Home at last, Stevenson takes it to Libertyville
Stevenson enjoyed coming home and finally getting a chance to play on its home floor. The Patriots started the season playing five games on the road in the Palatine tournament and a then trip to Chicago against Westinghouse.
Stevenson had balanced scoring and defense behind it in getting past Libertyville 70-44 in the North Suburban Conference boys basketball opener in Lincolnshire on Tuesday night.
Matt Kaznikov led the way for the Patriots (6-0, 1-0) with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. RJ Holmes added 14 points and 6 rebounds, Evan Ambrose 11 points and Matt Ambrose chipped in with 9.
The Wildcats were led by sophomore Chase Bonder with 15 points off the bench, but they played without one of their key starters as Blake Ellingson was out with an illness.
Kaznikov is no stranger shooting the 3-pointer as he had a game like this one against Waukegan last year.
"The shots were falling, it was exciting to see with the whole crowd and the whole team, it was just come and go," Kaznikov said. "It's been a while. I do live by the corner 3s. I do work on that a lot in practice. I'm not afraid to put that into the game because I'm capable of making them."
Stevenson came out quickly scoring the first 12 points before Libertyville (5-2, 0-1) got on the board and the Pats led 16-8 after the first eight minutes. They added defensive pressure and extended the lead to 30-17 by the halftime break.
"We were kind of ready for (Libertyville)," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "It was our home opener and our first game in conference. We played a lot of road games and wanted to show ourselves to the fans being a new product. We defended pretty well, while they played without Blake Ellingson and that hurt them a little bit. I thought we were ready for them. Libertyville is a good team and they had won four in a row. We didn't take them lightly, they are a shooting team and a smart team."
Stevenson had its shooting going its way, going 31 of 52 from the field for 60 percent and 8 of 14 for 57 percent from behind the arc.
Libertyville couldn't mount a comeback in the second half but still battled hard in staying with Stevenson.
"There's no excuses. (Stevenson) was very good tonight and hats off to Kaznikov, he hit some huge shots," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said. "They played well and they're a good team. You can't take away anything from this team. Anything you give them, they will take it and tonight was their night. They outplayed us Our guys know that they didn't play their best, but we were outplayed. That's why you play basketball. You have to bounce back."