For the old guy, Andy Stempel does OK for himself.
Stempel is part of a four-guard lineup for Stevenson that also features two sophomores and a junior who are among the most dynamic young players in the area.
The lone senior of the four, which also includes sophomores Jalen Brunson and Connor Cashaw and junior Matt Morrissey, Stempel is valued for his experience and savvy.
When our young guys get down or when something goes wrong, I can kind of give them some advice since Ive been around for a while and Ive been through a lot, Stempel said. Those guys are maybe more skilled or athletic than me, but I can help them with other parts of the game.
Dont mistake Stempel for a role player, though.
He is just as integral to the team as Stevensons heralded and hyped young guns.
Just ask Mundelein. The Mustangs couldnt afford to take Stempel for granted on Wednesday night. He scored 18 points and hit three clutch 3-pointers to help Stevenson pull out a 78-68 victory over Mundelein in the semifinals of the Class 4A sectional at Waukegans old-school East Campus gym.
Top-seeded Stevenson, which moves to 26-4, will face the winner of todays 7:30 p.m. semifinal at Waukegan between No. 2 Zion-Benton and No. 3 St. Viator.
Fifth-seeded Mundelein closes out the season with an 18-14 record.
Andy is definitely our captain in a lot of ways, Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. He talks on the floor, he puts players into place. Hes settled and really solid. It goes a long way for us to have an experienced kid like him on the floor.
The young guys held up their end of the bargain, too.
Brunson scored a game-high 28 points and Cashaw added 18 points as Stevenson broke open a tight game in the fourth quarter by getting to the basket and drawing fouls.
The Patriots, who hit 12 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter, were up by just two points at halftime (32-30) and were up by only 1 point (45-44) with 1:10 to play in the third. But in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, they began to pull away.
We didnt play our best ball in the fourth quarter, said Mundelein senior guard Sean OBrien, who scored a team-high 23 points to go along with 13 rebounds. It came down to us just needing to take care of the ball better. We had some chances to convert and didnt and then they went on a run.
This is really hard. Ive been playing with most of these guys since fifth grade and with (senior guard) Robert (Knar) since fourth grade. Im going to be lost without them.
Knar, who returned a few weeks ago after missing most of the season while rehabbing from ACL knee surgery, managed to hit a significant personal milestone. He entered the game 4 points shy of the 2,000 point mark for his career. His 7 points in the game caps his four-year total at 2,003.
Besides OBrien, senior forward Chino Ebube also scored in double-figures for Mundelein. He had 16 points, including a thunderous dunk off the block that cut the Mustangs deficit to 7 points early in the fourth quarter.
When you get down against Stevenson, its tough to come back on them because they hit their free throws, and when you try to double on them, they hit open shots, Mundelein coach Dick Knar said. We just had a couple of bad possessions, a couple of bad choices, some turnovers and they capitalized on that at the other end.
I just wish I had another month with these guys. Weve had guys out this year, were just getting Robert back, Id really like to keep going with this team now. It feels like right now that were unfinished.