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Fleming sets pace for Stevenson

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Fleming sets pace for Stevenson

When Mike Fleming was in seventh grade, Stevenson's basketball team was 27-7 and finished fourth in the Class AA tournament. He attended a lot of games, including the Elite Eight finals in Peoria.

It was a wonderful and eye-opening experience. He enjoyed watching Stevenson's Jong Lee, Kevin Stineman and Dylan Richter and even got an up-close-and-personal view of a young Simeon star named Derrick Rose.

"It never crossed my mind that Stevenson basketball wasn't as big as football or baseball," Fleming said. "As I got into the program, playing as a freshman and sophomore, I could see it wasn't that big. Not a lot of people showed up unless it was Warren or Libertyville or a playoff game."

Times have changed. Stevenson is 8-1 after overwhelming Streamwood 60-36 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Wheeling Holiday Tournament.

The Patriots have defeated highly rated Warren and previously unbeaten Libertyville and lost only to newly crowned Elgin Holiday Tournament champion Elgin in overtime.

Against Streamwood, Fleming converted four three-point shots and
finished with 19 points and five assists. Colby Cashew added 13 points.

"We have potential to be better than the 27-7 team," coach Pat Ambrose said. "We have a young team. We have a freshman starter and a freshman coming off the bench. And we have a sophomore who plays starter minutes. We are a work in progress. But the talent is there. We can be as good as the 2007 team if we keep on moving forward and improving."

Fleming agrees. The 6-foot senior guard is the team leader and its leading scorer (18 ppg). He also is the smartest guy in the locker room with a 29 ACT and a 4.1 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale in advanced placement courses. He wants to major in economics and play basketball in college, maybe at Colgate or Bucknell or Princeton or Cornell.

"This year is so much different than last year," Fleming said. "Last year, we were 15-13. Some guys were figuring out what their roles were and wanted to have a different role instead of doing what they had to do for the team to be successful.

"But everybody is buying into it this year. Everybody has the same mindset. Everybody wants to play basketball. In the past, the mindset was mixed. This year, everybody is close on and off the floor. Everybody enjoys playing with each other. And everybody knows their role."

Fleming is joined in the starting lineup by 6-6 senior Colby Cashaw (8 ppg, 8 rpg), 6-foot freshman guard Jalen Brunson (7 ppg, 6 assists), 6-3 junior Andy Stemple (4 ppg) and 6-6 senior Chandler Simon or 6-1 sophomore Matt Morrissey. Another valuable contributor is 6-2 freshman Connor Cashaw, Colby's brother.

Brunson, son of Chicago Bulls assistant coach and former Temple and 10-year NBA player Rick Brunson, is a prototypical point guard. He scored 22 points against Libertyville. Morrissey, son of former Chicago Bears star Jim Morrissey, is a late addition from the football team.

"Brunson has great potential," Ambrose said. "He is a piece to our puzzle right now. He isn't a star player but he gets oohs and aahs from the crowd because of the moves he makes. But he fits into our team concept."

Ambrose, 43, is in his 14th year as head coach at the Lincolnshire high school. A 1987 graduate of Naperville North, he was mentored by several outstanding high school coaches--Naperville North's Dick Whitaker, Proviso West's Mark Schneider and Hoffman Estates' Bill Wandro. When he applied at Stevenson, Warren's Chuck Ramsey put in a good word for him.

"I didn't know much about Stevenson," Ambrose said. "I knew it had untapped potential in basketball. I knew it was more known for football and baseball because of past success. But I didn't think we couldn't win there. We had to get everybody on the same page, get the kids working in the same direction, straighten out the feeder program, get more kids interested in basketball, let them see Stevenson basketball in a better light."

To relate to the kids, he put together a crack staff. Assistant Brent Mork has been with him for the last four years. Paul Swan has been coaching basketball at Stevenson for 43 years. A member of the Lake County Hall of Fame, Swan has been a volunteer varsity assistant for the last six years.

Ambrose was disappointed with last year's 15-13 team, which lost to Mundelein in the regional semifinal for the third time. "We should have been better. We had more talent than we showed, eight seniors who didn't put it all together. We didn't do a good job from A to Z, offense or defense," he said.

But this year's team could be better. "I keep telling the kids: 'The future is in front of you. The past is history. The future is a mystery.' I keep asking them what we can do today to make ourselves better," the coach said.

"Coach Ambrose is known for his sayings and quotes. He has so many of them. All of them relate to the team," Fleming said. "He says this a lot and puts in on the board: 'Play hard, play smart, play together.' That's his No. 1 saying."

Fleming has been in the program for four years and he has heard all of Ambrose's sayings. And he sees changes that he likes, things he never saw before, like a student cheering section. "It won't be long before somebody comes up with a name for them," he said.

But the most fun is on the floor. Fleming scored 27 points against Elgin and Zion-Benton and 16 in Stevenson's victory over Warren. The fever is catching on among the students and the community.

