Maine West coach Erik McNeill wanted to shake things up.
As losers of three straight, McNeill decided to bring the emerging junior Allante Bates in off the bench. That meant sophomore Joel Ferraren would get his second career start but with a much bigger offensive role.
After Thursday morning, Ferraren might've earned himself a starting spot for good.
Ferraren led the way for the Warriors with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks to help fend off a pesky Libertyville squad and earn a 56-54 overtime win on the second day of the Wheeling Wildcat Hardwood Classic Tournament.
"The opportunity was great," Ferraren said. "(McNeill) said 'when one man goes down, another man has to fill in.' I filled in today."
Ferraren's 18 points marked not only a career high but also the first time the sophomore scored in double figures.
"(Ferraren) was given the opportunity and he made the most out of it," McNeil said. "As a coach, that's all you can ask for. I'm very proud of him."
McNeill's decision to mix up the rotations paid off early. The Warriors carried a 1-point halftime lead after holding Libertyville leading scorer Jack Lipp (27 points, 10-17 shooting from the field) to 6 first-half points.
But just as he did in a 25-point performance against St. Viator on Wednesday, Lipp caught fire in the second half. Lipp's 21 second-half points along with junior Matt Reed's (9 points, 3-4 3pt) three late 3-pointers brought the Wildcats back from an 11-point deficit to force overtime.
"We were just trying to stop (Lipp) any way we can because he would just get to the basket and to the line," Ferraren said. "He was doing pretty much everything. He was phenomenal but we were able to stop him at the end."
Despite an overtime 3, Lipp and the Wildcats couldn't muster up enough buckets down the stretch.
"It was a pretty rough loss because we've been really scrambling trying to get a win and it's getting harder, but we were right there to get one today," said Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil.
Part of the reason the Warriors were able to hang on was because of the decision-making of junior point guard Anthony Dones (5 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds). Though Ferraren had a career day starting in his place, Bates (7-for-12 from the field) still finished with 16 points.
"It's been a tough stretch for us," McNeill said. "I'm pleased that our guys stuck with it. They didn't get down going into overtime. Hopefully this is a springboard."