Stevenson celebrates basketball team’s journey to state final
The captains of Stevenson's boys basketball team thank their supporters Monday morning after hundreds of Patriot fans cheered the team on last weekend at the state tournament in Peoria. | Ronnie Wachter~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 20, 2013 2:19AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Looking every bit as tired, and let down, as a group that fought and lost to the Goliath of their field, Stevenson’s boys basketball players came home to a brief celebration Monday morning.
There was plenty for coach Pat Ambrose and his squad to feel good about — this was the first Patriot team to make the state final — but the runner-up trophy and the net from the Carver Arena in Peoria sat untouched on the floor of the stage.
SHS lost 58-40 to Simeon Career Academy on Saturday in the Class 4A championship; the Wolverines have now won four consecutive titles, and featured Jabari Parker, whom Sports Illustrated has already labeled as the expected number-one pick in the National Basketball Association’s 2014 draft. The Patriots had not lost since New Year’s Eve, until they ran into one of the most dominant teams Chicago has ever produced, which travels out-of-state to play other national powers.
The ceremony began around 7:30 on a gloomy, snowy morning in the school’s Sports Center. About 100 students and parents stood in front of a stage, cheering as each of the team’s members were introduced. The three captains said little, mainly “Thanks.” By 8 a.m., the gym was empty, the sole spotlight turned off and the overheads coming on for the first phys-ed class.
After the ceremony, several of the players’ parents spoke about the support their sons felt during their battle to the finals.
“Ecstatic, I think that’s the best way to describe it,” said Sandra Brunson, mother of sophomore guard Jalen.
“When I saw all the students in the stands during the game, I nearly started crying,” said Marianne Fleisher, mother of junior forward Matthew.
Ambrose said the experience had been unforgettable.
“I’m feeling emotionally drained, but supercharged inside,” he said.
He hoped that charge would get him through the day — the coach is also a social studies teacher, and his usual Monday morning awaited.
“I’d better get to my class here pretty soon,” he said.