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Article updated: 1/27/2012 11:32 PM
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Special night for Warren seniors
 

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Special night for Warren seniors
Bill Pemstein

This was no ordinary senior night.

Not simply a gentle wave to the crowd by the 12th-graders at Warren.

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No, they brought out the big show Friday night in Gurnee. And included in the festivities were speeches by the underclassmen about those nine seniors on coach John Stanczykiewicz's squad.

There were plenty of sad faces on the Warren team. And then it was time to play the North Suburban Lake Division game against visiting Zion-Benton.

Lexi Leneau scored 19 points and fellow senior Amanda Barger added 12, as Warren stopped the Zee-Bees 42-36.

Warren (16-8) finishes 8-4 in the NSC Lake.

"It was emotional," said Leneau, a four-year varsity starter. "This team is almost like a family."

All the tears had dried by halftime.

And a good reason for that was the visitors had trouble finding the basket.

Shania Thompson's steal and bucket gave Zion-Benton a 6-4 lead halfway through the first quarter. The Zee-Bees didn't score another field goal for more than nine minutes. Warren went on an 11-0 run in the meantime and held an 18-11 halftime lead.

Leading the charge in that second quarter was Youngstown State-bound Barger. Her 7-point run extended the Blue Devils' advantage. On Barger's last basket of the game, the Warren lead looked solid at 27-16. There were three minutes to play in the third quarter.

That's when Zion-Benton made its charge. When Kaitlyn Stabenow's second 3-pointer in a one-minute span fell through the net, the Warren lead was down to a single basket at 27-25.

The fourth quarter would see Barger foul out. That's when Leneau began to take over.

"This win was a good win for the Blue Devils,'' Stanczykiewicz said. "After Amanda fouled out, Alexis took over and made the plays, especially in the last (five) minutes. She refused to lose."

Leneau's 12-footer helped Warren open a 35-29 lead. She scored Warren's last 9 points.

"It wasn't like, 'Oh, my God, Amanda is out of the game," Leneau said. "We had to keep our cool."

Zion-Benton wasn't quite finished making runs at Warren. Another Stabenow 3-pointer fell in the final minute. And when Samantha Rodriguez (10 points) scored, the Zee-Bees were within 39-36.

Octavia Crump paced the Zee-Bees with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Warren inside presence Jessica Prince added 5 points and 8 rebounds.

Warren earned the sixth seed in the Palatine sectional and will host a regional.

Stanczykiewicz is glad senior night is over because it isn't easy bidding farewell to a bunch like this.

"Senior night was a challenge," he said. "It was an emotional night. This was a fun group to coach. They were really great teammates."

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