Chieng is good as Patriots beat Mustangs
More of a facilitator than a face-and-shoot player last season, Stevenson senior guard Luke Chieng has a new role.
Which started about three weeks ago.
And Chieng has embraced change.
Stevenson played its seventh game in a row without junior Matthew Ambrose (broken finger) on Friday night when the Patriots visited Mundelein, and for the second game in a row Chieng set a career high. His 24 points, thanks to torrid outside shooting, led Stevenson to a 50-45 win in North Suburban Conference action.
"He was hitting some tough shots," coach Pat Ambrose said after his Patriots improved to 9-2 and 3-1 in the NSC with their fourth win in a row. "It was awful good because he's a senior guard and he's capable of it. And without Matthew, our outside shooting is a little less."
Coming off a 22-point effort against Prospect last Saturday night, Chieng came out firing and hitting. He never cooled off, although he managed only 1 shot in the fourth quarter and didn't score. He opened the game with a 3-pointer, followed by hitting a shot with a foot on the arc and then buried another 3 to give Stevenson an 8-4 lead with still 5:33 left in the opening quarter.
"I just had a lot of confidence today, coming off a good game against Prospect, shooting," Chieng said. "I knew I had to hold my follow-through. When I saw an open shot, I took it, and good thing it went in."
Chieng finished 9 of 12 from the floor, including 5 of 6 from three-point range. With Ambrose out the lineup until likely early January, Pat Ambrose said of his son, Chieng knows his team needs him to score.
"Coming in with all my experience (from last season), I know what's a good shot to take in our offense and what good shots we can get against teams," Chieng said. "Stepping into that scoring role with Matt gone, I know that I can make these jump shots like I did today, and I can exert myself a little more taking it the basket."
Mundelein fell to 6-5 and 1-3 in the NSC with its third loss in its last four games. The Mustangs' other two conference losses were by 2 points to Zion-Benton and 10 points to Waukegan.
"I think we're missing starting the game and finishing it well," said Mundelein's 6-foot-8 center Scottie Ebube, who had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
Chieng scored all of Stevenson's points in the opening quarter, but Mundelein took a 16-10 lead into the second, only to miss all 8 of its shots in the quarter. The Mustangs didn't score until point guard Conor Enright sank 2 free throws with 25 seconds left before halftime.
Like all of his teammates, Enright struggled from the floor, as his 2-of-14 showing was part of a 29-percent shooting (13 of 45) performance by the Mustangs, who trailed 24-18 at the half. Chieng scored 9 more points (two 3s) in the third, as the Patriots extended their lead to 38-28.
Enright, who picked up 2 fouls in the first four minutes of the game and went to the bench, finished with a team-high 12 points, going 8 of 8 from the line.
"I thought we ran stuff with (Stevenson), we battled with them, and we certainly were tough as a team tonight," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. "But they hit their shots and we didn't. That was the big difference."
Mundelein kept the fourth quarter tight, getting as close as 48-45 down the stretch, but sophomore Evan Ambrose (7 points off the bench in his second varsity game) hit 2 free throws with 5.9 seconds left to finish it off for Stevenson.
Mundelein also got 11 points from Andrew Gonzalez, but three Mustangs in double figures weren't enough to offset Chieng's performance.
"The Chieng kid is almost automatic," Badgley said. "We put a kid (Christian Diaz) off the bench on him, and he did really well on him. But sometimes if you can't get a dead ball in there and (Chieng) can get a couple of possessions, those are a couple of makes for him. He's a really good shooter."