After coming tantalizingly close to upsetting the North Suburban Lake Division champion Zee-Bees on Friday night in Zion, Warren's girls basketball team took an upbeat approach to a 60-58 loss that would not have occurred had the Blue Devils been able to handle Zion's full-court pressure and make their free throws.
"I'm happy with everything except for the final score. That's the only thing that I'm disappointed about this evening," said 14th-year Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz. "There were a couple of times tonight when the wheels could have come off for us, but we hung in there and battled them all the way. We've never given up once this year, and we've played with a lot of heart."
This see-saw affair featured a number of runs by both teams. The Blue Devils (12-10, 6-4) jumped out to an 11-3 advantage, but trailed 33-29 at the half following a 12-0 run by the Zee-Bees late in the second quarter.
Warren scored 9 points in a row early in the third quarter to move ahead 38-35, but Zion's pressure enabled it to score the final 6 points of the third stanza for a 51-43 lead. Again, the Blue Devils stormed back to snag a 4-point lead (55-51) with 3:13 to play, but the Zee-Bees (16-6, 11-0) rallied to go up 60-56 with 40 seconds remaining and hung on in the final seconds.
"That was an intense game," said Zion coach Tanya Johnson, who was celebrating a birthday. "When two of our guards (Kaitlyn Stabenow and Carlie Fernandez) went down with injuries, everybody else had to step up. We put two freshmen (Krystal Walker and TT Maggett) out there, and they did a very good job."
Warren's 6-foot senior forward Alyssa Phillips kept her team in the game by matching her uniform number with 24 points, mostly on short jumpers and put-backs inside. Junior guard Kristen O'Brien added 9 points, freshman guard Kylie Nedelka 8 and junior guard Cassie Christie 7.
"My teammates did an amazing job of finding me down low tonight," Phillips said. "I was really proud of our effort. Zion is super quick and their press was hard for us, but it was a learning experience and overall we saw how well we can play."
"Alyssa is arguably one of the top three baseline players in our conference," Stanczykiewicz said. "She's very athletic, plays smart, has active hands and knows how to score inside."
The Zee-Bees, who had already clinched the division title prior to the game, were led by senior forward Syerra Cunningham (22 points) and junior guard Samantha Rodriguez (19 points).