Shooting a pretty 3-ball isn't all Eric Gillespie and Dominic Cuevas can do.
After draining three 3-pointers each Friday night in the Mundelein Thanksgiving tournament, the two Warren guards proved that they can also do the dirty work.
Clinging to a 1-point lead, Warren had to defend one last offensive possession by Lakes.
The Eagles came out of a timeout with 11 seconds to operate.
But Gillespie and Cuevas certainly didn't make it easy.
"Eric made a big deflection and Dominic made a huge dive for a loose ball," said Warren coach Ryan Webber, recounting the final play.
As the ball rolled around and got shoved further from the basket, time ran out and Warren escaped with a 47-46 win. Lakes never even got a shot up.
"Coach really got into us about our defense before this game," said Cuevas, who finished with a team-high 17 points, just ahead of Gillespie's 16 points. "I think we really took that to heart. We really thought a lot about our defense and we were trying to play a lot harder."
The scrappy, defensive-minded Blue Devils broke a two-game losing streak with their last-second stand. They are now 2-2 on the season.
Lakes drops to 0-4.
"We went out there with 'If they go man (defense), it's this (play), and if they go zone, it's that (play),' and I think we had guys who weren't sure what they were in and, being a young team, they weren't able to get into the set we needed," Lakes coach Chris Snyder said. "Of course, we would have liked to at least gotten a shot up at the rim to have a chance.
"Our guys are young, and they're really down right now about not getting a shot. But I just told them that it wasn't that one play that lost the game. We need to think about all the other things that happened over the course of four quarters."
The second quarter is when the Eagles, who start four inexperienced juniors, got into the most trouble.
They fell behind by 11 points thanks to their own cold shooting and some hot shooting by Cuevas and Gillespie. Cuevas had 12 points, including two 3-pointers in the quarter while Gillespie added 6 points, including a shot from downtown.
But Lakes didn't roll over.
The Eagles came out of halftime refocused and out-scored Warren 16-7 in the third quarter to cut their deficit to just 2 points (36-34) heading into the fourth. With 6:04 remaining, junior guard Tramone Hudson tied the game at 38 with a drive to the basket. And Lakes eventually took its first lead (42-40) since the opening minutes of the game just a few moments later.
But Warren tightened up its defense and James Betori (8 points) hit some big shots (a 3-pointer and a layup) to put Warren back on top (45-42) for good.
"That last play we were scrambling, but we're a young team and we're developing," said Hudson, who scored a game-high 18 points, including a 3-pointer. "And we've had an important piece to our puzzle missing."
Senior guard TJ Edwards is missing no more.
Edwards, who has significant varsity experience, got to play for the first time this season. He had missed the Eagles' previous three games to continue his recovery from a knee injury that he suffered during the football season. Edwards, who will be playing football next year at Western Michigan, was Lakes' starting quarterback. He now wears a knee sleeve on the basketball court.