Everybody loves instant replay, right? Well, not Warren. Not when Friday night's North Suburban Lake Division game at Libertyville started shaping up like Tuesday night's division contest versus Lake Zurich.
The Blue Devils allowed a 7-point lead to slip away in a 53-50 loss Tuesday night, and on Friday they squandered a 12-point advantage to trail 46-42 after three quarters. But in the fourth stanza, Warren increased the defensive pressure, senior guard Aarias Austin scored 14 of his game-high 24 points and the Blue Devils pulled away for a 66-59 victory over the Wildcats to snap a 3-game losing streak.
"It was kind of like a flashback to the Lake Zurich game Tuesday when I felt like I didn't do enough to help my team win," said Austin, who on Friday almost single-handedly turned the game around by scoring 10 points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to put the Blue Devils (9-8, 3-4) up by 8 points at 54-46.
"Coach (Ryan Webber) asked who was going to step up and take control, and being a senior, I felt it was my responsibility. We came out of the half completely flat and they swarmed us, but as coach says, it's not about how you get knocked down, it's how you get up."
Libertyville (2-13, 0-6) trailed 34-22 late in the second quarter, but scored the last 4 points of the first half and the first 8 points of the third quarter to tie it at 34. Warren junior forward Adrian Deere (14 points) nailed a 3-pointer to end the Wildcats' run at 12 points, but the home team ended the third quarter with a 9-2 run to grab a 4-point advantage heading into the final 8 minutes.
Senior guard Matthew Varner led the Cats with 17 points, senior forward Jack Deichl tossed in 14 and sophomore forward Joe Borcia added 10.
"Varner was a ton for them tonight," Webber said. "He was awesome, especially along the baseline where we have had trouble defending. We've got to get in better habits because we keep giving up baseline drives."
Webber said his rugged forward, Mitch Cygan, was a big key to the win.
"Mitch did everything tonight, including a lot of things you don't see in the box score," Webber said. "He scored (10 points), screened, rebounded and a lot more for us."
"Coach challenged me a couple of weeks ago to get back to what I'd been doing before and play a complete game," Cygan said. "We had some mental lapses on defense tonight when we got comfortable with our lead, jogging to the ball instead of sprinting. But fortunately we didn't let the same thing happen as what happened Tuesday night against Lake Zurich."
Varner's 9 fourth-quarter points helped the Wildcats keep it close down the stretch, but a timely 3-pointer by Warren junior guard James Betori and Austin's stellar play kept the Blue Devils ahead.
"We had the momentum, but then Aarias took off and Betori hit that 3 that hurt us," said Libertyville coach Scott Bogumil. "I thought we did a good job of attacking their zone defense sometimes, but there were too many times in that fourth quarter when our defense just didn't step up."