Oak Park hands Stevenson its first loss

By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/14/2019 8:25 PM

Stevenson's boys basketball team started out with hot streaks in the first and third quarters Saturday afternoon. But the Patriots were unable to sustain the streaks and fell for the first time this season to Oak Park-River Forest 55-48 in the 12th Annual Team Rose Classic at Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago.

Stevenson started the game going up 10-0 on the now 4-3 Huskies.


Oak Park started to chip away and trailed only 15-12 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was a game changer. Oak Park began to disrupt the Patriots' offense in taking a 30-24 lead to the locker room at the halftime break. Stevenson was outscored 18-9 during the quarter.

"We had a nice fast start," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "But that second quarter was abysmal. We had moved the ball around and did some nice things but then we started turning the ball over a couple of times because their press got to us."

Stevenson scored the first 8 points of the third quarter to take a short-lived 32-30 lead with 5:08 left.

Oak Park's Isaiah Barnes then took charge for the Huskies.

The 6-foot-6 junior scored 12 of the Huskies' 14 points with a pair of 3-pointers, two other baskets and two free throws.

Matt Ambrose scored 5 of his team-high 16 points in the quarter but the Pats trailed 44-36.

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Struggling on offense the Patriots missed their first four shots of the fourth quarter. Oak Park took advantage of that with Barnes hitting a 3-pointer and Erick Locke scoring for a 49-36 lead. Barnes would finish with 21 points and 6 rebounds.

Barnes came up with a loose ball and scored, making it 53-41 and Stevenson could not recover.

"Coach told us to be aggressive on defense and we had to keep them out of the paint," said Barnes. "We had to pressure the ball and keep them out of their offense."

"It was a different type of challenge for us," said Matt Ambrose. "We've had good seasons and it was nice for us to be invited. We faced a team that presented different challenges from what we see in our league. Their quickness and their press showed us what we need to work on. We have to learn from this experience and not say, 'Oh well.' We relied to much on our outside shots."

Senior guard John Ittounas backed up Ambrose with 14 points. Evan Ambrose added 8 points.

"Our players were resilient today," said Oak Park coach Matt Maloney. "I think we did a good job in neutralizing them as best we could. We executed our game plan most of the time. I think we took them out of what they wanted to do. Isaiah is our best player thus far. His motor is nonstop. He was locked in tonight."

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