It had been 10 days since the Stevenson boys basketball team played a game.
“I think it felt more like 14. At least,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said.
While getting stir-crazy was the downside, the upside to the Patriots’ long lay-off before Friday night’s game at Libertyville was having enough time to check plenty off the to-do list.
The Patriots had time to get their minds right after two straight North Suburban Conference Lake Division losses leading up to their break.
They had time to work out the kinks.
They had time to work up a hunger.
Libertyville had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of all that pent-up Patriot energy and emotion.
Stevenson jumped all over the host Wildcats with a relentless defense and an opportunistic offense and cruised to a 62-32 Lake Division victory that was never a contest.
The Patriots, who forced 17 first-half turnovers and 23 on the game, move to 5-2 overall (1-2 Lake) while Libertyville drops to 1-7 (0-3).
“We’re coming off two really tough losses to Zion-Benton and Warren but we had a really good 10 days of practice and I had a feeling that we were going to jump on (Libertyville) right away,” said Stevenson senior guard Andrew Stempel, who scored a game- and season-high 17 points. “Against Zion and Warren, we didn’t play a complete game. But this game was a complete game. We got out early and we put them away.”
That happened in the first quarter.
Libertyville could barely get a shot off early on. The Wildcats had 9 first-quarter turnovers and didn’t score until six minutes into the game. At halftime, Stevenson was up by 12 points (25-13), but the margin probably felt like double that. By then, Libertyville had nearly doubled its turnovers.
“The turnovers were a killer,” Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil said. “We turned the ball over, we couldn’t score, we missed wide-open looks. But that’s where we’re at. The last three games we’ve gotten down and that’s tough.”
Injuries have also made life tough for the Wildcats. They’ve been down as many as four of their top eight players, including three starters. Against Stevenson, Drew Cayce, normally a starter, came off the bench and played in spot duty as he tries to come back from a bad ankle. He finished with 2 points.
Picking up some of the slack for Libertyville was 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Joe Borcia.
He came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points for the Wildcats.
“I was just trying to get in there and help the team any way I could,” Borcia said. “But we just weren’t knocking down shots the way we are capable. If we’re not doing that, then we’ve got to lock down on defense and unfortunately, they were still knocking down their shots.”
Stempel, for instance, was an efficient 50 percent from the floor. Overall, the Patriots connected at a 42 percent clip but didn’t take many bad shots.
Sophomore guards Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw also finished in double-figures for Stevenson with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
“Conference games on the road are tough and we played tough tonight,” said Ambrose, whose team has yet to play a home game this season. “We were mentally tough. We were able to get up, get a nice lead and build on it. We didn’t do that (against Zion-Benton and Warren). We got a lead and we didn’t build on it in those games.
“Defensively, we really took care of things tonight. And our offense came with some of their turnovers. That was good for us.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.