How do you defend against a team with as many weapons as Stevenson?
Waukegan found out the hard way in Friday’s 4A regional championship game at Prospect that points can come from anyone in Stevenson’s lineup.
The top-seeded Patriots (25-4) kept their winning streak (15 games) and season alive with a 76-49 victory over No. 8 Waukegan. By having four players score in double figures, they advance to face No. 5 seed Mundelein on Tuesday in the Waukegan sectional.
It was Stevenson’s second win against the Bulldogs (15-13) within a 4-week span. The Patriots won 66-49 on their home floor Feb. 5. This one, though, had much more at stake.
After falling to top-seeded Warren in last year’s regional final, Stevenson wanted to purge that memory, and it did so with lightning quick efficiency.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who can shoot and score in different ways,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. “We got some open looks and knocked them down.”
Stevenson’s first-half long-range shooting (8 of 11 from beyond the arc) put Waukegan in a hole the only got deeper after intermission.
Jalen Brunson (game high 19 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds), Matt Morrissey and Andy Stempel (14 points each) combined for 6 of those first-half treys.
“We feed the hot hand,” Stempel said. “Matt had it going, and Jalen had it going.”
“If I get the open shot, I’m going to take it,” Morrissey said. “But we say champs make championship passes. A lot of guys stepped up to make the 3’s.
“This is something I’ve been wanting for four years,” Stempel said. “I’ve wanted to get a piece of that net. We want to play all the way to March 16.”
The Patriots scored at the horn at the end of the first three quarters. They led 22-8 after one quarter, 40-19 at halftime and 59-37 after three quarters.
“They battled us very hard,” Morrissey said. “It’s great to come out with the win. It’s one of the steps to keep moving on.”
Even a trapping defense employed by Waukegan in the second quarter couldn’t slow the Patriots. Morrissey and Connor Cashaw (17 points) each scored 6 points, mostly on close range shots after Stevenson solved the double-teams.
But it was his own team’s defense that Ambrose relied on.
“Defense is what we hang our hat on,” Ambrose said. “We were disappointed in our defensive effort against Grayslake North. That was our emphasis in practice.”
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Cashaw, a sophomore. “We work so hard, and keep practicing hard so we can get to Peoria.”
Post player Devonte Taylor led Waukegan with 16 points, including 10 in the third quarter. Jerome Davis added 15 for the Bulldogs.