Credit 'D' for Stevenson's close-call win over Libertyville
After they and their Stevenson basketball teammates survived 3 missed free throws in the final seconds to win a North Suburban Lake Division thriller, Rodney and Willie Herenton shared a laugh.
Close teammates -- brothers -- can razz each other.
"I'll hear it tomorrow morning at shootaround," Rodney Herenton Jr., who went 0 of 2 from the line with 3.7 seconds on the clock, said after the Patriots rallied in the second half to edge host Libertyville 54-53 Friday night.
"He worked on (free throws) last night. I don't know what happened," Willie Herenton said, smiling. "He just has to concentrate."
The Herenton brothers can keep sharing laughs.
Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose will encourage sharing -- the basketball.
"When we assist and share the ball, we're good," Ambrose said. "When we take team shots, we're a very good team. When we take individual shots, we're a below-average team. Could everyone say that? Yes. But we're strong enough and good enough that we can get good shots."
Down 8 points at halftime, Stevenson came out strong to start the third quarter, and it proved to be the difference in the game.
Led by forward Justin Smith and guard Ryuji Aoki, Stevenson outscored Libertyville 21-7 in the third quarter. Smith scored 9 of his team-high 15 points and also swatted a shot into the third row, while Aoki buried a pair of 3-pointers and scored 8 of his 12 points.
"We were moving the ball around," said Willie Herenton, who finished with 11 points, going 5 of 6 from the stripe. "When we move the ball around, we get better shots. They weren't quick or contested, so we were able to get higher-percentage shots. That's what got us back in the game."
While Stevenson improved to 10-4 and 4-1 in the NSC Lake, Libertyville fell to 9-7 and 2-4 with its fourth loss in a row.
"Our struggle this season so far has just been putting a full 32 minutes together," said Wildcats forward Ben Kimpler, who had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. "We did a better job this game, but that third quarter we struggled for a little bit."
"It wasn't anything complicated (in the third quarter)," said Rodney Herenton, who had 5 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. "It was simple: We got to get stops."
After shooting 56 percent (14 of 25) in the first half, which included Christian Nastoff's buzzer-beating 3-pointer that put them up 33-25 at the break, the Wildcats made just 5 of 18 shots (28 percent) in the second half.
"Credit to our defense for this win," Rodney Herenton said.
Libertyville, which enjoyed a 12-point lead midway through the second quarter, found itself down 50-42 after Smith finished a layup off a pass from Willie Herenton with 6:15 left in the fourth. But 4 free throws by Kimpler and a jumper from Drew Peterson (8 points) pulled Libertyville within 50-48. Two free throws apiece by the Herenton brothers sandwiched a pair of foul tosses by Libertyville's Paul Steinhaus.
Up 54-50, Stevenson missed a one-and-one with 13.4 seconds left. Steinhaus (10 points) drained a 3-pointer with a defender in his face to make it a one-point game. Rodney Herenton's 2 missed throws gave the home team one final shot.
Jabari Quigley inbounded the ball under Libertyville's basket to Steinhaus, who raced into the frontcourt. With a defender guarding him tightly again, Steinhaus fired a long 3-pointer. It fell short at the buzzer, as did Libertyville's comeback bid.
"It's hard to crawl back against an explosive team like Stevenson," Kimpler said.
"We just wore them down a little (in the second half)," Ambrose said. "We got a little more size and speed. We got out (on the fastbreak) and got some easy buckets."