Smith, Stevenson share in winning effort at BG
Stevenson's Justin Smith had just received the MVP trophy Saturday night in the Buffalo Grove Tournament.
But he was eager to share the praise after the Patriots' 64-31 win over the host Bison.
"I would not be able to do what I do without my teammates," said the Indiana-bound senior. "We all work the same way. We go after loose balls, look for the best shot and play good defense. It's not a 1-against-5 situation -- it's 5 against 5."
Smith paved the way for the 4-0 Patriots with a double-double, finishing with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Willie Herenton added 15 points, and Jackson Qualley contributed 7.
Buffalo Grove coach Keith Peterson will certainly remember Smith's play over Stevenson's four games.
"I was impressed with how hard he worked all four days," said Peterson. "He was in attack mode all week."
Early in the game, the Bison (3-1) were hanging with Stevenson, and after all-tournament pick Jack Vaselaney assisted on a basket to Mac Camardo (6 points), the score was tied at 9 with 3:03 left in the quarter.
Herenton's 3-point play broke the tie. And Stevenson's defense went to work, forcing 4 turnovers over the rest of the quarter as the Patriots outscored the Bison 9-0 to lead 18-9.
The Pats continued their run to start the second quarter with a 8-0 spurt. Qualley had 5 points and Eric Zalewski's 3 finished the 17-0 run.
The Bison got a basket from Vaselaney (9 points) and a 3-point play from Demetri Lamnick to cut the lead to 26-14 with 5:06 left in the first half, but BG got no closer.
Stevenson finished the quarter with a 14-2 burst to lead 40-16 at halftime. Smith scored 9 points in that run.
"I really worked hard with my team this summer," said Smith. "I didn't have a very good AAU spring so I just put my head down and went to work. I worked on my jump shot and ball-handling. We spent lot of time over the summer building chemistry between us."
Patriots coach Pat Ambrose was pleased with what he saw Saturday night.
"We knew Buffalo Grove had good shooters," said Ambrose. "We couldn't let them get open shots. We had to get back on defense, find the shooters and prevent the open looks.
"We do have things to work on just like every team does after this week. We really worked hard on defense this week, though."
"Stevenson is a great team," said Peterson. "They have had a lot of success. It's the kind of success we want to build on. I'm pretty happy that we went 3-1 and finished second. We had better quality teams in the tournament this year."
"We learned over the four games what we can do and what we have to improve on," said Smith. "We need to work on our main goal -- to win the state tournament."