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Mundelein High School - 01/11/13 - Chino Ebube (2) of Mundelein High School gets a good look at the basket as he goes up for two points during their game against Stevenson High School on Friday, January 11, 2013 in Mundelein. |Darrell Harmon~for Sun-Time
Midway through the third quarter, Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson dove for a loose ball and wound up banging his left elbow on the court. The sophomore winced in pain while swinging his his arm, trying to get the blood flowing again. Patriots head coach Pat Ambrose asked Brunson if he wanted to come out of the game, but the guard shook his head no. He’d play through it.
The injury looked painful, but didn’t seem to bother Brunson’s game too much. Just a few possessions after his fall, Brunson crossed over to his left, spun around a defender and sank a beautiful fadeaway. The jumper sparked a 19-4 run that turned around the game for the 21st-ranked Patriots, helping them to a 71-61 victory over host Mundelein in North Suburban Lake action Friday night.
“It hurt, but I just stuck with it. Can’t let that little thing get to my head,” Brunson said of his injury.
Brunson was dominant in the second half, scoring at will whenever Stevenson (12-4, 5-1) needed a basket. He finished the game with 29 points – 20 after halftime – scoring on floaters in the paint, reverse lay-ins, long three-pointers and the smooth fadeaway following his fall. Standing 6-foot-2, Brunson is tall enough to shoot over opponents and also quick enough to score off the dribble when he has a lane to the hoop.
“I just started to play harder after halftime,” Brunson said. “I felt confident in my jump shot, so I just kept shooting.”
Down by one at halftime, Ambrose didn’t try to spark the Patriots with any sort of inspirational speech during the break. Instead, he told them to keep running their offense, keep looking for Brunson and fellow sophomore Connor Cashaw, and play a bit smarter.
The strategy worked. Both players caught fire, taking the standing-room only crowd out of the game and giving Stevenson a comfortable lead for much of the fourth quarter. Cashaw finished with 19 points, including nine in the fourth.
Sean O’Brien led the Mustangs (8-7, 4-2) with 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists.