Stevenson bounces back to beat Maine West
It took two games, but Stevenson's boys basketball team just may have found its groove.
The Patriots, after a nervous overtime loss Tuesday to Hersey to open the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Tournament at Palatine, bounced back Wednesday night against a rugged Maine West team, pulling away late for a 62-47 win.
"We had opening-night jitters," said longtime Stevenson head coach Pat Ambrose, whose team survived a 3-point barrage from the Warriors (1-2) and benefitted from 15 turnovers by the opposition while committing five fewer themselves.
The Patriots turned a 42-36 lead after three quarters into their finishing bulge as guards Luke Chieng (game-high 16 points) and Matt Ambrose (12) controlled the tempo, Chieng scoring 5 fourth-quarter points on 3 free throws and a fast-break layup. Ambrose added a driving hoop and a jumper off the spread for a 12-point lead while running clock and looking to generate a clean shot.
"This game, we were moving the ball a lot better," Chieng said afterward of the offensive efficiency that included hitting 7-of-13 3-pointers in the first half, 3-of-5 himself.
As to the defensive end, "We just had more energy (than opening night). Our close outs were good," he said.
Ambrose couldn't agree more.
"We got that first night out of the way," he said. "We're pleased with we're at," at both ends of the floor.
Ambrose also got productive efforts from forward Matt Kaznikov, often outsized but rarely denied on the boards, and R.J. Holmes, whose 8 points were accompanied by 14 rebounds.
Maine West, coming off an impressive win over host Palatine the previous evening, was its own worst enemy, according to head coach Tom Prokopij.
"Stevenson is always sound. But we also shot ourselves in the foot with unforced turnovers and (surrendered) rebounds."
Stevenson's Holmes had an important putback in the third quarter and Kaznikov had a crucial one in the fourth to establish a double-digit lead.
Maine West guards Justin Scholler (9 points) and Jared Pearson (8), try as they would, just couldn't penetrate often enough to make a dent as the Warriors were forced to rely on their 3-point game, Dan Kentgen hitting 3-of-4 and Scholler 2-of-4.
No Warrior scored in double figures.