Stevenson tops Waukegan in OT

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/12/2019 11:57 PM
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  • Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov has the ball knocked free from his grasp while driving to the basket against Waukegan's Bryant Brown, left, and Jaylin Cunningham during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov has the ball knocked free from his grasp while driving to the basket against Waukegan's Bryant Brown, left, and Jaylin Cunningham during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's John Ittounas hits a shot from the corner during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Stevenson's John Ittounas hits a shot from the corner during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's John Ittounas drives to the basket against Waukegan's Kavon Colder during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Stevenson's John Ittounas drives to the basket against Waukegan's Kavon Colder during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Waukegan's Jordan Brown, right, steals the ball from Stevenson's Luke Chieng during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Waukegan's Jordan Brown, right, steals the ball from Stevenson's Luke Chieng during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Waukegan's Jaylin Cunningham, left, blocks a shot by Stevenson's Robert Holmes during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Waukegan's Jaylin Cunningham, left, blocks a shot by Stevenson's Robert Holmes during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Waukegan's Bryant Brown, left, and Stevenson's Robert Holmes dive to the floor for a loose ball during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Waukegan's Bryant Brown, left, and Stevenson's Robert Holmes dive to the floor for a loose ball during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Matthew Ambrose drives to the basket for a layup during Tuesday's game.

      Stevenson's Matthew Ambrose drives to the basket for a layup during Tuesday's game. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov grabs a rebound in front of Waukegan's Andre White Jr. during Tuesday's game in Waukegan.

      Stevenson's Matthew Kaznikov grabs a rebound in front of Waukegan's Andre White Jr. during Tuesday's game in Waukegan. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

RJ Holmes has come a long way and started showing that he's not just a junior for Stevenson's boys basketball team. Over this season, he's taken steps to show that he's playing more like a senior.

His efforts were taken to another level with a huge block in the final seconds in overtime, literally stopping Waukegan from a chance at tying the game as Stevenson went on to get past host Waukegan 49-45 in overtime of the North Suburban Conference matchup on Tuesday night.

Holmes contributed with 10 points and 12 rebounds along with his 3 blocked shots.

"I saw the turn of the shoulders and anticipated the layup," Holmes said. "I did what I usually do and blocked it. I knew I had the legs under me, because we've been working so hard in practice. My teammates were helping me out and it was on the scouting report. We've been playing this game for such a long time. When it comes down to the time and you're prepared for so long it gets simple like that."

Stevenson (22-3, 11-1) had a big lead in its first meeting with the Bulldogs about a month ago, only to see Waukegan (22-5, 9-2) make a game of it. But the Patriots pulled that game out at the end.

This time around it was a back-and-forth battle of runs until the Patriots were able to pull it out in the extra session, with thoughts of a third meeting that could happen a few weeks from now in the Waukegan sectional on the same court.

"This game means another road game in the conference this late in the season," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "They're all big and important now. We knew that if we tripped up against Lake Zurich, Mundelein or Libertyville the second time, it would be the same as losing to Waukegan. It puts us in the drivers seat with two games to go."

The Patriots have Warren left at home on Jalen Brunson Night Friday and a game with Lake Zurich while Waukegan has games left with Zion-Benton, Libertyville and Lake Zurich.

In the overtime, Matt Kaznikov hit a 3-pointer from the corner that put Stevenson up 45-43 with 2:30 left. Then on a Waukegan turnover, Matt Ambrose (game-high 13 points) stole a ball, went the length of the court and made a layup for a 47-43 lead with 30 seconds remaining.

Andre White Jr. cut the lead to 47-45 on a layup with 13.7 left on the clock. Stevenson had a chance to close out the game but missed a free throw with 10.8 left. Then the Holmes block happened followed by Ambrose sinking 2 free throws with .8 seconds to go. John Ittounas added 11 points for the Patriots.

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