Home at last, but Stevenson falls to Waukegan in OT
It wasn't the end result that Stevenson wanted.
But the means to that end sure was fun.
All season long, the Stevenson boys and girls basketball teams have had to hit the road for home games. Their main gym has been used as a COVID-19 vaccination site for the Lake County Health Department. So they've played their home games at local middle schools in the district.
But on Tuesday night, the Stevenson administration managed to temporarily clean out the gym so that the boys varsity team could stage its Senior Night on its own floor. The girls get their own night there as well.
"It's so good to be back here and everybody did such a good job setting up for Senior Night," Stevenson senior guard Andrew Chieng said. "It was really fun. But obviously not the outcome we expected."
While the festivities and the locale suited the Patriots just right, the game itself didn't fit the script.
Waukegan had a lot to do with that.
It took overtime, but Waukegan hit enough shots down the stretch to spoil Stevenson's Senior Night in Lincolnshire with a 52-46 win. It was the Bulldogs' first win of the season. Hampered by various COVID challenges, they have played only three games and are now 1-2.
Stevenson drops to 5-3.
"We played together as a team. We just stuck together," Waukegan senior forward Amari Leflore said. "We didn't go away from what we were doing and what was working. This has been a work in progress the whole year and we keep getting better."
Leflore finished with a game-high 18 points, including 13 points in the first half to give the Bulldogs some early momentum and a 19-16 lead at halftime.
Stevenson held a 29-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter but some big 3-pointers got Waukegan right back in it, and a 3-pointer by Kaden Chapa with about 30 seconds left tied the game at 35-35.
Stevenson senior guard Evan Ambrose had a shot at the rim as time expired and the ball circled around the rim, but fell out, forcing overtime.
In the overtime, the Bulldogs began with back-to-back 3-pointers from Malachi Reddick (10 points) and Lawrence Harris that provided a lead that they would never relinquish. They also hit seven free throws to seal the deal.
"The back-to-back threes were big," Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw said. "And we were disruptive enough to keep them somewhat off-balance."
Stevenson, which got a team-high 14 points from senior Darius Clemons, committed three costly turnovers in the overtime session and made just 2-of-8 shots.
"It was disappointing for us," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a lot and didn't shoot real well and let them kind of grind us. Credit to Waukegan. They played real well."