Overcoming adversity equals a win for Stevenson over Warren

 
By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/28/2022 11:03 PM

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.

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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.

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