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Stevenson's Jalen Brunson dribbles with control around Lake Forest's Ben Simpson. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Stevenson sophomore Jalen Brunson has the composure of a college senior on the basketball court.
Maybe it’s because his dad — Rick Brunson — is a former NBA player; maybe it’s because of his experience starting on varsity last season; or maybe it’s because he knows his teammates have his back.
“A lot of times teams try to take his head off and see if they can rattle him,” Stevenson senior Jack Duffy said. “But we are watching out for that and stuff. We’re not going to let it happen.”
Brunson wasn’t just composed Tuesday in Lake Forest, he was downright dominant, leading the Patriots to a 59-53 victory over the Scouts.
“It’s awesome, the things he can do,” Duffy said. “I’ve never played with someone like that.
Brunson went off for 35 points, shooting 8-for-17 from the field. He spread his scoring out pretty evenly over the four quarters and iced the victory by shooting 6-for-7 from the free-throw line over the final two minutes.
“My experience on varsity last year is definitely helping me this season,” Brunson said. “That and my dad getting on me. He always says hard work beats talent, so I have to keep the work up.”
Brunson’s teammates put in plenty of work, as well. Lake Forest has two trees in the lineup, 6-foot-7 sophomore Evan Boudreaux (11 points, seven rebounds) and 6-9 Yale recruit Sam Downey (17 points, five rebounds).
Connor Cashaw, a 6-4 sophomore, and Adam Cohen, a 6-4 senior are the only size in the lineup for the Patriots, but the height didn’t matter as Stevenson matched Lake Forest rebound-for-rebound, with both teams finishing with 30 boards.
“Sometimes we were just making sure to try to do anything we could to take our guy out of the play and hope that the guards were able to grab the rebounds,” Duffy said.
Brunson confirmed that the rebounding effort was due to a plan, not just dumb luck.
“That’s all we’ve been doing is box-out drills,” Brunson said. “We knew they were big and we were going to have to out work them.”
Cashaw finished with nine points and nine rebounds for Stevenson (7-2, 3-2 North Suburban Lake). Senior Andrew Stempel added eight points.
Stevenson led throughout the game, but the Scouts cut the deficit to four points on a layup and free throw by Ben Simpson (13 points) with 4:05 to play.
Boudreaux left the court limping two minutes later with Stevenson leading by six, effectively taking the firepower necessary for a comeback out of the Scouts’ lineup.
Stevenson hosts Lake Zurich in a conference showdown on Friday.