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Stevenson cleans up in finale at Buffalo Grove
By Larry Weindruch | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 11/24/2012 11:22 PM

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Stevenson’s boys basketball team found out a lot about itself while successfully completing a four-game championship sweep in the Bison Classic Saturday at Buffalo Grove.

The Patriots defeated the host Bison 75-67 in the rivalry contest that traditionally brings the five-team tournament to a close, and sophomores Connor Cashaw and Jalen Brunson were voted to the All-Tournament team along with BG standout Luke Potnick.

“It shows we can win, but we haven’t played our best game yet,” said point guard Justin Berkson, starting for the second game in a row while the injured Brunson watched from the bench in street clothes.

“We got on our heels in the second half,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. “I’m very happy with the win, but we’re looking for improvement in several areas. We’re right on target.”

Cashaw, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, when the Patriots raced out to a 44-29 lead, and finished strong with 7 points in the fourth quarter.

The Bison (2-2) limited Stevenson to just 10 points in the third quarter and cut the margin to 54-43 heading into the final period.

“Maybe we had too much turkey,” Ambrose joked. “They’re a good team.”

“They sped us up (in the second half),” Cashaw said.

“We tried to clean some things up defensively,” Buffalo Grove coach Ryan O’Connor said. “I thought Stevenson got to the basket in the first half, and in the second half, we were able to do better.

“They’re a talented team and do a nice job of moving the ball,” O’Connor said. “We were just a half step slower.”

Potnick, who finished with 24 points, including 6 3-pointers, made 3 from long range in the fourth quarter, leading a Bison rally that brought them to within 70-65 with 13.7 seconds remaining.

After Andrew Apel’s basket made it a 72-67 ballgame, the Bison called a timeout that it didn’t have with 4.2 seconds remaining and were hit with a technical foul. Cashaw hit the second of 2 free throws, and Andrew Stempel (15 points) made a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds left to ice it.

“We’re a confident team, but we always know we can get better,” Cashaw said.

“We don’t have a whole lot of experience this year,” O’Connor said. “We got a wakeup call against Elgin earlier in the week, and the kids have responded.

“We can play with energy,” O’Connor said. “The next step is execution.”