"This year, we have had success and we have talent. The gym has been packed for every game," Fleming said. "It is cool to have some big games. It is awesome to do it in front of family and friends.

"It excites me. It is rare to see two freshmen (Dunson and Connor Cashaw) with such raw talent. It is awesome to play with young guys who can come in and play in varsity games and have an impact. I didn't expected them to be as good as they are. It helps our team that much more.

"We will surprise a lot of people. I think a lot people, even after our Warren win, still doubted us. They thought it was lucky or a fluke. But I hope, after our Libertyville win, that people will realize we are a very talented team, that we are definitely for real. People should recognize that and not take us lightly. It would be a dream to play Simeon in the Class 4A final."

Has the coach got a saying for that?

What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

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AP

What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

It was never a matter of if and only a matter of when Patrick Kane would reach 1,000 career NHL points. He tried his best not to let it creep into his mind as he got closer to the number, but it was difficult not to.

Kane entered Sunday's game sitting at 999 points after picking up one the night before on Hockey Night in Canada to extend his point streak to nine games. He needed only one more to make history and did so, fittingly, in front of a sold-out United Center crowd of 21,487.

Kane recorded the secondary assist on Brandon Saad's goal in the third period to make it 4-1 and the entire team left the bench to mob Kane thanks to captain Jonathan Toews, who orchestrated the ordeal and cleared it with league officials. 

"What a moment, obviously, with everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that moment with me," Kane said following a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. "You see some faces in that pile that have been a big part of a lot of those points, whether it’s been [Toews] or [Duncan Keith] or [Alex] DeBrincat recently, [Saad] to finish it off I think was pretty cool. ... As far as everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that with me is something I’ll never forget."

Kane became the youngest American-born player to hit the 1,000-point mark and fourth player in Blackhawks history to accomplish that feat, joining Denis Savard (1,096), Bobby Hull (1,153) and Stan Mikita (1,497). Only 89 other players in NHL history are part of the 1,000-point club; Kane makes it 90.

[RELATED: Kane first star interview]

"He's one of those elite players," Brandon Saad said. "He's one of those few who can achieve goals like that. All you can say is good things about him. He's a special player. He keeps getting better with age. He's fun to play with."

It was a memorable night in Chicago, but there was something missing. Kane’s parents couldn't attend due to inclement weather in their hometown of Buffalo. His dad, Pat Kane Sr., made it to all 41 home games last season.

“It’s tough not having them here,” Kane said. “They’ve been a big part of my career. I’m sure I’ll talk to them after this and hopefully there will be some better moments in the future that they’ll be here for.”

Kane’s list of accolades in his NHL career is only getting longer and will continue to get longer. Three Stanley Cups. Conn Smythe Trophy recipient. Art Ross Trophy winner. League MVP. Now a member of the 1,000-point club.

"It’s special," Kane said. "I’ve been very fortunate in my career, whether it’s been getting drafted by Chicago or making some decisions when I was younger to move away at 14 years old, a freshman in high school, forgo college and play in London for a year.

"Obviously, Chicago winning the lottery, getting drafted by Chicago, then having a lot of good pieces in place here with some great players where we could turn the corner pretty fast and become a good team. There were a lot of things that were lined up. When you reach a milestone like this you think of all those players you played with that had a big part of it. It’s been a fun ride."

Even though he’s accomplished just about everything in his hockey life, Kane is still hungry for more.

[RELATED: Kane's road to 1,000 career points]

So what’s next?

"1,001," Kane laughed. "Start there and then move forward."

But really, there's only one goal.

"Maybe a few more Cups," Kane said to Chicago crowd after being named No. 1 star of the game. "That would be nice, right?"

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Patrick Kane receives the championship belt from Jonathan Toews after getting to 1K

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USA TODAY

Patrick Kane receives the championship belt from Jonathan Toews after getting to 1K

Patrick Kane added a special milestone onto the Blackhawks' fifth-straight win, scoring the 1,000th point of his NHL career.

Kane was emotional after the overall awesome night capped off by his amazing feat. Jonathan Toews made sure that Kane received the "championship belt" that the Blackhawks give to the team's top player after every win. Toews called it a  "no brainer" of a decision. 

Kane was overjoyed and emotional speaking tp his teammates, stating, "that was absolutely unreal, obviously getting 1,000 points but having you guys come on the ice there and share it with me was a great moment."

Obviously the big focus on the night was Kaner's amazing career achievement but even he wanted to make sure the overall team success doesn't go unnoticed. Kane knows how confident the team is right now and wants to keep the wins going. 

[RELATED: Patrick Kane makes NHL history]

"It's been fun here for a long time," stated Kane, and with 1,000 career points and No. 88 hopefully a Chicago Blackhawk for the rest of his career, it will be fun for much, much longer.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.