Stevenson tops York for Molitor title
In its first appearance in the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving tournament at Palatine, the Stevenson Patriots boys basketball team was a champion.
The Patriots hit 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to pull out a 63-52 win over York on Saturday.
Stevenson improved to 4-0 in the young season, while York suffered its first loss.
Patriots sophomore Matt Ambrose hit 5 of the team's last 6 free throws to secure the win. Ambrose also finished with 9 rebounds.
"The free throws in the fourth quarter were so important," said Ambrose. "You have to hit those. In a game like this one, it can make or break a game. This was really an emotional game and we finished it off to get the win."
Both teams were shooting lights out in the first half as Stevenson made 70 percent of its shots from the field and York 65 percent.
Stevenson connected on 7 of its 11 three-point attempts in the first half while the Dukes (3-1) connected on 5 of their 10.
Stevenson led 21-18 after the first quarter and 34-32 at halftime.
The second half was much different, as York shot 5-for-30 in the second, all 3-point baskets. The Dukes managed just 1 basket in the fourth quarter and 3 free throws.
"The shots just didn't fall for us in the second half," said York coach Vince Doran. "We had good looks on the shots we took, but they just didn't drop for us."
With 3:11 left in the game, York trailed 54-51 following a free throw by Erik Cohn.
Stevenson's Jackson Qualley, the tournament MVP, hit 2 free throws. Then came 2 more free throws by Samvit Rams (13 points, 6 rebounds), and Stevenson had a little breathing room at 58-51 with 1:09 left.
"Matt's a good shooter and he has confidence when he's at the line," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "He's plays a lot outside being 6-foot-2 and he then can rebound inside. He just missed on a double double."
"There's no star player on this team," said Matt Ambrose. "We have to work together, play together and pitch in together. Winning the tournament was a nice accomplishment and it's a step in the right direction for us. We're happy with the win but we know that we have to keep working and get better."
Stevenson's Luke Cheing, also an all-tournament choice, scored 12 points on four 3s. Qualley added 11 points while Nick Bonk scored 7 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The Patriots out rebounded York 25-12.
Nick Kosich led the Dukes with 13 points and was named all-tournament.
"Nick had a real good tournament for us," Doran said. "He has played well coming back after a knee injury."
Mike Pedote came off the bench to score 10 points in key situations in the first and third quarters to keep York close, and Angelo Martucci scored 9 points.
"I am pleased by what this team brought to the table tonight and were rewarded." said Pat Ambrose. "We took a good first step in winning this tournament."