Jalen Brunson woke up at about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday and noticed that Stevenson’s team bus had just passed O’Hare Airport.
The Patriots’ game time at the Lyons Thanksgiving tournament in LaGrange was scheduled for 7 p.m., and Brunson knew his team was going to be late.
‘‘I started to freak out,’’ Brunson said. ‘‘But then I calmed down, put some music on and just tried to relax. That hasn’t happened to us before so I guess it’s a learning experience.’’
The Patriots arrived late but made it out onto the court quickly, and tip-off was only delayed 15 minutes. It turns out traffic may have been host Lyons’ best defense.
Nothing was able to slow down Stevenson once the bus arrived as the top-ranked Patriots cruised to a 71-39 win.
‘‘Chicago traffic — I should have known better,’’ Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose said.
Brunson scored 30 points and handed out five assists.
When he checked out of the game early in the fourth quarter Lyons’ entire team had scored 33. The Lions didn’t try schemes or tricks, they chose to guard Brunson one-on-one.
‘‘We noticed that right away,’’ Ambrose said. ‘‘I just thought ‘OK, you’re gonna pick that poison.’ [Brunson] is always ready. It’s awfully tough to beat us if that is the strategy.’’
Brunson shot 10 for 15 from the field. Connor Cashaw added seven points and 10 rebounds and sophomore Justin Smith had 12 points with 12 boards.
‘‘I can’t control how the other team is going to defend us,’’ Brunson said. ‘‘It’s just important that I recognize what they are doing as quickly as possible.’’
Lyons’ gym was fairly full for a Thanksgiving week game, the first sign that Brunson and the Patriots (2-0) will be one of the area’s top attractions this season.
A large Lyons student section stood for the entire game, relishing opportunities to heckle Brunson at the free throw line.
‘‘That just adds fuel to the fire,’’ Brunson said. ‘‘I use it as motivation, it’s actually a real sign of respect when so many people show up.’’
Senior Jaquan Phipps led the Lions (0-1) with nine points and 10 rebounds. Harrison Niego added nine points and five boards and senior Sean Lannan scored eight.
Lyons was able to hang with Stevenson for one quarter. After a 10-2 burst early in the second quarter the Patriots never looked back.