Stevenson handles St. Charles North
It would have been natural for Stevenson to underestimate a boys basketball team with a losing record like St. Charles North, but that is not how the Patriots roll.
Junior guard Matthew Ambrose and his Stevenson teammates saw on film how well the North Stars played over the December break against top competition like Danville, Simeon and New Trier.
Thus, the Patriots made a conscious effort to buckle down defensively throughout a 51-38 victory at the inaugural Geneva MLK Classic Monday.
"We knew going into this game that we couldn't take them lightly, that we can't look at their record because that's not how good they are," said Ambrose, who led all scorers with 13 points. "They were right there with those teams."
St. Charles North (7-11) was right there with Stevenson (15-3), too. The Patriots led 29-23 at halftime. Their lead expanded as the North Suburban Conference co-leaders held the North Stars to 6 third-quarter points and 9 in the fourth.
Stevenson senior guard Luke Chieng and junior guard John Ittounas limited St. Charles North guard Luke Scheffers to 10 points. Meanwhile, Stevenson junior R.J. Holmes held 6-foot-9 junior Connor Linke to 9.
North senior guard Lucas Heflen scored 9 first-quarter points but was held scoreless thereafter.
"Scheffers and Linke are really good players, so we tried to take them away," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "I think we let (Heflen) get a little too loose for my liking and those guys eventually got their points, but to hold a good team like that in the thirties is pretty good."
St. Charles North's reputation for playing well against top competition took a hit in the lackluster defeat. It was North's third loss in four games.
"We looked like we'd rather be home in bed playing video games," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said. "We didn't take this opportunity for what it was. This was an opportunity to play a very good program, a good team in a setting like this where you're asked to be here. You need to come out and really compete to win and do everything you can mentally and physically and we didn't do that. I need to figure that out, where the spirit was."
Poulin won't be the only North Star reflecting.
"We have to contemplate what we did right and build on the positives for the next game," Linke said. "Then see the negatives and see how we can improve on those from here on in. We're in the second half of the season now and we really have to step up."
Holmes scored 11 points, 9 in the first quarter as Stevenson jumped to an 18-13 lead.