Porto's big second half sparks Stevenson's OT triumph over Mundelein

 
By Bobby Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/11/2021 8:41 PM

Stevenson's Evan Porto struggled with most aspects of the game in the first half on Saturday.

The senior guard failed to score a point, and even had a pair of unsightly turnovers.

 

But Porto wasn't alone in his struggles.

The Patriots didn't score in the first quarter, with sophomore Christian Uremovich the only player capable of putting the ball in the basket. Uremovich scored all 8 of Stevenson's first half points.

Stevenson senior guard Jaden Evans, a prolific shooter, did not score a point in the game.

That typified the strangeness of the game, at least for the Patriots.

"The first half just didn't go our way, and (Mundelein) was grinding us every possession with one and two-minute possessions trying to get the best look they could," Porto said. "We went into the locker room, and a couple of guys were down, but we came out and knew it was going to be a battle from the start and just building stop by stop and bucket by bucket."

But Porto's offensive game came alive in the second half, scoring a game-high 23 points to lead the Patriots to a memorable 39-38 overtime victory over Mundelein in North Suburban Conference boys basketball action.

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Porto sparked the comeback with his hot shooting and aggressive driving, lifting up the energy of the large crowd to will the Patriots (6-2, 1-1) to their first conference win of the season. Porto made 4 3-pointers, tying the game for the first time with a 3-pointer and free throw for a 4-point play with 56.2 seconds left in regulation. Porto drilled another 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining in overtime to give the Patriots a 39-36 lead.

The Mustangs (6-2, 1-1) missed a chance to win the game on their final possession.

"Obviously, some people didn't have the best of days," Porto said. "Everyone was able to contribute in their own way. Jaden helped us push it through. It was a battle. I was hungry. The student sections were talking all game. My teammates were finding me. It just all fell into place. It was great to see what we can do when we play together with energy. We built it brick by brick. This was a big step for our team and our chemistry."

The Mustangs were hampered due to missing three key players, including 6-foot-6 center Chris Martin (ankle) and Omari Rhinehart. Senior Tyler Moenning led the Mustangs with 11 points, freshman point guard Derek Bishop added 8 points and Vinny Rogalski and Kevin Moyer both scored 7 points. The Mustangs hurt their own cause by enduring an 8:04 span of not scoring a field goal that spilled into overtime. The Mustangs made just 1 field goal in the last 8:55 after Moyer's 3-pointer gave them a 32-24 lead. The Mustangs also missed 7 free throws late in the game.

"I thought we had some resiliency with this group of guys," Mundelein coach Matt Badgley said. "They handled it well. We had a lot of inexperience playing in this game with three of our top seven guys out tonight. To battle a good team in a place like this, I'm proud of the guys.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was a battle. No matter the outcome, we got better. We had young inexperienced kids, so some of the mistakes come with that pressure."

Stevenson escaped with a big conference victory by clamping down on defense and getting contributions from several players. Porto scored all 5 of the Patriots' points in overtime.

"It was one of the weirdest, best and worst games that I've been a part of," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. "We fought and fought and Evan Porto bailed us out with some big shots. We fought back and wore them out. Some of their shots and free throws stopped falling. We can harvest some things from this game we can grow or progress from. This is hopefully a building block game for us."

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