some little things that we had talked about in practice, and when those little things creep in, I'm going to let the players know that," said Ambrose, who called his timeout after McHenry sank a 3-pointer and scored on an uncontested layup on back-to-back possessions. "Give McHenry credit. They took advantage of those little things. When we slipped up, they would jump right on it."
Down 27-8 at halftime, 19th-seeded McHenry cut its deficit to 38-26 with 2:34 left in the third quarter, but the Warriors never got any closer. Brunson fed Parker Nichols on an inbounds play and scored 7 points during a 9-2 run that stretched the Stevenson lead to 47-28 late in the third.
Connor Cashaw scored a game-high 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead Stevenson (27-1). Brunson shot just 5 of 17 from the floor, and yet he still nearly finished with his first triple-double (18 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists).
"It was just one of those nights where I played selfishly (in the first half)," said Brunson, who missed his first 5 shots and had only 4 points at halftime after sinking 2 free throws with 1.3 seconds left. "A couple of my shots were bad shots."
Ambrose didn't seem to think his superstar was under the weather or tired.
"He's feeling fine," Ambrose said. "He shot real well in practice. He's going to give you no excuses, that's for sure, even if he's not feeling well."
"My shot wasn't going in for me so I should have tried slowing down," Brunson said. "I think I was trying to find my shot way too fast."
Matt Johnson added 9 points on three 3-pointers for Stevenson, while Matt Morrissey had 7 points and 6 rebounds.
McHenry received 12 points apiece from Kyle Postal (three 3s) and Cody Freund.