Patriots will have to contend with Edwardsville’s size
Stevenson celebrates afer beating Rockford Boylan in Tuesday's supersectional. The Patriots play Edwardsville in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 14, 2013 7:10PM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Stevenson senior Jack Duffy walked into his physics class 10 minutes late Wednesday.
He had permission. The previous night, Duffy and the Patriots boys basketball team had advanced to the state semifinals with a win over Rockford Boylan. It had been a later-than-normal school night.
When he entered the class Wednesday morning, students were taking a quiz. That didn’t stop his teacher, Deanna Warkins, from delivering a message.
“She yelled out, ‘State bound!’ ” Duffy said. “Sums up my day.”
Duffy took his physics quiz. His thoughts since then have shifted mostly to basketball.
Stevenson plays downstate power Edwardsville on Friday in a Class 4A state semifinal game at 8:15 p.m. in Peoria. The winner advances to the state championship game Saturday to face the winner of the other state semifinal game between Proviso East and Simeon. It is the second time the Patriots have played in a state semifinal game. In 2007, Stevenson lost to O’Fallon.
This year’s Stevenson team has dominated opponents. Over its 18-game winning streak, Stevenson has won by at least 10 points in all but two games. Tuesday’s supersectional win was by a 6-point margin, 73-67. The Patriots used six players in that game and needed contributions from everyone to win.
Edwardsville, a 30-victory team, has been similarly dominant. It won its five postseason games by an average margin of 19 points.
“They are big and strong and crash hard,” senior guard Andy Stempel said of an Edwardsville Tigers team featuring four starters listed at 6-foot-5. “Downstate (basketball) doesn’t get as much credit but they are pretty good.”
With just one Patriots player — sophomore Parker Nichols — listed at 6-4, Stevenson’s ability to handle the Tigers’ size could be the dominate storyline come Friday.
“Their size and athleticism give you pause,” Patriots coach Pat Ambrose said. “They are similar to Morgan Park and Oswego, one of the top teams we’ve faced all year.”
One way for Stevenson to counter its opponent’s size is to shoot well. In the first half of Tuesday’s supersectional game, the Patriots made 10-of-17 3-point shots, which carried them to a 41-33 lead over a Rockford Boylan team featuring big-time post player Ben Grygiel. Stevenson also managed to outrebound the Titans 38-26.
If the Patriots take care of the glass and limit the Tigers’ possessions Friday, it could lead to a berth in Saturday’s championship game.
But the Patriots are trying not to get ahead of themselves. Preparation this week has been exclusively on beating Edwardsville.