Z-B, Stevenson show they can play with state’s best on hardwood
By Bryan Bonato Special to Sun-Times Media June 4, 2013 8:46PM
Riverside, 06/01/13--Zion-Benton's Greg Swane shows some finger-tip control as he lays in a basket. Riverside-Brookfield High School hosted their 11th annual Summer Shootout Saturday featuring 36 area boys basketball teams. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 4, 2013 1:15AM
The two best high school basketball players in Lake County next winter will be Milik Yarbrough of Zion-Benton and Jalen Brunson of Stevenson.
And it’s not a coincidence that the two best teams in the county next year figure to be the same two schools — Z-B and Stevenson.
Both teams showed a lot of promise when they both went 3-1 in the prestigious 36-team Riverside-Brookfield Shootout tournament, a two-day event that featured almost every elite prep squad in the state with the exceptions of Orr from Chicago and North Chicago.
Here are some of the local highlights from the two-day event:
■ The Bees return four starters — Yarbrough, point guard Maurice Young, forward Trenton Curry, and center Chris Moragne. Gone is starting guard Dorsey Cadette (CLC).
On Sunday, Zion substituted primarily as five-man units, with the four returning starters playing together on one unit and the fifth player changing each time they went out. Although the Bees will have a little bit of height to add to Moragne, Yarbrough, and Curry (6-6 forward Greg Swane was not there on Sunday), Sunday’s team featured a plethora of guards, including juniors Daryk Ruple and DeVonte Maynard, and seniors Fred Calvert and Malik Lay.
■ Having players around Yarbrough who understand their roles and execute with the game on the line has played an important part in the Bees’ 32 wins in their last 39 games (dating back to the 2011-12 season). You know what you’re going to get out of Yarbrough, Young, Curry, and Moragne, but whether the players who have to take on bigger roles this year can approach them with the same mentality is one of the interesting questions facing the Bees this offseason.
■ Zion trailed 23-10 York at halftime then rallied behind aggressive defense from the unit of returning starters. Yarbrough, who scored 23 points in the contest, hit three three-pointers and tallied two three-point plays in the rally, and Fred Calvert scored on a driving layin with eight seconds remaining to pull the Bees to within 41-38.
■ Zee-Bee coaching legend Don Kloth: ”The first thing we want to make sure of during the summer is that everybody on the varsity and sophomore teams last year has a chance to play. Right now, we have 22 kids involved with summer basketball. On different nights different people will play.”
(Saturday), St. Joe’s was a close game the entire way, and West Aurora we came from way behind. Today, York is a very good team with good size. I think you benefit from the experience of playing good teams like that.”
■ Stevenson and Morgan Park played a one-minute overtime in which Morgan Park had possession throughout but failed to score. They then played first to score two points wins, and Morgan Park hit 1 of 2 free throws, then Stevenson turned the ball over at the other end. Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw scrambled for it and a foul was called that gave Morgan Park two more free throws. Brunson picked up a frustration technical and Charlie Moore hit the free throw to give the Mustangs the win.
■ The game looks a lot different when you’re watching a team with the quickness and court presence of Morgan Park. Because of their ability to put pressure on the ball, the Mustangs were able to make Stevenson play the full court for most of the game’s final 26 minutes. Even so, Brunson and Cashaw scored 16 points apiece and were able to keep the game even with help from their supporting cast and the team’s hard work on the defensive end in a brutally physical contest.
■ The Patriots remain undersized inside, but the players seem to get that they will need to develop a stronger inside presence against quality teams if they want to elevate their game to an even higher level. Six-foot-4 junior Parker Nichols and 6-4 senior Josias Sanon were both aggressive around the basket Nichols also finished with 10 points against Morgan Park.
■ The Patriots return three starters: Brunson, Cashaw, and Matt Morrissey. They lose starters Andy Stempel and Jack Duffy, as well as a few supporting blue-collar players off the bench. 6-3 junior Cameron Green, who saw plenty of action after getting called up to the varsity squad in the final weeks of the season did not attend Sunday.
■ Brunson on summer ball for the Pats: “The idea for the summer is to get everyone back and healthy and start building the intensity back to where it was last season when we won all those games in a row. You want to see guys in the gym continuing to work hard. Those are the type of things that are going to be really key for us.”
■ Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose, watching his team play from the stage and sporting a beard, was hard to recognize at first.
“We have a lot to do. We can always get better,” he said. “We have to see how kids fit into different positions. We lose a number of seniors. A guy like Andy Stempel, who is going to take his role as sort of a glue-all do-all type of player? So there’s a lot to work on.”