Stevenson comes back to down Libertyville
It's a good trivia question.
When was the last time the Stevenson boys basketball did not score a field goal in the opening quarter?
"It had to be pre- (Jalen) Brunson,'' noted Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "We really struggled in that first half. Libertyville played tough defense but 12 points at halftime?"
Stevenson was the favorite coming into the North Suburban Conference matchup with rival Libertyville on Saturday.
The Wildcats still held a comfortable 35-24 lead late in the third quarter. And then the Pats caught fire. Three-pointers started falling for Stevenson. Libertyville did not hit a field goal for 10 minutes. The Pats (18-3) came all the way back to beat the Cats 46-42.
Stevenson junior guard, John Ittounas had half of his team's 12 points at halftime. He had another 12 points in the third quarter. He led all scorers with 18 points.
"We started playing loose,'' Ittounas said. "My teammates started feeding me the ball. And we turned up our defense, too."
Libertyville, again played without the services of injured Brian Witerdink but again led for most of this game.
"We started doing the little things right,'' said Libertyville coach, Brian Zyrkowski. "I was pleased that we fought hard. I told the kids to remember this situation."
Stevenson (18-3, 8-1) had a strong second half from 6-foot-5 Robert Holmes. He scored all of his 10 points in the second half and seemed to specialize in reverse layups.
"Coach (Paul) Swan said it best -- we needed to work hard to get back in the game,'' Holmes said. "We started focusing on our defense. I like to be vocal out there and get my rebounds and loose balls."
Ittounas went on a personal 7-point run to cut the Cats' double-digit lead to 35-31 entering the fourth quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Luke Chieng and Matthew Ambrose gave the Pats their first lead of the game.
"It's February and everyone has the scouting reports deep,'' said coach Ambrose. "And it helped that we bottled up (Josh) Steinhaus."
Steinhaus' second 3-pointer of the game gave the Wildcats an improbable 15-6 lead in the second quarter. Steinhaus had 12 points for the game. Two of his free throws cut the Stevenson lead to 1 point at 39-38.
"We really have a positive team,'' Ittounas continued. "We lost a lot of players from last year. It was also a good thing that we were on our home floor tonight."
Patrick Graham led the Cats with 13 points. He added 6 rebounds.