High-flying Stevenson rolls at Libertyville
When the guards start dunking, it could be a long night for the team getting hit by that hard shot.
And yes, we all know that Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson is a big star, but when he leads his team in the dunking department, it's going to be a good night for the Patriots boys basketball program.
Libertyville's bid to upset the NSC leading Pats lasted one Joe Borcia basket on Friday night in Libertyville.
Brunson had 3 dunks. Fellow senior Matt Johnson had his second 4-point play against the Wildcats, and Stevenson (17-2) had everything going its way in a 77-50 road romp in North Suburban Lake action.
"We are getting more experience,'' Brunson said. "Dunking the basketball is having confidence."
Brunson switched hands while on his way to those runaway dunk shots.
"I've been working on my right hand,'' he said.
Brunson didn't mind sitting down and letting the rest the Stevenson roster get some playing time in the final quarter.
"Our second and third string gave us great energy,'' he said.
The Wildcats (10-8) knew full well, it wouldn't be their advantage to run with the faster Patriots.
"You have to do creative things,'' said Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil. "But at the start, we tackled a guy and they made us pay when they hit a 3-pointer. Stevenson is a terrific team with a ton of discipline."
Brunson (18 points) had two of his dunks in the opening quarter. Connor Cashaw (21 points, 9 rebounds) added 8 of his game-high 21 points, in the first quarter. The Stevenson lead heading to the second quarter was 22-13.
"He (Brunson) definitely presents some problems,'' said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "We wanted to get a lead and then we had some dunks. I don't know if Jalen could have done that last year."
The Pats lead hit 20 points in the second quarter, thanks in part to a run of 3s. Parker Nichols and Johnson both had a pair of 3-pointers. And for good measure, Johnson added a free throw after getting fouled on his good 3-pointer as the state's top-ranked team closed the first half leading 39-21.
If there was good news coming from the Libertyville camp, it came from junior Jabari Quigley (13 points). He dazzled the home crowd with his long-range shooting, finishing with three 3s.
"Jabari struggled early,'' Bogumil said. "He's clearly an open-court player. And his minutes have increased. We are excited about his future."
It was more of the same in the second half. Cashaw opened it with a 3-pointer and the pounding went on from there. Brunson and teammate Justin Smith had back-to-back dunks.
Ambrose was ready to let his reserves play a good portion of the final quarter. Junior Raymond Sullivan had a steal and layup as the Patriots' lead soared above 30 points.