Porto comes alive for Stevenson in win over St. Charles North

Evan Porto had a luxury his immediate Stevenson predecessors did not enjoy at the free-throw line Monday afternoon.

With 17.9 seconds remaining in the Patriots' boys basketball game against St. Charles North on Monday afternoon, Porto doubled the Stevenson lead with two conversions.

Porto scored all 19 of his team-high points after halftime in leading the Patriots to a 60-54 victory at the MLK Day of Hoops tournament in Geneva.

St. Charles North, which never led, reduced the contest to a one-possession game on consecutive field goals by Justin Hughes and Max Love.

Both scores came in the immediate aftermath of Stevenson failing to hit the front end of the bonus.

"Everything changes when you don't step up to the foul line to win it," St. Charles North coach Tom Poulin said.

But Porto left no doubt.

The senior not only scored the last of his points, but the Patriots' Tate Donica accounted for the final score with another pair at the line.

"I knew I had a little less pressure on me with it being the double bonus," said Porto, who hit three of the Patriots' nine 3-pointers. "I just tried to go up there relaxed and calm to knock them down."

The teams not only scored 35 points each in the second half but took turns shooting 67% from the floor as Stevenson was 14-for-21; the North Stars, after a frigid 2 of 12 first quarter, were 12-18 after the intermission.

But St. Charles North (10-8) was in catch-up mode from the get-go when Stevenson (11-5) scored 20 of the first 25 points of the game.

Jaden Evans' 5 straight points to initiate the scoring ultimately morphed into the Patriots owning a 20-5 lead after an Andy Wang 3-pointer on the opening second-quarter possession.

Wang, Donica and Jack Dabbs played major supporting reserve roles.

The Patriots' bench players combined for 14 points.

"They are three kids who are non-starters but are three talented players," Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said.

St. Charles North clawed back into the game behind Ned Hayes' perimeter brilliance. In scoring a game-high 20 points, Hayes drained five 3-pointers.

Hayes' 4-point play in the third quarter halved the Patriots' 36-28 lead.

"On the 4-point play, I hit two or three (3-pointers) before that," Hayes said. "I just happened to hit it, and the guy hit me."

But Stevenson ultimately had too much balance. Evans augmented Porto with 12 points. David Sulnius added nine, with reserves Wang and Donica adding six each.

The North Stars' five starters accounted for their entire offensive output as Love and Ethan Marlowe scored 13 and 10, respectively.

"The guys are aware of the fact we need to begin games differently," Poulin said.

"It's been happening to us all season," Hayes said of falling behind early.

In the two games played afterward, Lake Park turned back Hampshire 46-38; West Aurora then fell to Marist 52-51.

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