Stevenson is one of those “pick your poison” basketball teams.
If somehow you figure out a way to stop super sophomore Jalen Brunson, then fellow fine sophomore Colby Cashaw will burn you inside and outside. Add the outside shooting of Andy Stempel and Matt Morrissey, and there is no wonder why the Patriots are the top seed in the Waukegan sectional.
“They have four really good players,” Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher said. “And with Cashaw hitting 3s, they are hard to defend.”
On its march to a North Suburban Conference Lake Division title, the visiting Patriots hit their first three baskets from three-point range and never looked back in beating Lake Zurich 62-49 Saturday night.
It marked the 20th win of the season for Stevenson (20-4, 9-2), which concludes division play with a home game against Mundelein on Friday night.
Brunson’s first three buckets of the night came from long range. He had 15 points by halftime, as the Pats took a 31-16 lead.
“Our coach has confidence that we can go out and knock those down,” Brunson said. “But we also know that we can’t settle for just this.”
That two-headed scoring machine of Brunson and Cashaw split six 3-pointers in the victory.
“Brunson’s got such a smooth shot,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. “And Cashaw is just as smooth as butter.”
Stevenson’s three-point attack was contagious, as senior backup point guard Justin Berkson launched one in the middle of the third quarter. When it landed, the Stevenson lead was almost untouchable at 41-20. It grew as high as 27 points (48-31) when the third quarter expired.
And then the home team finally had enough. Lake Zurich (13-13, 3-7) caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring twice as many points in the second half as it scored in the first half.
“That team didn’t lie down,” Ambrose said. “They came back hard at us.”
On a tough, spinning shot from Lake Zurich’s John Repplinger (9 points), the Stevenson lead shrunk to 54-42.
“We got it going,” said Bears sophomore guard Mike Travlos, who scored 9 points. “We were aggressive on the defensive end. We are way better than our record shows.”
Pitcher and his assistant coach, former Hersey head coach Don Rowley, both agreed the Bears didn’t come out strong against this league leader.
“We weren’t aggressive enough,” Pitcher said.
Some of that lack of aggressiveness may have been a reason why Lake Zurich reached the free throw line just once all night.
Brunson and Cashaw led the way early for the Pats. When Cashaw banked in a shot to open the team’s second-quarter scoring, he and Brunson had 16 of their team’s first 20 points.
Cashaw led all scorers with 19 points. Brunson had the great first half but was held to a single point in the second half.
“We got lazy on defense,’’ Brunson said. “In the second half, Lake Zurich really scored.”
While the Pats landed eight 3-pointers, the Bears didn’t manage a single trey until the second half. That’s when Repplinger, Travlos and Ryan Roach each hit a 3.
Fleet-footed Brad Kruse led a balanced Lake Zurich attack with 12 points. Roach added 9.
Stevenson had help from Morrissey (10 points) and Stempel (6).Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.