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Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson doesn’t need a pass. He doesn’t even need to be open. If Brunson has the ball anywhere on the Patriots’ half of the court, he’s a deadly threat to score.
The junior poured in 34 points to lead Stevenson to an 84-73 win over St. Viator Tuesday in a Class 4A Lake Zurich Sectional semifinal.
“I was feeling it from outside, but I couldn’t hit a free throw to save my life,” Brunson said.
Brunson shot 12-for-19, including 6-for-9 from three. Several of his three-pointers were from NBA range and several with a man in his face, but he shot 4-for-10 from the free-throw line.
“He was there with the dagger,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. “They were right on him. It’s not like they left him. No passes sometimes too. That’s him. He’s very, very good.”
Brunson isn’t sure what range he’s comfortable shooting from at from this point in his career.
“Depends on the moment,” Brunson said.
Stevenson (29-1) dominated the second quarter to take a 45-28 lead. The Lions (23-4) spent the second half battling back, but got only as close as 78-71 after Roosevelt Smart’s rebound and basket with 1:06 to play.
“We played well in the first half and kind of stuck it out in the second,” Ambrose said. “Give [St. Viator] credit, they weren’t going to give up.”
It wasn’t just Brunson who was hot from outside. The Patriots shot 12-for-21 from three-point range.
“It was ridiculous,” St. Viator’s Ore Arogundade said. “I’ve never seen a team shoot like that in my life.”
Both teams feature 4-6 players that can handle the ball, shoot well and get to the basket. Neither team has much going on in the post, which made Stevenson’s hot shooting even more deadly for St. Viator.
“It’s the effort they put in in the offseason,” Ambrose said. “It’s the dedication.”
Junior Connor Cashaw scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Patriots, and Matt Johnson added 14 points.
“[St. Viator] is a really good team with really good weapons,” Brunson said. “We needed a big game as a team.”
Arogundade finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Smart added 17 points and seven rebounds. Arogundade, a Drake recruit, waved to St. Viator’s large crowd as he left the game late in the fourth quarter.
“I wanted to say goodbye, to thank the community for all the great support they’ve given me over these three and a half years,” Arogundade said.