Libertyville knocks off Stevenson in NSC showdown
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.
"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."