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When Jalen Brunson glanced at the scoreboard Friday night, the Stevenson sophomore did not like what he saw.
Instead of succumbing to the 16-point deficit, Brunson and the Patriots roared back to beat visiting Lake Zurich 58-51.
“We gave them [the Bears] too many easy shots in the second quarter,” said Brunson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore. “We felt like it was disrespectful to be down on our home court. I knew [the Bears] had to do it with defense.”
The ultra-quick guard collected four of his five steals in the second half and tallied 19 of his 26 points after intermission.
“Jalen can do a lot of things,” said Patriots coach Pat Ambrose, whose club improved to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the NSC Lake. “He’s gifted, and he works very hard at it.”
All of the Patriots turned up the intensity in the second half.
“We played tougher on the ball, and we played smarter on the ball,” Ambrose said.
Andrew Stempel provided some big moments during his 14-point performance. The biggest for the Patriot senior was a 3-point shot from the left baseline that tied the contest at 39-39. Stempel added a three in the fourth quarter to put Stevenson ahead 44-42.
The contest was a see-saw affair for much of the fourth quarter before the Patriots pulled away in the final 1:37.
Lake Zurich fell to 4-7, 1-4 despite strong games from sophomore Mike Travlos (15 points) and junior Brad Kruse (13 points, 8 rebounds).
“Offensively, we got a little passive in the third quarter,” Bears coach Billy Pitcher said. “I thought we took too many outside shots in the second half.”