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St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens blocks a shot by Elgin's Malik Parham-Dunner on Friday. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media

What Kendall Stephens and his St. Charles East teammates lacked in offensive flow Friday they more than made up for with swarming defense.

The Saints used their length and quickness to harass host Elgin into a whopping 32 turnovers as they earned a 57-43 Upstate Eight River victory at Chesbrough Field House.

Elgin point guard Arie Williams finished with a game-high 24 points, but St. Charles East (7-2, 3-1) wore down the four-year varsity starter by sending waves of defenders to pick him up near the halfcourt line. The Maroons committed 10 of their turnovers during the fourth quarter when they were outscored 20-11.

Meanwhile, Stephens led the charge for the Saints, who as a team connected on only 22-of-56 shots. The Purdue recruit finished the night with 15 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and two blocks.

“It was a long night shooting, but it doesn’t stop there,” Stephens said. “I try to find other ways to help my team win, and tonight that was doing a little bit of rebounding, getting steals and being active.”

Elgin (5-6, 1-4) managed to hang around much of the night and trailed only 37-34 after a pair of Eric Sedlack free throws with 7:22 left. The Saints cranked up the defensive pressure soon thereafter, with the 6-foot-5 Stephens draining a key three-pointer and coming up with three steals and six points during a 13-1 run that buried the Maroons.

The surge ended when Stephens picked off a wayward Elgin pass and fed the ball in transition to A.J. Washington, who flushed home a breakaway dunk to make the score 50-35 with 3:35 left.

“We’ve just got to take care of the ball better,” Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. “We’ve seen that exact same defense five games in a row. Sometimes we’ve handled it well and sometimes we haven’t.

“We kept trying to pass over a 6-5 guy (Stephens) who has a wingspan like a 7-footer. You’re not going to throw it over his head. It’s just bad basketball and we look like a grade-school team out there sometimes.”

Eleven players entered the scoring column for the Saints. Dom Adduci had 13 points and Washington contributed 11 after sitting out the entire first quarter.

Sedlack had 10 points and guard Tanner Bednar pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds for Elgin, which dropped its third in a row. The Maroons were without their second-leading scorer as junior guard Isaiah Butler is out two weeks with a broken right hand and strained MCL.

Butler’s absence puts even more pressure on Williams, who was clearly fatigued down the stretch as he made only one field goal in the fourth quarter.

“I feel like a lot of people were hesitant and didn’t know what to do with the ball,” Williams said. “Our inconsistency and turning over the ball really hurt us.”

Added Stephens: “Arie doesn’t come out of the game. He gets a lot of minutes, but with that you get tired. We tried to just keep running guys at him. It’s hard to shoot when your legs are tired.”


St. Charles East (7-2, 3-1)

Stephens 6 1-3 15, Adduci 4 5-5 13, Washington 5 1-2 11, Mason 2 0-0 4, Asquini 1 0-0 3, Wilson 1 0-0 2, Skoog 1 0-0 2, McQuillan 0 2-3 2, Liss 1 0-0 2, Gentry 1 0-0 2, Griffiths 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 10-15 57.

Elgin (5-6, 1-4)

Williams 7 7-11 24, Sedlack 3 3-3 10, Bednar 1 2-6 4,  Sitter 1 0-0 2, Mari 1 0-0 2, Gibson 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 13-22 43.

St. Charles East     13     13     11     20     --     57
Elgin                       14      6      12     11     --     43

Three-point goals – SCE: 3 (Stephens 2, Asquni). Elgin: 4 (Williams 3, Sedlack). Fouled out – SCE: Adduci. Elgin: Sitter, Sedlack.

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