Libertyville downs Stevenson for NSC tourney title
Senior Blake Ellingson watched others over the years on the court and it turned out to be his time to take on a role like he does as a quarterback on the football field.
Fourth-seeded Libertyville surprised No. 3 seed Stevenson 53-43 in the North Suburban Conference boys basketball tournament championship game on Friday night at Woodlawn Middle School in Long Grove.
Ellingson was a big part of the third quarter with 7 of his 10 points that brought the Wildcats back for a big run in the fourth quarter.
In another week, Ellingson returns to his role leading Libertyville in football.
"It meant everything right there," Ellingson said. "We made a big run to win that game against a good (Stevenson) team. We just executed and it feels good right now. It just came to me. Our team does a good job of moving the ball around. Things went very well for us. It's huge to win the conference tournament and the first one ever and great to bring home the first one."
Libertyville (10-7) was down 28-23 when the Wildcats closed the third quarter with a 14-6 run for a 37-34 lead.
Senior Tyler Brne, coming off the bench, hit a timely 3-pointer late in the third, as the Wildcats took the lead for good and followed up with another one early in the final quarter for a 6-point advantage.
"I just wanted to shoot the ball with confidence and it's something that we work on," Brne said. "Trust the other guys and they trust me. I just got the shots down and it was totally awesome. I was just trying to go with the next play and focus on the rest of the game."
Libertyville didn't let up from there by extending the lead out to double-digits down the stretch,
Marc Michelotti scored 8 of his 13 points with 6 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Chase Bonder lead the Wildcats with a game-high 14 points.
"Being a champion is a little different this year under these circumstances," Libertyville coach Bryan Zyrkowski said. "This is our only state tournament. We didn't get an opportunity to play Mundelein (Tuesday). But having another chance to play in another game, especially against (Stevenson) that had turned the corner this year after that Waukegan loss. They were playing the best basketball in this conference.
"Coming into this one, we knew it was going to be a challenge, because of their aggressiveness, possessions and they get great shots. It came down in the second half of knocking down free throws and getting those rebounds."
Stevenson (12-4) had its 7-game winning steak snapped but still had a successful run this season.
"I'm just incredibly proud of these kids," said Stevenson assistant coach Chandler Livingston Simon, who filled in for head coach Pat Ambrose. "They came together through this whole COVID thing and with coach Ambrose stepping away. They came together more as a team and as a family like a unit."
Jaison Williams lead the Patriots with 9 points.