Patriots place their trust in Stempel
Stevenson's Andrew Stempel (with ball) passes around St. Charles East's Kendall Stephens. | Stacia Timonere~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:43AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — In Stempel we trust.
That’s the pervasive feeling the Stevenson’s boys basketball team has about 6-foot-3 senior guard Andy Stempel.
Take, for example, the 300-mile trip to Camp Horseshoe in Rhinelander, Wis., Stempel made over the summer. He served as a summer camp counselor and a basketball coach for youth boys.
“I went to that camp when I was a kid,” Stempel said. “I really enjoyed it, so I wanted to give something back.”
Two of the campers were the sons of Patriots coach — and camp leader — Pat Ambrose. All of the campers’ cabins were located about two miles away from Ambrose and the other camp leaders, but that fact didn’t concern Ambrose.
“My wife was like, ‘Are you sure you want to let them go?’ ” Ambrose recalled. “I said, ‘Don’t worry, Andy Stempel has got this.’ I trust him with my most prized possessions (his kids).”
Stempel welcomed the responsibility with no reservations.
“His kids are great,” Stempel said. “It’s a great feeling knowing he trusts me to watch over his kids. It’s a trust relationship.”
On the court, Stempel is entrusted with making the right plays to help the Patriots win. Stevenson was 9-2 on Dec. 27 after taking out St. Charles East and Hinsdale Central in the first two rounds of the 52nd annual Proviso West Holiday Tournament.
“I feel like for me to be a good ‘glue’ guy, it’s better if I can defend, rebound and make open shots,” Stempel said.
It took some old-fashioned hard work to develop Stempel’s jumper. He said he doesn’t know how many jump shots he would take during a typical offseason practice, but teammate Jalen Brunson encouraged him to shoot — and then shoot some more.
“Both Andy and I got into the gym a lot in the summer,” said Brunson, a sophomore. “We’d always ask each other, ‘Did you shoot today?’ ”
The hard work has allowed Stempel to trust himself when the ball comes to him in a shooting position.
“If I’m open, I’m confident in my ability,” Stempel said. “I feel like I can create my own shot. If not, I can work the ball around and set screens.”
When the Patriots hit the practice floor, the players trust Stempel to set the tone.
“His motor is working all the time,” Brunson said. “If there’s a sluggish player, Andy will get on him.”
But when Stempel sets his own goals, he often turns to assistant coach John Taylor for guidance.
“John said the greatest moment of his life was going to state,” said Stempel, who was aware that the Patriots finished fourth at Class 2A state in 2007. “I was in sixth grade, and I watched them on TV.”