Qualley fits right in as Stevenson rolls
Just in time for the boys basketball team's playoff run last season, Stevenson then-sophomore Jackson Qualley was called up to the varsity. He was embraced by his teammates with open arms then, and the practical experience that Qualley gained proved extremely valuable.
Fast forward to the start of the 2016-17 season and Qualley is starter for the Patriots as they opened their season against Glenbrook South at the Bison Classic at Buffalo Grove.
"When I got called up last year, I felt like I fit in and the guys welcomed me in," Qualley said. "The chemistry now is a lot more different, now that I have spent even more time with these guys."
Qualley got the Patriots off to a quality start, scoring 8 of his 13 points in the first half to help lead Stevenson to an 81-53 romp over the Titans.
"Tonight was just one game for us but we were glad we got him some time out there in different situations," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose of Qualley.
Stevenson (1-0) also has the very capable talents of Indiana-bound senior Justin Smith. The wide array of high-flying dunks weren't so much a surprise as was Smith's improved ability to shoot from the outside.
Smith tallied 14 of his game-best 28 points in the third quarter as the Patriots opened up the advantage. Stevenson used a 20-2 run in the second quarter and a 9-2 run to open the third quarter to build a 60-30 lead midway through the third quarter.
"First half, we did real well," Ambrose said. "I was proud of our offense in the first half but we bogged down some in the third quarter and didn't do all the things necessary."
The 20-2 run in the second quarter started on the defensive end for Stevenson. The Patriots forced South (1-1) into 6 turnovers while allowing just 2 shots during that stretch. The Titans finally tallied a bucket with 2:35 left in the half but by then the margin had ballooned to 44-20.
The combination of Qualley, Smith, Willie Herenton, Aiden O'Connell and Mitchell Huelsman limited the Titans to just 8-for-22 from the floor in the first half. Stevenson during that same stretch hit on 19 of 24 field goals.
Offensively the attack was more balanced than it would seem. Smith's 28 and Qualley's 13 were joined by 15 points from Herenton.
Glenbrook South was paced by 23 points from returning leading scorer Matt Giannakopoulos.