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Proviso East's Paris Lee lays up a shot past De La Salle's Alvin Ellis. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
Proviso East ended last season just short of the ultimate goal, losing to Simeon in a tightly-contested Class 4A state championship game. The Pirates have spent the past four months trying to fit some new pieces in with the star holdovers and get back to Peoria.
Their playoff run starts next week, and the surging Pirates will have a 14-game win streak at their back after beating De La Salle 66-56 Saturday in the City-Suburban Showdown at House of Hope.
Point guard Paris Lee led the way with 18 points and seven steals. Sterling Brown added 12 points, four blocks and three steals.
“It took Sterling and Paris a little time to adjust to their role as leaders,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “They were complementary guys last year.”
The No. 4 Pirates (24-3) built a number of substantial leads throughout the game, but the No. 22 Meteors came back every time. A basket from Alvin Ellis with 3:32 to play pulled De La Salle within three points.
Proviso East responded with a 6-0 run to take control and time ran out on another Meteors comeback.
Ellis, a Minnesota recruit, and Brown, an SMU recruit, staged a high-level battle throughout the game.
Ellis finished with 16 points and four assists.
“It was fun,” Brown said. “A good, competitive game against another good player, I just tried to play my best.”
Boyce was pleased his team was able to withstand De La Salle’s multiple comebacks.
“Early in the year this team lacked mental toughness,” Boyce said. “When De La Salle made their runs today we were able to handle it.”
Justin Earls scored 13 and grabbed 15 rebounds and sophomore Brandon Hutton scored 14 for De La Salle (16-7).
“The future is really bright for [Hutton],” Ellis said. “If he keeps working hard and listens to the coaches he’s going to be a great player.”
Jevon Carter scored 15 points and Branden Jenkins came off the bench to score six and grab 14 rebounds.
“It’s taken some time to learn that all 15 guys have to know their role,” Boyce said. “I like the way we are playing now, the flow we are in.
“Paris and Sterling have not been talked about as much as they deserve. I think the slow start hurt us, but I know we are a team that is going to make some noise in the playoffs.”