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With no cheerleaders in the building and a sparse 3 p.m. crowd, the Lake Forest Academy bench took matters of inspiration and motivation into its own hands.
Throughout the entirety of Wednesday's Mundelein Thanksgiving tournament game against Warren, literally from tip to final horn, the players who weren't on the floor for the Caxys clapped and chanted "De-fense, de-fense" during every moment of every single Warren offensive possession.
The Caxys who were on the floor seemed to hear the message loud and clear.
"If the bench is motivated, it keeps everyone else on the team motivated," said Lake Forest Academy sophomore forward Daniel Joseph, a starter. "There aren't that many fans out here so we have to make our own kind of motivation. It helped make us play defense a lot harder."
Lake Forest Academy used a stifling box-and-one defense on Warren star guard Eric Gillespie and controlled the boards with its height to get a 53-43 victory over the Blue Devils. The Caxys, who got double-figures out of four players, move to 3-0 on the season while Warren drops to 1-2.
Gillespie, who went off for a career-high 37 points on Monday against Barrington and followed that with 24 points on Tuesday against Uplift, was held to just 9 points, 7 of which came in the fourth quarter.
"We were scared to death of Gillespie after that first night he had," Lake Forest Academy coach Matt Vaughn said. "With the box-and-one, we just tried to limit his shots. We did a great job in the first half. Second-half, we got a little slow on defense and they were able to hit some threes, but we adjusted and we covered those a little bit better at the end."
Warren guard Jovan Jokic scored 13 of his game-high 18 points, including three 3-pointers, in the third quarter. But the Blue Devils still weren't able to close the gap much. They were down by 13 points at halftime (30-17) and were down by 14 points (45-31) at the end of the third quarter.
Lake Forest Academy used its size advantage to keep Warren at arm's length. Joseph scored 6 of his team-high 15 points in the third quarter. Diago Quinn, a 6-foot-9 junior center, finished with 10 points.
"I think their length kind of bothered us," Warren coach Ryan Webber said of Lake Forest Academy. "Right now, we're in position, but we're making it a jumping contest. We're not being physical, we're not making any contact and bigger guys are going over us."
The Blue Devils, who are missing guard Adrian Deere, cut their deficit to 7 points with a quick flurry of baskets to start the fourth quarter. But then Lake Forest Academy regained firm control with a couple of unanswered drives to the basket.
Deere, who averaged 16 points per game for Warren last season, tweaked his knee recently during a drill in practice and hasn't yet received a prognosis from his MRI. Webber is optimistic for a speedy recovery.
"We're hoping he's back in another week or two," Webber said. "He's just got to rehab it a little more and we've got to hope for the best."
Lake Forest Academy also got double-figures out of Dejon Brissett (12 points) and Ryan Clamage (10 points). Jokic was Warren's only double-figure scorer.