Libertyville knocks off Stevenson in NSC showdown

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comLibertyville's Chase Bonder (25) goes up for a shot pressured by Stevenson's Christian Uremovich (11) during Friday's game.

    Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comLibertyville's Chase Bonder (25) goes up for a shot pressured by Stevenson's Christian Uremovich (11) during Friday's game.

  • Libertyville's Henry Eads looks to pass under pressure from Stevenson's Evan Porto (5) and his teammates on the bench during Friday's boys basketball game in Lincolnshire.

    Libertyville's Henry Eads looks to pass under pressure from Stevenson's Evan Porto (5) and his teammates on the bench during Friday's boys basketball game in Lincolnshire. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comSTORY ON PAGE 4: Stevenson's Josh Thomas goes up for a shot guarded by Libertyville's Cole Bonder (35) during Friday's game in Lincolnshire. Libertyville won 51-50.

    Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comSTORY ON PAGE 4: Stevenson's Josh Thomas goes up for a shot guarded by Libertyville's Cole Bonder (35) during Friday's game in Lincolnshire. Libertyville won 51-50.

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comStevenson's Christian Uremovich (11) tries to gain control of a loose ball near Libertyville's Cole Bonder during Friday's game.

    Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comStevenson's Christian Uremovich (11) tries to gain control of a loose ball near Libertyville's Cole Bonder during Friday's game.

  • Libertyville's Andrew Sorensen, left, drives on Stevenson's David Sulnius during Friday's boys basketball game in Lincolnshire.

    Libertyville's Andrew Sorensen, left, drives on Stevenson's David Sulnius during Friday's boys basketball game in Lincolnshire. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comStevenson's Jaden Evans (2) and David Sulnius (1) try to pull down a rebound with Libertyville's John Graham during Friday's game in Lincolnshire.

    Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comStevenson's Jaden Evans (2) and David Sulnius (1) try to pull down a rebound with Libertyville's John Graham during Friday's game in Lincolnshire.

 
By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/15/2022 12:53 PM

Libertyville junior forward/center Cole Bonder picked the ideal time to track down his lone offensive rebound Friday night -- 20 seconds left in regulation, with his team down 49-48 in a North Suburban Conference boys basketball game at rival Stevenson.

The 6-foot-6 Wildcat, near the top of the key, then whipped a pass to his older brother, 6-8 senior forward Chase Bonder, who nailed a 3-pointer 3 seconds later to put the visitors up 51-49.

 

"That was a game-saver, Cole's offensive rebound," Chase Bonder said after Libertyville's pulsating 51-50 victory in Lincolnshire.

But Chase Bonder had a game to savor, pouring in 27 points -- or 53 percent of the Wildcats' output -- and relishing a win on the Patriots' hardwood for the first time in his career.

The elder Bonder struck for 14 points, including a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter, and netted 10 of his team's 20 points in the fourth frame.

"Successful teams find a way to get the ball to their best player, their best finisher, at the end of close games," Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski said after his club improved to 14-5 overall and 4-1 in the NSC. "For us, that player is Chase Bonder. He helped us from the outside and the inside tonight. And he's such a smart player.

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"Want to know something else about him?" the coach added. "Nobody cares about our team more than Chase does."

Stevenson (10-5, 3-2) chased after Libertyville's early leads (9-2, 15-9, 24-13) before catching up to the Wildcats on a bucket by Patriots sophomore forward Christian Uremovich (team-highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds) at the 2:19 mark of the second quarter.

That tied it at 26, capping a 13-3 run.

Chase Bonder hit a free throw with 3 ticks left to give Libertyville a 27-26 lead at intermission.

Stevenson maintained its momentum at the start of the second half, tallying the first 11 points to go up 37-27, and established another comfortable lead (45-36) on a Joshua Thomas putback at 5:09 of the fourth quarter.

But Libertyville's DNA has surpluses of resilience and resolve, and they lifted the Wildcats from there. Junior guard Jack Huber (12 points) and Cole Bonder each notched a field goal in a 47-second span, before senior John Graham and Huber scored back-to-back baskets in a 51-second stretch.

Chase Bonder's personal 7-0 run turned a 49-44 deficit into a 51-49 advantage.

Stevenson senior guard Jaden Evans (8 points) swished a free throw but missed his second attempt with 2.8 seconds left on the clock. Moments later a sea of orange-clad Libertyville student fans stormed the court.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"What a North Suburban Conference battle, what a Libertyville-Stevenson battle," Zyrkowski said. "Basketball is a game of runs. You saw plenty of those, from both teams, tonight."

Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose got at least 7 points from six Pats. Thomas and junior guard David Sulinus joined Evans as 8-point scorers. Senior guards Evan Porto and Tate Donica scored 7 points apiece.

Uremovich's double-double impressed Ambrose.

"Christian crashed the boards, played solid defense," Ambrose said. "Did a lot of nice things for us tonight."

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