Lake County All-Area Boys Basketball Team
Matthew Ambrose Stevenson
The heart-and-soul player and coach's kid opened the season by scoring 22 points, then suffered a broken finger in the Patriots' fourth game. When he returned after missing 11 games, the Patriots picked up steam. They won their next 11 games, extending their winning streak from 3 games to 14, often riding the shooting and energy of their 6-foot-3 junior guard. Ambrose poured in a season-high 26 points against Mundelein and notched, in total, 5 games of 20-plus points, helping the Patriots earn a share of the North Suburban Conference championship as well as Class 4A regional and sectional titles. Fearless, with range from well beyond the arc, he brought experience as a second-year starter and "headiness" to the team, Patriots coach Pat Ambrose said of his son, who served as a team captain and was named All-NSC. The coach acknowledged his kid can "really shoot it," and here's proof: Heading into the Patriots' supersectional game against Evanston, Ambrose was shooting 45.2 percent (56 of 124) from three-point range. He was also shooting 93.6 percent (44 of 47) from the foul line, while averaging a team-leading 14.3 points to go along with 3.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game.
Donovan Carter Wauconda
A midseason switch to wearing sports goggles on the court didn't hinder the junior wing's ability to focus. Note his seven efforts of 20-plus points in January and February. Included were games of 32, 31 and 30 points. A returning All-Area player, the 6-foot-3 Carter poured in a career-high 36 points in the Bulldogs' season opener against Johnsburg. For the season, he averaged 17.3 points to go along with 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 assists per game. He shot 48.1 percent from the floor (34.7 percent from three-point range) and 83.8 percent from the stripe, and was named All-Northern Lake County Conference Second Team. "Donovan, no matter the situation, was calm, cool and collective," said coach Scott Luetschwager, whose Bulldogs won 15 games. "Nothing really bothers him. He just goes out there and plays. All of his shots come through the offense, and he doesn't force shots. Usually when you have a player scoring in the high teens or above, they tend to be a bit of a black hole. Donovan had a great season, scoring 502 points, while being a great teammate. He passed up good shots because a teammate had a better shot."
Brad Cherry Lakes
Sure, there were " Cherry bombs," but the 6-foot-2 senior wing sparked the Eagles by more than just making long-range jumpers. He made baskets from all over the court, including on the wings, in the lane and on the baseline. A repeat All-Area selection and three-year varsity player, he averaged 17 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game. The Eagles won only eight games this season, but half of them came in February, a month in which Cherry had five games of 22 or more points. "Brad was our MVP this year," Eagles coach Chris Snyder said. "There were several games where he carried us. Brad was a versatile player for us and played the guard and forward spots and was great in both spots. He was willing to do whatever we needed and always had the success of the team first on his mind." Cherry poured in a career-high 33 points in a January victory over Round Lake and posted 25 points and 10 boards to lead the Eagles past Northern Lake County Conference champ Grant. He was named All-NLCC Second Team. "Brad's a great kid who loves basketball," Snyder said, "and one we'll miss in our program."
Luke Chieng Stevenson
When the Patriots lost shooter Matthew Ambrose to an injury early in the season, they needed someone to pick up the offensive load. Chieng, a returning starter, took charge. In the 11 games that Ambrose missed due to a broken finger, Chieng produced a par of 22-point efforts and a career-high 24 points against Mundelein. Chieng's scoring dropped off when Ambrose returned, but he still provided a veteran presence and "headiness" to the team, coach Pat Ambrose said. The 6-foot Chieng was the Patriots' only senior starter. His ballhandling and long-range shooting helped lead the Patriots to a share of the North Suburban Conference championship and their first sectional championship since 2015, when another skilled point guard (Jalen Brunson) led Stevenson to the Class 4A state championship. Heading into the Patriots' supersectional game against Evanston, Chieng, an All-NSC selection, was averaging 9.7 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while shooting 35.7 percent (51 of 143) from three-point range.
