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Elgin's Arie Williams (left) steals the ball from Stevenson's Matt Morrissey during the fourth quarter Tuesday in Buffalo Grove. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Stevenson withstood Elgin’s best punch Tuesday night and then put the Maroons away with a series of jabs at the free-throw line.
The Patriots emerged with a 61-56 victory in second-round play at the Buffalo Grove tournament, but not before squandering a 15-point first-half lead and needing a fourth-quarter rally to clinch the hard-fought win.
Jalen Brunson scored a team-high 22 points and Matt Morrissey added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Stevenson (2-0), which took advantage of being in the bonus down the stretch by making nine free throws during a decisive 11-0 run in the fourth quarter.
“That’s Stevenson basketball,” Morrissey said. “Coach (Pat) Ambrose always preaches to rebound, play defense, and when you get your chance knock down those free throws at the end.”
Elgin (1-1) appeared to be in for a long night as Brunson drained three three-pointers to help Stevenson charge to a 14-2 lead out of the gate. The Patriots eventually pushed their advantage to 25-10, but the Maroons battled back behind the leadership of senior Arie Williams.
Williams, the only starter back from last year’s 26-4 team, scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the second quarter to help Elgin pull within 29-26 at halftime. The Maroons then took their first lead of the game on a Williams bucket with 30 seconds left in the third quarter that made the score 44-43.
Elgin couldn’t maintain the momentum, though, as it made only 4-of-15 shots from the field in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Patriots made the most of their march to the free-throw line, turning a 48-45 deficit early in the fourth into a 56-48 lead with 2:46 left.
“I’m a competitor so I want to win everything,” Williams said. “But I understand we’re a new team, and to be in the situation we were in, I was a little surprised with how well we played.”
Andrew Stempel chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds for Stevenson, which finished 25-for-36 at the charity stripe. Elgin got a spark off the bench from Isaiah Butler, who tallied 12 points and five steals.
The Maroons struggled on the glass as they were outrebounded 32-17, but their pressure defense forced eight turnovers in the second quarter in a strong follow-up performance to Monday’s season-opening win against Buffalo Grove.
“I learned more about my team tonight than I did (Monday) night in a victory,” Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. “We learned that we will battle back from any deficit or any situation.”
STEVENSON 61, ELGIN 56
Brunson 6 7-8 22, Morrissey 2 7-8 12, Stempel 3 4-5 10, Cashaw 2 4-7 8, Cohen 2 2-2 6, Berkson 1 1-6 3. Totals 16 25-36 61.
Williams 7 9-9 24, Butler 5 1-2 12, Sedlack 2 3-4 8, Sitter 2 0-0 4, Dunner 2 0-0 4, Bednar 2 0-0 4, Harper 0 0-1 0. Totals 20 13-16 56.
Stevenson 23 6 14 18 -- 61
Elgin 10 16 18 12 -- 56
Three-point goals – Stevenson (4): Brunson 3, Morrissey. Elgin (3): Williams, Butler, Sedlack. Fouled out – Stevenson: None. Elgin – Sitter, Bednar.