OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Stevenson men's basketball junior Justin Kuntz totaled 20 points, 14 rebounds and four steals as the Mustangs defeated in-state rival Hood 83-72 in the semifinals of the Commonwealth Conference Men's Basketball Championship Wednesday night at Owings Mills Gymnasium.
Stevenson (19-7), posted its first victory in a conference tournament since Feb. 24, 2007 when it beat Chestnut Hill 94-92 to capture the North Eastern Athletic Conference title. The Mustangs improved their record to 8-4 all-time in conference tournaments, including 6-0 at home.
With 19 wins, Stevenson is just one shy of posting its third 20-win season overall and first since 2006-07 when it was 20-8. The team also went 20-9 during the 2005-06 season.
Kuntz posted his eighth double double of the season and his third in which he had at least 20 points. He led five players in double figures with sophomore Erik Fisher adding 16, senior Alfonzo Hawkins with 13 and freshman Darius Walker and junior Colby Giacubeno each contributing 11.
Holding a 15-14 lead with 13:19 remaining in the first half, the Mustangs finished on a 20-5 run to take a 16-point halftime advantage. The team shot 43.8 percent for the half while the Blazers shot just 24.1 percent and were outrebounded, 28-18.
The second half was a game of runs with the Blazers (17-10) scoring 12 of the first 13 points to pull within seven before Stevenson answered with a 12-4 spurt to go back in front by 15, 50-35 with 14:54 to play.
Led by nine points from Cameron Cook and seven from Chris Cook, Hood used a 21-8 run over the next 6:04 to cut its deficit to just two at 58-56 with 8:50 left following Cameron Cook's sixth three-pointer of the game.
However, that would be as close as the Blazers would get as Kuntz totaled seven points and the Mustangs went 6-of-9 from the free throw line over the final seven minutes to secure an opportunity to win its first conference championship since 2007.
Fisher finished with 16 points and six rebounds, scoring 11 points in the opening half while Walker totaled 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Cameron Cook led all scorers with 26 points, 21 of which came from three-point range where he was 7-for-12. Justin Bowens finished with 14 points.
Stevenson will host second-seeded Alvernia in Saturday's Commonwealth Conference championship game with tip-off tentatively scheduled for 3:00 p.m. The two teams, picked first and second in conference preseason poll, split their season series with the top-seeded Mustangs winning at home 75-52 on November 26.