J.R. Cison Lake Zurich
Given a chance to be the go-to player, while also running the offense after the defending Class 4A sectional champs graduated a strong group, the senior responded. Cison, who started on varsity for St. Viator as a sophomore before transferring to Lake Zurich, averaged 18 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals per game. He was all-tournament at Richmond-Burton (Thanksgiving), Pekin (Christmas) and Lake Zurich (MLK). He also earned the Mr. Hustle award at the prestigious Pekin tourney and was named All-North Suburban Conference. He scored a career-high 32 points in the Bears' season opener at Richmond-Burton against eventual tourney champ Crystal Lake South. He shot 78 percent from the free-throw line and 43 percent from the floor. "J.R. drew a lot of attention from opposing teams this year and was often double-teamed to get the ball out of his hands," Bears coach Terry Coughlin said. "He was a security blanket for our group handling the basketball and getting us into our offense. His on-ball defense put pressure on the opposition's point guard every game."
Ryan Connolly Grayslake North
The 6-foot-2 wing set multiple school scoring records, including points in a game (46), points in a season (678) and career points (1,525) -- and he's not done with high school basketball. A varsity starter since his freshman season, Connolly is the All-Area Captain after putting together a monster campaign against what Knights coach Todd Grunloh called "the most challenging schedule that our program has ever played." Connolly, whose athleticism and explosiveness led to many highlight-reel dunks, averaged 22.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in helping the Knights go 17-13. A repeat All-Area selection, he was named All-NLCC First Team. Grunloh said an NLCC coach told him teams can create specific game plans to try to shut Connolly down but are not going to do that because he can score in so many different ways. "Ryan is a perfectionist that is obsessed with improving and fine-tuning his craft," Grunloh said. "He is a tireless worker that often leaves the gym to go to another gym to get more reps in."
Antonio Crews Grayslake Central
Built like a linebacker, Crews hit (shots) and punished opponents. The 6-foot-1 senior led the Rams in scoring (14 ppg) and was second in rebounding (5.4), while also averaging 3.4 assists per game. He scored a career-high 29 points against Grayslake North. A three-year varsity player, he started at point guard the last two seasons. "Antonio is a scoring point guard that is a matchup problem for most guards given his physical strength and skill set," Rams coach Kosta Kougias said. "He can score back to the basket, knock down 3s and drives north/south, while finishing at the rim." The team captain was named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team.
Scottie Ebube Mundelein
Few players were more physically imposing than the powerfully built, 6-foot-8 sophomore who could explode to the rim. Ebube emerged in his second season on varsity, averaging a double-double (team-leading 17.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game). He was named all-tournament over Thanksgiving (Mundelein) and Christmas (Carbondale) and was named All-North Suburban Conference Honorable Mention. "Pure, natural talent," Mustangs coach Matt Badgley said. "He brought an ability to feel our misses had a great chance of being rebounded. As our leading scorer, we recognized few were able to guard him and worked to have him involved in every offensive possession. Other teams realized it too, as he went to the foul line over 200 times."
Conor Enright Mundelein
All was right when the ball was in the hands of Enright. Which was often. After putting together a strong freshman campaign as a varsity starter last season, the 6-foot-2 point guard took his game to an even higher level. He directed the Mustangs to 20 wins, averaging 15.5 points, 5.1 assists and 5 rebounds per game. He was named all-tournament at Mundelein (Thanksgiving), Carbondale (Christmas) and Lake Zurich (MLK). He was also selected to the All-North Suburban Conference team. He produced a pair of 25-point efforts. "Conor brings an endless motor with a focus on winning," Mustangs coach Matt Badgley said. "Few high school players have his competitiveness, and fewer have it as sophomores. We relied on him to handle the ball, score, defend and distribute. We relied on a sophomore for essentially everything, and he handled it well."
