Stevenson holds off Rockford Boylan, reaches state semis
DEKALB Tuesday Mar 12 2013 Stevenson's Matthew Morrissey (20) celebrates with Jalen Brunson (15) after their win against Boylan.| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 14, 2013 7:12PM
DEKALB — The last time Stevenson and Rockford Boylan met in the postseason, the Patriots won going away.
Six years later, the sequel was a knock-down, drag-out game that was fitting of a Class 4A DeKalb Supersectional contest.
After leading by 11 points at the end of the third quarter, Stevenson (28-4) held off a ferocious rally to defeat Rockford Boylan 73-67 and advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2007.
“I love this team. We earned it tonight,” said senior Andy Stempel, who finished with 18 points.
When sophomore forward Cameron Green tipped in basket to make it 64-54 with 4:07 left, it looked as though the Patriots could punch their ticket to Peoria for Friday. But the Titans promptly went on a 13-6 run, capped by a 3-point shot from senior Ben Grygiel (game-high 27 points) which made it 70-67 with 46.7 seconds left.
Rockford Boylan (22-9) put Stevenson on the free throw line next. It worked, as junior Matt Morrissey missed two foul shots to give the Titans the ball with a chance to tie with just over 15 seconds remaining.
But on the potential game-tying possession, the Patriots forced Titans senior guard Frank Cimino to throw the ball away just in front of the left 3-point line. Brunson was fouled, and he converted one free throw with 12.7 left. Connor Cashaw (team-high 22 points) ended the scoring with two free throws.
“They played us hard, they are a great team,” Cashaw said. “This means a lot.”
The victory was Stevenson’s 18th in a row and the Patriots escaped with Brunson not playing his best game.
Determined to not let the Patriots’ elusive guard beat them, the Titans stuck senior guard Demarcus Vines on Brunson. His aggressive man-to-man worked for the first quarter, as Brunson had two turnovers and zero points.
But it was the lights-out shooting of Stempel and Cashaw — who combined to go 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half — that carried the Patriots to a 41-33 halftime lead.
“We had a bunch of seniors and didn’t want our season to end,” Vines said. “At the end of the day, we couldn’t get the job done.”