Zalewski excels in support role as Stevenson tops Lake Forest
Earlier in the season, Eric Zalewski was coming off the bench for Stevenson's boys basketball team. But in several recent games, he'd picked up a starter's role.
On Tuesday night, he returned to the bench and ended up providing some key play for the Patriots late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
Zalewski's 8-point effort was just the boost Stevenson needed to get past Lake Forest 50-40 in a North Suburban Lake battle in Lincolnshire.
"It's a little bit different," Zalewski said. "We're just moving things around in the starting lineup and doing what's best for the team.
"I'm just doing what I can to help us win, whether it's getting a charge on defense or making shots when (Lake Forest) was coming back."
His efforts showed in the latter stages of the third quarter. Lake Forest (7-6, 1-3) had cut the lead down to 31-26 when Zalewski made a layup and followed up with a short jumper to cap a 6-0 Stevenson run that made it 37-26 with 2:05 left in the period.
Starting the fourth quarter, the Patriots (9-4, 3-1) held a 39-33 lead. Ryuji Aoki made 1 of 2 free throws, and Zalewski followed up with another layup with 7:12 remaining that bumped the lead back out to 42-33.
Stevenson's Justin Smith was held scoreless in the third quarter. But had a strong fourth quarter with a key 3-point play which put the Patriots up 45-35 with 2:43 left. Smith finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.
"I was just trying to shut (Lorenzo Edwards) down," said Smith of Lake Forest's standout. " I knew that they wanted to give him the ball. Just focusing on him not getting the ball or to score. It was one of those nights that we had an all-around team effort."
Willie Herenton had a team-high 18 points for Stevenson; he made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch and 9 of 10 for the game. His brother Rodney added 9 points.
Edwards led the Scouts with 15 points, 14 boards and 3 blocked shots, and Connor Hannekamp came off the bench to score 8.
Lake Forest couldn't get its gameplan going against Stevenson.
"(Stevenson's) defense was really good," Lake Forest coach Phil LaScala said. "They did a great to take us out of our stuff and extend us. We didn't respond very well. They did a great job in the post and helping out. They were well prepared for our stuff."
For Stevenson, the victory broke a two-game losing streak, against Homewood-Floosmoor and Maine South as the Patriots placed fourth at Hinsdale Central's holiday tournament. The Pats had also lost their most recent home game to Lake Zurich.
"It's a good feeling -- it was like having a bad taste in your mouth, losing two in a row," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "Once we got into a lead, we had to take time off the clock. We had balance, a lot of kids contributed and we had some good defense -- especially against a well-coached Lake Forest team that won't let you run away."