Stevenson routs Lake Forest with special duo in the stands

Michael Maloney and Aidan Bardic were just youngsters when Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw made their huge run at Stevenson. Both had fond memories of heading to the watch that duo light up opponents and play stingy defense.

On Thursday in Lincolnshire, both Brunson and Cashaw got to return that favor as Stevenson blew past Lake Forest 48-33.

Brunson, who is currently playing for the New York Knicks, was in town on a day off between playing the Bulls Wednesday and Friday. Cashaw is back home for the holidays after playing pro basketball in Europe.

Bardic said that he knew they were both in the stands.

"We got a little bit of information before hand," Bardic said. "It hit a few of us nerves. But they went away."

Bardic said he has great memories of watching Brunson and Cashaw winning a state championship.

"They were crazy to watch," said Bardic, who finished with 11 points. "It was an honor to have them here. These guys were some of our inspirations growing up."

Maloney said he loved coming to watch them play as well.

"Especially the Stevenson-Lake Forest games," Maloney said. "They were great battles."

Maloney (7 points), along with David Sulnius, did a great job on taking Clemson-bound Asa Thomas out the game. Thomas finished with nine points and was 3-of-11 from the field including 1-of-9 from outside the arc.

"He is a big focal point of their offense," Maloney said. "We worked on who was going to guard him and how we were going to guard him."

Sulnius said that stopping Thomas was a key ingredient to winning Thursday.

"We just wanted to lock him down," Sulnius said. "My job defensively today was to focus on him and keep him to the least amount of points possible."

Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said that the plan to have his former star players attend the game came about when the NBA schedule was released.

"Jalen told us that because of COVID, that they were doing back-to-back games here," Ambrose said. "And on his day off we were playing. The amazing thing is that we don't have a Thursday home game all year long and we have one the day he is off."

Nines were wild in the first half.

Each team scored nine points in the first quarter. It was a sloppy first period with the teams combining for nine turnovers.

Sulnius (5 points) and Brandon Sorokin (10 points) each hit a 3-pointer as the Patriots (7-1, 3-0) opened a 17-13 lead.

After Lake Forest (3-4, 1-2) cut the margin to 17-16, Stevenson really found its stride. Led by Bardic and Maloney, the Patriots scored nine unanswered points to build a 26-16 advantage on their way to a 29-18 halftime lead.

Leading 31-20 early in the third quarter, the Patriots went on a 12-2 run to blow the game wide open. Stevenson then just burned clock in the fourth quarter before both coaches emptied their benches to close out the game.

"We were good defensively," Ambrose said. "Especially in the first half when we gave up just 18 points. We made them earn everything they got and that made the difference."

  Stevenson's David Sulnius is fouled by Lake Forest's Bolurin Taiwo in a boys basketball game in Lincolnshire on Thursday, December 15, 2022. John Starks/
  Stevenson's Christian Uremovich passes the ball over Lake Forest's Hudson Scroggins in a boys basketball game in Lincolnshire on Thursday, December 15, 2022. John Starks/
  Stevenson's Rocco Pagliocca is fouled by Lake Forest's Campbell Allan in a boys basketball game in Lincolnshire on Thursday, December 15, 2022. John Starks/
  Stevenson's Michael Maloney steals the ball from Lake Forest's Asa Thomas Thursday in Lincolnshire. John Starks/
  Stevenson's Jack Dabbs shoots over Lake Forest's Tommie Aberle in a boys basketball game in Lincolnshire on Thursday, December 15, 2022. John Starks/
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