Overcoming adversity equals a win for Stevenson over Warren
The math looked bleak for Stevenson's boys basketball team Friday night.
The banged-up Patriots entered their home North Suburban Conference contest against Warren minus three starters.
Senior guard Evan Porto -- Stevenson's leading scorer, this season and in the game (14 points) -- had to subtract himself from the final 4:18 of the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury, with his club up 35-31.
The ultracompetitive, hard-driving Patriot slapped hardwood hard, knowing he'd have to sit in crunchtime.
The math got more bleak. Minus four starters now.
But none other than Patriots sophomore forward and first-time starter Jack Dabbs, who had taken a pre-calculus test during the school day, came up big when he added a clutch offensive rebound to his board total in the final minute of Stevenson's 41-37 victory in Lincolnshire.
The 6-foot-6 Dabbs tapped a teammate's missed free throw behind his back before his frame fell out of bounds, the ball rolling toward the sure hands of Stevenson junior guard David Sulinus.
Seconds later junior guard Michael Maloney came down with another offensive rebound off a missed freebie for Stevenson (13-7, 5-3).
"I feel better about the win than I do about the test I took today," said Dabbs, who finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds. "I think I did just OK on the test."
Patriots coach Pat Ambrose, spent and relieved afterward, took a seat on a staircase and came up with a string of words to describe the triumph and his team's effort.
"A grind-it-out win," said Ambrose, whose team fell 23-20 to Mundelein on Tuesday night. "Let's see ... survival. Perseverance. Resilience. Intestinal fortitude. Or maybe a gut-check, that type of thing.
"Jack Dabbs gave us what we needed on his maiden voyage as a starter. He has nice moves, plus a nice touch inside."
Stevenson limited Warren (12-10, 6-3) to 5 points in the second quarter and led 23-14 at the break. Porto and Warren senior forward Cooper Stacey each scored 9 points in the first 16 minutes.
Stacey (5 rebounds) would net a game-high 19 points, including back-to-back buckets right before Porto's injury and a layup following a Howard Mullen steal that pared the Pats' lead to 37-33 at 1:14 of the fourth quarter.
"Stevenson," Blue Devils coach Jon Jasnoch said, "played great defense. Stevenson didn't give us many wide-open looks, and when we got such looks, we didn't shoot well. And, for a team being down a few guys, Stevenson executed well offensively."
After Sulinus (10 points) hit a free throw to give the hosts a 39-35 advantage, Maloney (4 points, team-high 6 rebounds) provided the assist on Dabbs' final basket of the night.
"I was kind of nervous at the start," admitted Dabbs, who found out he'd start on Wednesday. "All I wanted to do was help my team out, any way I could. We're a brotherhood going through a rough stretch, injury-wise. We'll get through this with a next-man-up approach."
Blue Devils senior guard Nate Harris tallied 5 points. His 3-pointer capped Warren's 5-0 spurt at the outset of the second quarter and secured the visitors' only lead, 14-12, of the night. Classmate Gavin Cartwright grabbed a team-high 7 boards.