Smith, Stevenson work past Prospect

 
By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/20/2015 12:05 AM
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On Saturday night in Mt. Prospect, the host Knights broke out to a 10-2 lead over Stevenson's boys basketball team with 5:17 remaining in the initial quarter.

Then the Patriots' Justin Smith, a 6 foot-7 junior center, went to work.

Over the next 3:35, Smith scored 9 of Stevenson's 12 points including the first of 4 slam dunks. When the night was over, Smith had scored 32 points on 13-for-16 shooting. He converted 5 of 5 from the free throw line and had 4 assists and 3 blocks in the Patriots' 69-59 nonconference win.

The victory improved Stevenson's record to 6-2 while the Knights dropped to 5-4.

"Justin played like an all-stater at both ends of the court," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "He's starting to communicate better on the floor with the other players. He talks with his actions. His early dunk got the other players juiced. He's a captain and he's a leader."

Stevenson's defense was a key factor in the win, as it prevented the Knights from penetrating inside.

"They closed the openings to lane lane real fast when we tried to get the ball inside," said Prospect guard Frankie Mack. "What we had to do was move the ball around the perimeter as best we could. They got some points off of our turnovers. We need to protect the ball better."

The Knights were forced to shoot from 3-point range most of the game, and managed to convert 14 of 23 long-range attempts. But from inside the arc, Prospect shot just 6 of 18.

"We sagged off them a bit," said Ambrose. "We wanted to force them outside but we should have covered them up a little bit more."

Mack led Prospect with 16 points to along with 4 assists. David Swedburg added 10 points and Matt Szuba tallied 9.

The Knights kept it close, staying between 2 and 5 points until just after halftime.

Prospect cut the Patriots' lead to 34-29 following two Mack free throws with 6:49 left in the third quarter.

The Patriots' Willie Herenton (12 points) connected on a 3-pointer and followed that with a basket to ignite an 11-2 run, giving Stevenson a 45-31 lead with 2:43 left in the quarter. The Knights would get no closer than 10 points.

Ryuki Aoki added 12 points and Rodney Herenton finished with 10.

"Coach (Ambrose) says I have too keep a high energy level for the whole game," said Smith. "When I get going, the team gets going and then we flourish. We have the talent and chemistry. If we execute and play like we did tonight we're going to be all right."

Prospect coach John Camardella was impressed with Smith also.

"He has got a lot of talent. He was really focused on what he had to do. He got a lot of offense from their defense. They closed gaps on us real fast when we tried to get inside. This is by far the fastest team we've played so far.

"This was a good learning experience. Our guys played hard and didn't quit. We need games like this to measure ourselves."

Stevenson's next stop will be at the new Hinsdale Central tournament while the Knights play Lake Park at 9 a.m. Monday at Wheeling's Hardwood Classic.

Barrington 60, Lakes 46: Senior center Will Reinchard scored a game-high 20 points to help the Broncos to a winning start in Jacobs' Hinkle Holiday Classic on Saturday.

Senior forward Brett Budzak had a season-best 17 points and canned three 3s, and Barrington was sharp at the foul line, making 15 of 18 attempts.

The Broncos (6-5) snapped a four-game losing streak and return to tournament play Monday with a 6 p.m. contest against Crystal Lake South.

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