Dan Filippone Antioch
The 6-foot Filippone was flashy, fearless, full of energy and fun to watch. The four-year varsity guard and repeat All-Area selection averaged a career-best 23.1 points per game, shooting 42.2 percent from the floor and 78.7 percent from the foul line. His 626 points gave him a school-record 1,650 for his career. He scored a season-high 35 points against North Chicago and had four 34-point efforts, as well. An All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team selection, the point guard also averaged 4 rebounds per game. "As the team's point guard, Dan was a one-man press break," Sequoits coach Jim White said. "He was strong with the ball under all circumstances and never got flustered under intense pressure. Dan's raw emotion on the floor was contagious, and the team showed a collective competitive spirit that was second to none."
Ryan Jacobson Vernon Hills
The 6-foot-4 junior forward/guard brought versatility and the ability to score -- even dunk -- in his first varsity season. He averaged 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and drained a team-leading 41 3-pointers. "He can play a couple different positions for us, which helps with our flexibility on offense," Cougars coach Matt McCarty said. Jacobson played some emergency point guard early in the season when starter Joey Levitan went down with an injury. "He is an exceptional athlete that has outstanding jumping ability," said McCarty, noting Jacobson's 6 dunks and numerous chase-down blocks. McCarty felt one of Jacobson's best games of the season was an overtime loss to Maine East when he scored 24 points, had 7 rebounds and played a "great defensive game on 1,000-point scorer Ali Sabet. "I firmly believe Ryan will be a great leader for us this off-season," McCarty said, "and we look forward to getting back into the gym with him and his teammates this summer."
Henry Kusiak Grant
The 6-foot-1 senior guard did a little bit of everything, which led to something big -- the outright Northern Lake County Conference championship for the Bulldogs. A second-year starter and team captain, Kusiak "filled up the stat columns," coach Wayne Bosworth said, as he averaged 12 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.9 steals per game, while shooting 41 percent from three-point range. Kusiak was an all-tournament selection in the Grant Thanksgiving Tournament and was named All-NLCC First Team. He had high games of 26 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. His double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) helped Grant beat Wauconda to clinch a share of the conference title.
Johnny Roeser Carmel Catholic
Few players have made a bigger impact on Carmel basketball than the 6-foot-5 senior forward/guard. He capped off his four-year varsity career by averaging a career-best 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game, leading the Corsairs to a 22-12 record and berth in the Class 3A Grayslake Central sectional. Roeser finished his career, which included 111 starts, with 1,526 points (second in school history), 683 rebounds, 129 blocks, 263 assists and 135 steals. He scored 26 and 24 points, respectively, in key East Suburban Catholic Conference wins over Benet Academy and Marist. The repeat All-Area and All-ESCC selection has not committed to a college. "He's the gold standard for this program for everything he's done the last four years," Corsairs coach Zack Ryan said. "If you were to draw a picture of the Carmel basketball player/student-athlete person, it would be him. He's such a great kid, and he's going to catch on somewhere at a school that is going to be really lucky to get him."
Adnan Sarancic Warren
The 6-foot-4 junior forward started on a varsity last season but took advantage of increased opportunities offensively this season. Sarancic's breakout season saw him average 16 points and 7 rebounds per game. He could score inside and outside, in half-court sets and in transition. He shot 39 percent from three-point range and 52 percent overall. He poured in a career-high 29 points against Waukegan and was named All-North Suburban Conference. "Adnan was a very consistent player for us this year," said coach Jon Jasnoch, whose Blue Devils won 16 games. "Adnan is very skilled basketball player. He's got the size and strength to compete inside and can handle the ball well, especially in the open court. His ability to shoot from the outside realty helped our team because teams had to respect his ability to shoot from the perimeter, and that opened up the inside."
