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Victory shows Patriots are ready for extended March Madness run

North Chicago's Emmanuel January (center) shoots between Stevenson's Jalen Bruns(left) Connor Cashaw during their basketball game Stevenson. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times

North Chicago's Emmanuel January (center) shoots between Stevenson's Jalen Brunson (left) and Connor Cashaw during their basketball game at Stevenson. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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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 def. North Chicago 74-63

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

2011 — Warren def. North Chicago 66-56

2012 — Warren def. North Chicago 84-80

2013 — Stevenson def. North Chicago 73-58


North Chicago 14 11 19 14— 58

Stevenson 14 18 19 22 — 73

North Chicago (24-3) —

McCloud 6 1-1 14, Hall 4 2-2 10, January 4 0-0 8, Thomas 5 2-5 12, Coleman 4 2-2 10, Shelton 2 0-0 4. Totals: 25-57 7-10 58.

Stevenson (23-4) — Brunson 10 6-7 32, Cashaw 7 1-2 18, Stempel 4 0-0 10, Green 3 0-0 6, Duffy 2 0-0 4, Morrissey 1 1-1 3. Totals 27-56 8-10 73.

3-point baskets — North Chicago 1-12 (McCloud 1-7, Hall 0-2, January 0-2, Shelton 0-1.), Stevenson 11-24 (Brunson 6-9, Morrissey 0-4, Stempel 2-5, Cashaw 3-5, Green 0-1 ). Total team fouls — North Chicago 12, Stevenson 7. Fouled out — None. Technicals — None.

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Updated: March 22, 2013 10:17AM

In March of 2007, Stevenson began what has grown to a six-year streak of Lake County teams bringing home a trophy from the March Madness boys basketball state finals in Peoria.

Next month, that streak likely will grow to seven. And when it does, chances are the county will have come full circle, with Stevenson again bringing home the hardware.

The Patriots will take a 23-4 record into the Class 4A playoffs, along with the knowledge they probably can beat anybody this side of Simeon.

They made their case convincingly on Wednesday, dominating a good North Chicago team 73-58 in the North Suburban Conference Championship Game.

What makes the Patriots so tough is that they can beat you with relentless intensity, in-your-face defense, great coaching, and Jalen Brunson.

Against North Chicago (24-3) all those factors came into play, with Brunson playing the starring role.

The sophomore point guard was dominant, hitting 10-of-17 from the field, including 6-of-9 from behind the arc. He added 6-of-7 from the foul line, and assisted on a half-dozen of his teammates’ buckets.

“I knew it was going to be an exciting game,” said Brunson. “I just wanted it. I was really hungry for it, I guess.

“It’s not just about putting on a show. I’m just trying to execute and help our team the best I can.”

Whether he knows it or not, Brunson did put on a show in front of the largest home crowd Stevenson’s had in recent memory.

Comcast cable TV taped the game for airing later this week, and you won’t want to miss Brunson’s second half.

In the third quarter, he had 16 of his team’s 19 points, dazzling with long-range bombs and Rose-esque drives into the paint.

In short, he dominated North Chicago the same way the 24-3 Warhawks have dominated most of their opponents this year.

“It feels good. The kids really put in a lot of work,” said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. “They’ve dedicated themselves to these types of things in the offseason and during the season.

“Jalen in the third quarter was unstoppable. I thought Connor (Cashaw) was unstoppable in the first half, but so many kids contributed in every way.”

One of those contributors was Matt Morrissey, who did not score a point in the first half. But the guy he guarded, North Chicago scorer JayQuan McCloud, didn’t score in the first half either.

“Matt is a pretty good player too,” said Ambrose. “He has some pretty defensive bloodlines (his dad is Jim Morrissey, who used to be a Chicago bears linebacker). Years ago, his brother (Mike) shut down Jon Scheyer (Glenbrook North’s star). Mike Morrissey was an all-state football palyer. And guess what Matt Morrissey is? An all-state football player.”

Both teams will begin their playoff runs next Tuesday. North Chicago will be at home in Class 3A, and Stevenson will be at Deerfield in Class 4A.

Let the Madness begin!

Bryan Bonato contributed to this report

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