Waukegan ends Stevenson's season
Stevenson's strong boys basketball season came to a halt Friday night in Des Plaines at Maine West High School.
The No. 3-seeded Patriots, who had a stellar season that included a North Suburban Conference title, saw it draw to a close in the Class 4A regional final, losing to Waukegan 82-71.
The No. 6-seeded Bulldogs rode the coattails of senior forward Carson Newsome, who scored 33 points and pulled down 9 rebounds as Waukegan advanced to its own sectional next week.
The two North Suburban rivals split their regular-season games leading up to the regional final.
Justin Smith (28 points, 8 rebounds) and Willie Herenton (27 points) gave gallant efforts but just could not overcome the Bulldogs' scorching shooting in the first half.
Waukegan (20-8) hit 9 of 14 first-quarter shots and 6 of 10 in the second quarter for a .625 percentage.
The Bulldogs finished at 59 percent shooting (28-of-47) while Stevenson (22-6) finished at 50 percent on 29-of-58 from the field.
Newsome scored 23 points in the first half, and with 3:37 left in the second quarter he's personally outscored the Patriots 23-21.
Ja'Dyn Brown scored 9 of his 17 in the first half as the Bulldogs led Stevenson 42-27 at the break.
"Waukegan was off the charts shooting in the first half," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "They were terrific. We struggled with them.
"Every time we would make a run, they would answer back with a layup. We just couldn't stop them."
Newsome scored 15 points in the first quarter. His drive to the basket with 6:32 left in the first quarter gave Waukegan the lead for good.
"My effort tonight was fueled by my teammates," Newsome said. "When we had our walk-through earlier today, we could just sense we were ready for a great effort. I wanted to be aggressive tonight and we got out of the gate with a fast start. With the lead we had at halftime, we talked about staying together. No one-on-one stuff. Play together."
Stevenson showed a nice streak late in the third quarter.
Herenton scored three baskets, Smith got a putback and Jackson Qualley hit a 3 to end the quarter with Stevenson trailing 56-47.
"I thought my 3-point basket would get us some momentum," said Qualley, who would finish with 8 points. "We had some defensive lapses that we hadn't had all year."
Waukegan kept Stevenson at arm's length most of the fourth quarter, maintaining a lead between 9 and 13 points.
Newsome put the exclamation point on the win with his third dunk with :26 left for an 80-69 lead.
"That's when I felt we had the win," Newsome said.
Free throws were a key factor for Waukegan as the Bulldogs connected on 19 of 23 to Stevenson's 8 of 12.
"We work on our free throws throughout practice," Newsome said. "You know when it's late in the game and you're tired, you have to make those."
"We stuck to our game plan the whole night," said Ja'Dyn Brown. "Our defense played well and at times we exploited their slow play. We really played with our hearts."
"They just really executed well," Ambrose said. "They made a lot of tough shots. They got us on our heels early in the game."
"This was a game that Newsome was building for," said Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw. "When we needed a big effort he gave it to us. He became a strong offensive player by working on his defense. It helped him to become an all-around player. Our seniors showed a lot of leadership tonight. I am just very proud of them. Right now, I think we're as good as anyone."
Bryan Brown added 12 points and DeShawn Davidson was also in double figures for Waukegan with 11.