It's still so early in the boys basketball season; sometimes it's hard to figure out who will play the different roles on teams. That's obviously a concern of first-year head coach Ryan Webber and the Warren basketball team.
On Wednesday night in the Warren gym, Webber watched his young Blue Devils fall behind visiting North Chicago by as many as 18 points early in the fourth quarter and then one of those mystery juniors started firing up 3-pointers.
Was a star born on this night by the name of Eric Gillespie? All 5-foot-7 of him?
Gillespie scored a career-high 26 points. North Chicago's lead shrunk to 7 points but the Warhawks held on to post a 69-57 win in the Mundelein/Warren boys varsity Thanksgiving Tournament.
"Eric Gillespie played really well," Webber said. "He played with a lot of energy. And he can get really streaky."
Streaky on this night meant 13 points by himself in a three-minute spurt of the final quarter. That was officially three straight free throws, back-to-back 3-pointers and 2 more free throws. Those foul shots cut the North Chicago lead to 61-54 with three minutes to play.
Gillespie joined the varsity this year from a successful run on the sophomore team. Still, his best outing at that team was a 21-point night.
"I'm supposed to get my teammates the ball," Gillespie said. "And use my quickness to get to the lane. Tonight, it all started in warm-ups. And then after my second or third 3-pointer."
Unbeaten North Chicago (3-0) certainly had the hot shooter in the opening half. JaVairius Amos-Mays (24 points) had 10 points in both the first and second quarters. That included three dunk shots and two 3-pointers. The Warhawks opened up a quick 7-0 lead and never trailed.
If there was a bright spot in the first half for Warren (1-2) it came from another junior. Adrian Deere posted back-to-back steals and scores and actually cut that North Chicago lead to just 3 points at 10-7. Deere finished with 12 points.
"We had a willingness to share the ball," Webber said. "But we also threw the ball to North Chicago, too. I think we gave them 10 buckets and we have to learn from that."
It's true Warren reached double figures in turnovers in the opening half. And that helped the visitors extend their lead to double figures. The halftime margin was 38-25.
"We are trying to establish a level of play here," Webber said. "We want it to be a high level of play."
Warren's fourth-quarter scoring began when Gillespie calmly made 3 straight free throws. His first 3-pointer with less than five minutes to play finally cut the North Chicago lead to single digits.
"He really helped our comeback," Webber said.
North Chicago's JayQuan McCloud had 7 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Teammate Kurt Hall added 15 points. Warren had 6 points each from Dre Von Hill and Aarias Austin. Shayne White added 5 points for Warren.
Friday's games will be played at Mundelein High School. North Chicago and Lakes will open play at 1 p.m.; Warren will take on Uplift at 2:30; Lake Forest Academy and Barrington will play at 4:30; and Waukegan and Mundelein will conclude play with a 6 p.m. tip.