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NSC Championship Game is area’s best game every year

FINAL SCORE YEAR-BY-YEAR

2001 — Warren def, Zion-Benton 51-36

2002 ­— Zion-Benton def. Libertyville 85-65

2003 — Zion-Benton def. Stevenson 61-38

2004 — Zion-Benton def. Lake Forest 81-64

2005 — Warren def. Zion-Benton 49-36

2006 — Warren def. North Chicago 82-43

2007 — Warren def. Lakes 64-34

2008 — Zion-Benton def. North Chicago 75-66

2009 — Lake Forest 74, North Chicago 63

2010 — Zion-Benton def. North Chicago 79-75

2011 — Warren def. North Chicago 66-56

2012 — Warren def. North Chicago 84-80

2013 — North Chicago at Stevenson, 7 on Wed.

Updated: March 24, 2013 7:54PM



Points pondered while awaiting the opening tip of Wednesday’s 7 o’clock North Suburban Conference Championship Game in boys basketball between visiting North Chicago at Stevenson.

■ This is Year 13 for the NSC Championship Game, and the winner will be just the fourth school to celebrate with the big plaque.

Warren’s won this game six times, Zion-Benton’s won five times and Lake Forest won in 2009 when Matt Vogrich was the team’s star.

Stevenson is 0-1 in this game and North Chicago has lost the last five years and is 0-6 overall.

■ When Stevenson lost to Zion in the 2003 Championship Game, the Patriots’ top players were 6-7 Mike Hierl and 6-4 Craig Giametti — Two front-line players.

When the Patriots take the floor Wednesday against North Chicago, the top Pats will be a pair of sophomore guards — Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw.

Pat Ambrose also was Stevenson’s coach in 2003.

■ Here’s what makes the NSC Championship Game the absolute best game of the year in Lake County.

Not only do you get the two best teams facing off — Stevenson is the No. 1 seed in a 4A sectional and North Chicago’s a No. 1 in a 3A sectional — but the players don’t have to play tentative because — unlike during March Madness — when you lose, you don’t go home.

The knowledge that there are more games to play allows the players to be relaxed and daring and downright entertaining.

It’s a dream matchup for fans.

■ In 2011, Warren beat North Chicago by 10 points in this game, and both teams were playing in Peoria (Warren second in 4A and North Chicago fourth in 3A) three weeks later.

■ Stevenson sophomore guard Jalen Brunson is worth the price of admission alone.

He’ll be the most entertaining player on the court, although North Chicago’s Big Kurt Hall will be the most dominant in the paint.

■ It will be interesting to see what percentage of the crowd at the game is cheering for North Chicago (guess is 10 percent), what percentage is cheering for Stevenson (65 percent), and what percentage is spending the fourth quarters oohing and aahing at the amazing skills of the players on both sides (25 percent).

■ Of the two teams, Stevenson probably has the better chance of playing in Peoria.

Better guards, plus an easier better draw in the Round of 8 super-sectional if they get there.

■ Prediction: In big games like this, guards made the difference. Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw are better than what North Chicago can put on the court.

■ Though Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose likes to play slow, you watch the Patriots get into a fun-and-gun game with the Hawks.



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