Libertyville sneaks past Stevenson

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/4/2018 10:23 PM
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  • Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus gestures after hitting a 3-pointer during their game against Stevenson Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus gestures after hitting a 3-pointer during their game against Stevenson Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's RJ Holmes (23) drives on Libertyville's Patrick Graham during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Stevenson's RJ Holmes (23) drives on Libertyville's Patrick Graham during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus left, drives on Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus left, drives on Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Travis Clark, top, and Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Travis Clark, top, and Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Brian Wilterdink (2) and Stevenson's John Ittounas battle for a rebound during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Brian Wilterdink (2) and Stevenson's John Ittounas battle for a rebound during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Travis Clark, bottom, and Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov scramble for a loose ball during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Travis Clark, bottom, and Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov scramble for a loose ball during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus, left, pulls down a rebound over Stevenson's Ethan Kolesky during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus, left, pulls down a rebound over Stevenson's Ethan Kolesky during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov shoots during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov shoots during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus reacts after getting called for a foul during their game against Stevenson Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Libertyville's Josh Steinhaus reacts after getting called for a foul during their game against Stevenson Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Luke Chieng shoots during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville.

      Stevenson's Luke Chieng shoots during their game Tuesday night in Libertyville. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

If this was the North Suburban Conference boys basketball opener between Stevenson and Libertyville, there's a long way to go in the conference season ahead.

It was an intense battle throughout the contest, in which the Patriots had the shooting touch and a narrow lead until the fourth quarter. That's when the claws of the Wildcats' defense took over and outscored the Patriots 18-8.

Libertyville pulled away with a 49-42 victory over visiting Stevenson on Tuesday night.

With the victory, the Wildcats have now have won three straight after opening the season with four straight losses, while Stevenson dropped to 5-2 after it just beat Westinghouse at home Saturday night.

"Any game with Stevenson, is going to be a battle," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "Pat Ambrose is a great coach and that team is always playing hard. In that quarter, it's always that crazy play that turns things around for the both of us. (Stevenson) was short Matt Ambrose and he's a heck of a player. We wish him the best and to get healthy quick. I thought our guys fought well, we were down at half and we wanted to keep plugging away. These types of games are dogfights. I still say that first tournament prepares us for games like these to come out in the fourth quarter and compete."

Josh Steinhaus led the Wildcats with a career-high 27 points which included going 10-for-10 from the free throw line, and Travis Clark added 9.

The biggest difference happened after the third quarter.

Stevenson held a 34-31 advantage but Libertyville scored 10 unanswered points to take over the game.

Jackson Watson scored his only 5 points of the contest, first by knocking down a trey tying the game at 34-34 with 6:30 left. Clark followed with a jump shot on the next possession for the lead at 36-34 at the four-minute mark. Then, Watson hit a 12-foot jumper followed by Steinhaus dropping down a 3-pointer for a 41-34 lead with 1:55 left.

"In the first half, I couldn't get it going with my shots," Watson said. "But I stepped up and made some shots at the end of the game. I just started playing with some confidence. I think during the game, if you're missing shots, you can't let that get to you. You just have to continue to play. You just have to be confident to play. I was just focused when I made the shots."

Stevenson couldn't pull closer the rest of the way.

"It was a good battle. (Libertyville) played well and hit some big shots at the end," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "It was their home court and good for them. We had a lead and we just didn't seem to build on it enough. That's because they wouldn't let us run away. They tied us and hit some big shots. We kind of went cold and struggled a little bit with some shots."

The Patriots were led by Luke Chieng with 15 points and Matthew Kaznikov added 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Stevenson had controlled the game for most of the first three quarters. The Pats led 6-5 after the first and 24-20 at the break. .

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