Stevenson’s Brunson, Cashaw no passing fad
Stevenson's Connor Cashaw (35) drives during the fourth quarter of the Class 4A Prospect Regional final against Waukegan Friday. Stevenson won the game 76-49. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:58AM
MT. PROSPECT — The Stevenson boys basketball team knows a thing or two about dishing out dimes.
In Friday’s Class 4A Prospect Regional final — which the Patriots won handily over Waukegan, 76-49 — it was a pair of sophomores who once again stole the show in that department.
Specifically, it was Jalen Brunson (19 points, nine assists) and Connor Cashaw (17 points, five assists). Both have tremendous court vision for a pair of kids in the second year of their varsity careers.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who can score a lot of different ways,” Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said. “Outside, inside ... so if you just share the ball and move it around, the assists will start to add up.
“We don’t look at them (Brunson and Cashaw) as sophomores, we look at them as players who can pass, can score and when they get bodied up a little bit, be able to give it up at the right time. And they do that. They’re willing to share.”
Many of Stevenson’s assists have originated from an efficient transition game. Brunson’s speedy outlet passes from the point guard position are often a thing of beauty.
“My teammates who are older have shown confidence in me, to get the ball to me and I try to put them in a good position to score,” Brunson said. “And they’ve been able to finish really well.”
Brunson’s on-court chemistry with Cashaw, who is arguably the Patriots’ most efficient post player and is the recipient of a large percentage of Brunson’s feeds, is undeniable.
“You know, Connor’s a big guy who gets a lot of points inside,” Brunson said. “So a lot of teams like to collapse on him. So we’re all ready to spot up and shoot (when he passes out of the post). He gets a lot of his assists that way.”
During a nonconference game last month against Evanston, Brunson and Cashaw combined for 10 assists in a victory that was part of a 15-game winning streak by the Patriots.
Headed into a Waukegan Sectional semifinal game against North Suburban Conference rival Mundelein — scheduled for Tuesday — Stevenson’s unselfishness might be its defining characteristic as a club.
“We’ve had great ball distribution,” Cashaw said. “A lot of our points have been spread out (at different spots on the court). “Jalen does a really good job of finding whoever’s open, or attacking the basket when he thinks there’s a weak spot.
“Over the years, one of the things I’ve been really working most on is my passing. Creating for my teammates, creating my own shot. A lot of my teammates can shoot, so when I feed them the ball, a lot of times they’re gonna finish. And when guys are passing the ball and sharing it a lot, those guys who don’t usually get a lot of assists will also start to.”
Brunson and Cashaw’s coach is simply glad to have them.
“They’ve both become such good facilitators,” Ambrose said. “Great chemistry, smart with the basketball. It’s great to see.”