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Stevenson's Jalen Brunson (15) fends off St. Viator's Mayo Arogundade (11). | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
The St. Viator student cheering section had a special chant prepared for Stevenson sophomore guard Jalen Brunson during the Class 4A Waukegan Sectional final Friday night. “Daddy’s better” they chanted while Brunson was at the free throw line in the third quarter.
The crowd was referring to Brunson’s dad, former NBA player and current Charlotte Bobcats assistant coach Rick Brunson. That cheering section found out most of the night that the kid is pretty good, too.
Brunson was the catalyst with his ball-handling, scoring and defense in leading his team to a decisive 76-58 win.
“I don’t even listen to that,” said Brunson, who finished with a game-high 24 points. “My Dad pushes me a lot, even when he isn’t here. I appreciate everything he, my mom and my sister have done for me. When something like that happens, you really have to zone it out.”
With the victory, the Patriots (27-4) advance to Tuesday’s DeKalb (NIU) Supersectional where they will meet Boylan at 8 pm.
Brunson had plenty of offensive help with four of his teammates reaching double-figure scoring. Conner Cashaw added 14, Andy Stempel chipped in 13, Matt Morrissey finished with 12 and Cameron Green had 10 off the bench.
Mayo Arogundade led the Lions (21-9) with 15 points, Ore Arogundade had 13 and Kevin Hammerlund added 11. The Lions will graduate four senior starters.
“They fought hard and this has been a great group and I love them for all the hard work they put in for me,” St. Viator coach Mike Howland said.
The Lions had their only lead at 6-5 in the first before the Patriots took the lead for good with a 14-4 run to lead 19-10 after a quarter of play. Brunson set the tone, scoring his team’s first seven points. From there, the Patriots led 37-27 at the half and were in command 50-38 after three quarters.
“This is good for the kids and I’m excited for them,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. “For these kids this is a once in a lifetime experience for them.”