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PEORIA Friday Mar 15 2013 Stevenson's Justin Berkson (23) guards Edwardsville's Shawn Roundtree (24) during the fourth state basketball semifinals game. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
PEORIA — Sophomore sensation Jalen Brunson started it off. Andy Stempel got hot from the beyond the arc in the second quarter to keep it alive and Brunson’s steady hand steered it home from there.
Stevenson is heading to the Class 4A state championship game.
It took a complete team effort and some red-hot shooting, but the Patriots knocked off favored Edwardsville 60-49 in the second semifinal at Carver Arena on Friday.
Brunson scored 21 points and handed off three assists. He didn’t miss a shot until the second minute of the third quarter, finishing 5-for-8 from the field.
“I just think it’s really good to come out strong on big stages and never be scared or intimidated by the big stage,” Brunson said. “That’s what I did, that’s what my team did and we came out with the win.”
Stevenson shot 20-for-39 from the field and 10-for-18 from three.
The game was tied after one quarter. Stempel drained two threes in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 30-20 lead and he made three in the third quarter to keep the Patriots in control 45-36.
Edwardsville closed to within five points with 3:39 to play, but Matt Morrissey responded with a baseline drive that resembled a move more often seen in a playground game of H-O-R-S-E than an actual organized basketball game.
“It’s something I’ve done before,” Morrissey said. “I got in the air and that was the best way to finish.”
Brunson made 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Stempel finished with 14 points and sophomore Connor Cashaw added 13 points and six rebounds for the Patriots (29-4).
Western Illinois recruit Garret Covington led Edwardsville (30-3) with 18 points and six rebounds.
Stevenson will be a huge underdog to Simeon in the Class 4A title game Saturday.
“It’s really a blessing [to play Simeon],” Brunson said. “We’ve worked really hard. We have to be perfect and I think we are ready to accept the challenge.”
Shawn Roundtree added 13 points and five assists. All-state guard Tre’ Harris was held to nine points on 3-for-11 shooting.