Brunson’s 29 lead Stevenson past Mundelein
Mundelein High School - 01/11/13 - Jalen Brunson (15) of Stevenson High School elevates for the shot during their game against Mundelein High School on Friday, January 11, 2013 in Mundelein. |Darrell Harmon~for Sun-Times Media
MUNDELEIN — Midway through the third quarter Friday night, Stevenson guard Jalen Brunson dove for a loose ball and banged his left elbow on the court.
The sophomore winced in pain while swinging his his arm. Patriots head coach Pat Ambrose asked Brunson if he wanted to come out of the game, but the guard shook his head no. He’d play through it.
The injury didn’t seem to bother Brunson’s game too much. Just a few possessions after his fall, Brunson crossed over to his left, spun around a defender and sank a beautiful fadeaway. The jumper sparked a 19-4 run that turned around the game for the 21st-ranked Patriots, helping them to a 71-61 victory over Mundelein in a North Suburban Conference Lake Division game.
“It hurt, but I just stuck with it. Can’t let that little thing get to my head,” Brunson said of his injury.
Brunson was dominant in the second half, seemingly scoring at will whenever Stevenson needed a basket. He finished the game with 29 points — 20 after halftime — scoring on floaters in the paint, reverse lay-ins, long 3-pointers and the smooth fadeaway following his fall. Standing 6-foot-2, Brunson is tall enough to shoot over opponents, and also quick enough to score off the dribble when he has a lane to the hoop.
“I just started to play harder after halftime,” Brunson said. “I felt confident in my jump shot, so I just kept shooting.”
Down by one at halftime, Ambrose didn’t try to spark the Patriots with any sort of inspirational speech during the break. Instead he told them to keep running their offense, looking for Brunson and fellow sophomore Connor Cashaw, and play a bit smarter.
The strategy worked. Both players caught fire, taking the standing-room-only crowd out of the game and giving Stevenson a comfortable lead for much of the fourth quarter. Cashaw finished with 19 points, including nine in the fourth.
Sean O’Brien led the Mustangs (8-7, 4-2) with 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Mundelein boys basketball team.