Qualley's quality effort helps Stevenson past Palatine
Jackson Qualley is the most experienced player for the Stevenson boys basketball team this season.
Friday afternoon at the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic, he sure looked like it in leading Stevenson to a 56-47 win over the host Pirates.
The win put Stevenson into the championship matchup against York at 4:45 p.m. Saturday.
Although it's late November, the contest showed all the earmarks of a March playoff game.
Tied at 8-8 after one quarter, Palatine forged ahead 20-19 to end the first half on Evan Daly's 3-point basket.
Qualley the keyed a 14-0 run in the third quarter that turned a 26-22 deficit into a 36-26 lead.
"We just had good looks and made our shots," said Qualley, a team captain. "It was the same offense that we ran in the first half, except that the shots fell for us."
Qualley's 3-point play pulled the Patriots (3-0) to within 26-25 with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
The senior guard then popped in a 3 with 3:38 left for a 28-26 Pats lead.
Ethan Koleski hit 2 free throws, which were followed by 3-point baskets by Luke Cheing (15 points) and Matt Ambrose (14 points).
Qualley scored 15 points and led the team in rebounding with 7. He also dished out 4 assists.
"As our most experienced player from last year, we expect Qualley to come through for us," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose.
Palatine (2-1), which plays for third place on Saturday, was able to cut the lead to 46-41 with 4:10 left on a free throw from David Balanganayi (8 points, 7 rebounds).
The Patriots then used the clock to their advantage. Cheing connected for a 3 and Qualley drove the lane to score on a reverse layup. That swelled the lead to 51-41, and Palatine could not come back.
"I've been in close game situations like this last season," Qualley said. "I used my experience to help the other players and get them into the right places on the floor. I want to help the other players develop and I have to take on the leadership role to help. Even when we're not hitting, we can rely on our defense."
Stevenson connected on 10-of-16 three-point attempts for the game.
Palatine had three players in double figures. Daly had 12 points (on four 3s) while Cortez Hogans (5 rebounds) and Lamon Berry each scored 10.
"Our kids played hard," said Palatine coach Eric Millstone. "Stevenson played well for longer stretches of the game than we did. At times, we kind of splintered. That's why the game turned out the way it did. Stevenson shot the ball well and didn't force things."
"Our defense was very solid," said Ambrose. "All phases of the game seemed to work well for us tonight. We had some good scoring balance. We dug in when we had to. I was very proud of our effort. This is a team that doesn't have a superstar player. We have to be able to outwork other teams."