Classy effort lifts Stevenson past Mundelein
While senior night at Stevenson recognized the outstanding commitments from Andy Stempel, Justin Berkson, John Duffy and Riley House, a trio of sophomores nearly stole the show in the final regular-season home contest for the Patriots as they hosted Mundelein.
One in particular, Cameron Green — in just his second appearance of the season on the varsity roster — looked every bit the part of a senior.
Green came off the bench midway through first quarter and gave the Patriots an immediate spark. His 11 first-half points, combined with 37 more from fellow sophs Jalen Brunson (17 points) and Connor Cashaw, helped to keep the Patriots perfect at home with a 77-67 win over the Mustangs. It was the 12th win in a row for Stevenson (22-4, 10-2).
"This is a great experience and a lot of fun," said Green, who added a couple of blocks and rebounds to go with his 11 points. "Moving up from sophomore to varsity, the game is so much faster and it takes getting used to but it is so much fun."
Stevenson, which wrapped up a spot in Wednesday's North Suburban Conference championship game by winning the Lake Division with a win over Lake Zurich last Saturday, had a lot more fun in the third quarter as it broke open a tight 41-37 halftime advantage.
"We talked about valuing the basketball," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "We talked about not turning the ball over — we kept coughing it up in the first half. We can play fast, but we need to make good decisions when we do."
Cashaw and Stempel, who shared team best honors with 20 points, ignited the Patriots attack in the third period. Cashaw scored 12 in the quarter while Stempel added 5 more to help the hosts to a 17-9 cushion and a 58-46 lead after 3.
"On our first 7 possessions we turned it over 6 times and many of those were unforced," said Mundelein coach Dick Knar. "To give a great team like Stevenson 25 total extra possessions puts you in a tough spot."
Mundelein (13-13, 5-7) stayed in the game thanks to the play of SIU-bound senior Sean O'Brien and fellow senior Chino Ebube. O'Brien, who played despite illness, netted a game-high 21 points while hauling down 12 boards. Ebube put on a dunking exhibition in the first half when he scored all but 2 of his 19 points. He also added 16 boards and 5 blocks.
O'Brien's own run of 6 straight points to start the fourth quarter pulled Mundelein within 58-52 with 6:21 left. But following a Stevenson timeout, the Patriots rebuilt the lead to 66-53 keyed by a pair of buckets from Stempel, and this time Mundelein couldn't recover.
Even late-game long-range shooting from Northern Iowa-bound senior Robert Knar couldn't stop Stevenson. Knar scored 10 of his 15 points in the final four minutes.
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