Stevenson rolls by Elk Grove
Stevenson's boys basketball team showed that it is ready for the season to start. Really ready.
Led by senior RJ Holmes' 25 points, the veteran Patriots showed their balance with four players in double figures and scored a 71-40 victory over Elk Grove Tuesday in the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic at Palatine.
Both teams return to the court Wednesday, Stevenson facing Jacobs at 5 p.m. and Elk Grove battling host Palatine immediately after.
Stevenson established dominance early, scoring the first 10 points and keeping the Grens at bay most of the way.
A late 5-2 spurt to end the first quarter, followed by an 8-3 start in the second helped Elk Grove cut Stevenson's lead to 24-13, but Holmes took things into his own hands by scoring 11 straight points including a spectacular alley-oop dunk with the assist going to Evan Ambrose (10 points). Holmes scored 17 of his game-high total in the first half.
"Me and Evan have been talking about the alley-oop for so long, and it was so great to be able to finish it," Holmes said.
Stevenson led 40-19 at halftime and 60-31 after three quarters.
"This is a tough group of guys," Holmes said. "We've been playing together for a long time. We want to concentrate on playing really tight defense and playing together. We've been preparing for this day since summer."
"Defensively, a couple of times we made them shoot jump shots," Pat Ambrose said. "The second quarter wasn't good, but after that we were pretty good."
"We just wanted to compete for 32 minutes," Elk Grove coach Nick Oraham said. "They went out (20-2) right out of the gate, and then we cut it to 10. Then they ended the half on a (15-4) run.
"There were too many peaks and valleys, and our valleys were really low tonight."
Matt Ambrose scored 14 points for the Patriots, and John Ittounas 11.
"We have a lot of weapons, especially with Matt Ambrose and Johnny (Ittounas)," Holmes said. "On offense we try to figure out who has the hot hand, and tonight I did."
"RJ was tough," Pat Ambrose said. "He's very gifted. We're looking for a lot out of RJ."
"I was just telling their assistants (after the game), 'He's gotten really good,' " Oraham said. "Looking at film from last year, we didn't think we was all that good of a shooter. We were playing off him, and he hits two 3s tonight.
"He's got good post moves and is athletic. He's a good player."
While Elk Grove struggled to stay close to Stevenson, the Grens showed balance, with everyone who played prior to the benches clearing late in the game getting into the scoring column.
Devin McKinney led Elk Grove with 10 points, Jordan Miller came off the bench to score 8, and Brandon Burns added 7.
"I thought Mauro (Garay) played well tonight, and Jordan played hard," Oraham said. "We've got to get a little more out of Mark (Matos) and Brandon for us to get where we want to go this year."