Josh Steinhaus Libertyville
Steihhaus helped the Wildcats rally from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Conant in overtime of the Deerfield regional final last year. This season, he flashed more of the same resiliency and basketball skill. The senior point guard averaged 17 points, 4 assists and 2 steals per game in an All-North Suburban Conference campaign. He shot 91 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from three-point range. He poured in a career-high 32 points, playing all 44 minutes, in a triple-overtime win over Hersey. "Josh is one of the hardest-working players on and off the floor," Wildcats coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "His conditioning and determination have put him as one of the top players in the NSC and area." Steinhaus averaged 31 minutes per game, handling the ball and guarding the other team's point guard. "To be able to do this and play at a high level is something you do not see from players at the high school level, even collegiate," Zyrkowski said. "Josh's ability to handle the basketball, create his own shot and find his teammates for shots, at 5 feet 10, make him a fun player to watch. He has deep range, which makes him even that much more of a threat. I have had the privilege of coaching Josh for all four years (two on varsity) he was in high school. Josh will leave behind a new standard of what work ethic is really all about. I am proud of all of his accomplishments, his leadership, servitude and, most of all, the young man he has become as a student-athlete at LHS."
Hunter Waszkowski Grant
The Bulldogs expected the 6-foot-3 senior guard to contribute as a veteran on an experienced squad, but they might have been pleasantly surprised by his production. Grant coach Wayne Bosworth called Waszkowski "one of the most improved players in the area this season." Waszkowski averaged 12 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 assists per game, while shooting 37 percent from three-point range. He scored a season-high 20 points against Wauconda, had an 11-rebound effort, and was an all-tournament selection in both the Grant Thanksgiving Tournament and the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs. He was named All-Northern Lake County Conference Second Team. Bosworth said Waszkowski was a "huge piece of the puzzle" and a "very consistent performer" in helping the Bulldogs win the NLCC championship.
Hakim Williams Round Lake
Williams, a transfer from Clinton, Iowa was just what the Panthers' struggling program needed, as he averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. And the sophomore got only better as his first varsity season wound down. "Hakim is a well-rounded player, which is clearly reflected in his statistics," said first-year coach Jay Iden, whose Panthers won nine games after winning just seven in the last three seasons. Over the Panthers' final 10 games, the 6-foot-3 forward averaged 23 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals per game. He finished the season with 535 points and 16 double-doubles, and was named All-Northern Lake County Conference Second Team. "While Hakim's statistics were impressive, they should not overshadow his greatest contribution as a leader that the entire team rallied around and depended on," Iden said. "As his Coach, I have been most impressed with Hakim's self-discipline, positive attitude, competitive nature, humility and unique leadership style. Hakim's ceiling is very high, and I look forward to seeing what he and his teammates are going to accomplish over the next two years at Round Lake High School."
Kimahri Wilson Carmel Catholic
An All-Area player last season as a freshman, the point guard opened the season with a pair of 30-point efforts in the Corsairs' first four games. Included was a career-high 36 points against North Lawndale, as Carmel won the Grant tournament. Wilson was named tourney MVP. He later found himself briefly in the role of the sixth man but never complained. He just kept producing and helping his team win games. Wilson averaged 16.5 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game, as the Corsairs won 22 games and a Class 3A regional championship. He was named to the All-East Suburban Catholic Conference team. "Kimahri is a special basketball player," Carmel coach Zack Ryan said. "He has a high basketball IQ and is extremely quick and athletic. Kimahri's biggest improvement this year was his three-point shooting (42.6 percent). My expectation for him is to take over our team as a leader the next two years. If he does that, the sky is the limit for Kimahri Wilson." Wilson has offers from Southern Illinois and UIC.
Nick Bulgarelli (Wauconda So. F), Torren Curry (Grant Sr. G), Juan DelaCruz (Warren Jr. F), Jack Gillespie (Antioch Sr. F), Grant Hardy (Grayslake Central Jr. F), Tony Hines (Grayslake North So. G), R.J. Holmes (Stevenson Jr. F), John Ittounas (Stevenson Jr. G), Joey Levitan (Vernon Hills Sr. G), Coby Moe (Grayslake Central Sr. F), Will Tucker (Lake Zurich Jr. G), Jackson Watson (Libertyville Jr. G), Damone Williams-Gray (Carmel Catholic Sr. F)