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Proviso East has relied heavily, perhaps a little too heavily, on star forward Sterling Brown this season.
That wasn’t a problem Tuesday night.
Brown was the focus of a swarming Hinsdale South defense and was limited to just six shots, but he used his other skills well and got plenty of help from a supporting cast that included senior swingman Braden Jenkins, who came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points.
That was more than enough to boost No. 6 Proviso East to a 76-52 West Suburban Gold victory over the host Hornets in Darien.
“When Branden plays the way he played tonight, along with Jevon Carter, we obviously need those two guys to help us,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “On nights like this when Sterling was being more of a facilitator, we need other guys to step up and play their roles.”
Jenkins sank 8 of 10 shots from the floor, including his last six, and added five rebounds and two assists. His first basket came with 3:17 left in the first quarter when he made a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup that made it 7-5 and put the Pirates (11-3, 3-0) ahead to stay.
But it was Jenkins’ second score – a thunderous tomahawk dunk - that turned the tide. The jam made it 12-6 but more important got the crowd, and with it the Pirates, fired up.
“I had a wide-open lane so I took it,” Jenkins said. “I just came out and played my game; going to the rim and attacking the rim. It was big because I got my confidence back and got in the flow of the rotation.”
Brown added a dunk of his own four minutes later and Jenkins finished the first half with 13 points as the visitors grabbed a 37-25 advantage.
“[Jenkins] has that ability,” Boyce said. “The thing with him is he just has to understand we need him to play inside-outside, not outside-in.
“He can knock down the open three and the open perimeter shot, but his strength is slashing to the basket and I thought that dunk got our energy back up, got our guys revved back up and it really helped us stretch that [lead] out.”
The play of Jenkins helped the Pirates overcome an injury to Carter, who was elbowed in the eye but returned in the second half, though he was limited to three points. But Paris Lee picked up the slack, drilling a trio of three-pointers in the third quarter as the Pirates extended the lead to 59-38.
Lee finished with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go along with four steals. Brown made 5 of 6 shots and wound up with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“They’re a special team,” Hinsdale South coach Tanner Mitchell said. “They’ve got special athletes and I thought our kids competed and played hard. I thought if we could have knocked down a couple of open threes that we had in the first half, we could have hung around a little tighter.”
The Hornets (3-12, 1-4) hung around in the first half by making 15 of 18 free throws. But they were just 4-for-21 from the floor before intermission, compared to 15-for-27 for Proviso East.
Jerry Stoltz scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half for the Hornets. Marcel Phillips added 13 points, five boards and three steals.