'Daddy's Boy' delivers for Stevenson in NSC showdown
If Stevenson junior Evan Ambrose wasn't having a rough enough fourth quarter, committing multiple turnovers and twice missing the front end of a 1-and-1 during a furious rally by Mundelein, the home team's student fans had a little fun at the expense of the little guard with boyish looks.
"Daddy's Boy, Daddy's Boy," Mundelein's fans chanted as Ambrose, the youngest son of Patriots coach Pat Ambrose, stood at the foul line with 1.7 seconds left and Stevenson trailing by one on Friday night.
"I give them props," Evan Ambrose said with a smile. "They come out for their team, for sure. At our last game [at Stevenson], they had two posters with my face on it and both said Daddy's Boy."
Mundelein's fans might have to admit Evan Ambrose is tougher than he looks -- and unflappable. He swished both free throws, and when the Mustangs' Jack Bikus' heave from three-quarters court hit the top of the backboard and caromed away, Ambrose and his teammates celebrated a 50-49 victory that gave the Patriots sole possession of first place in the North Suburban Conference.
Matthew Ambrose scored a team-high 19 points (4 of 5 from three-point range) for Stevenson, which defeated Mundelein for the second time in five weeks. The Patriots improved to 20-4 and 10-1 in the NSC with their fourth win in a row and ninth in 10 games.
Mundelein, which erased a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter, fell to 22-4 and 9-2 in the conference in seeing its six-game winning streak end.
"We just fought really hard and kept playing defense," said Mustangs center Scottie Ebube, who had 16 points, including a trio of two-handed dunks, and 7 rebounds. "We're used to being down [double digits] and coming back from that."
Mundelein point guard Conor Enright scored 8 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth. It looked like the junior might be the hero after his three-point play on a drive to the basket with 11 seconds left put the Mustangs up 49-48, giving them their first lead since a 3 by Trey Baker (8 points) made it 18-16 with 3:38 left in the opening half.
"Of course he's a skilled player, but really it's his motor," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said of Enright, who shot 6 of 11 from the floor (two 3-pointers) and 8 of 9 from the stripe. "We saw that as a freshman."
Not only did Evan Ambrose miss 2 free throws in the fourth, his teammate John Ittounas split a pair. Even Matthew Ambrose, one of the best foul shooters in the county, missed 3 free throws in the first quarter.
"We hold the ball [in the fourth] because we're normally such good free-throw shooters," Pat Ambrose said. "We were in the bonus early so they're going to foul us."
Ittounas' 3-pointer one minute into the fourth hiked Stevenson's lead to 45-30. Even after Enright drained a 3 to start the Mundelein comeback, Ittounas finished a reverse layup to put the Patriots up 47-33 with 5:58 left. Ebube scored on a post-up move to commence a 9-0 run, and the gym was buzzing.
By the time Evan Ambrose stepped to the stripe with less than two seconds on the clock, the noise was deafening.
"It's all about bouncing back," said Evan Ambrose, who fouled Enright just seconds earlier on the go-ahead three-point play. "(Assistant coach Paul) Swan always tells me to keep a clear head. Right before Enright scored on me, he said the next 2 are going in. I kept saying that to myself on the line."
Ittounas and RJ Holmes (7 rebounds) each had 8 points for the Patriots. Matt Kaznikov and Evan Ambrose finished with 7 and 6 points, respectively.
"We almost fell apart, and that was a little disappointing for us," Pat Ambrose said. "(Mundelein) hit some tough shots. Give them credit. They came out and let it go."
Evan Ambrose wasn't surprised.
"Mundy turns up the heat," he said. "They got some athletes over there, and it's definitely hard to handle the run and jump. A learning point for us, for sure."