After a night of superb passing, which included a behind-the-back dish that resulted in a layup, Eric Gillespie received.
Warren's senior point guard was handed the MVP trophy of the Mundelein Thanksgiving tournament. His 11 points and season-high 9 assists helped the Blue Devils beat the host Mustangs 85-61 in the tourney finale Saturday night.
Its season-best offensive output, which featured five Blue Devils in double figures, allowed Warren (3-2) to win its second game in a row and finish the tourney with a winning record, despite the absence of athletic senior forward Adrian Deere (knee), who hopes to make his season debut Wednesday against Libertyville.
"The kids played hard. We played well," Warren coach Ryan Webber said after his squad made 35 shots, sank 11 of 14 free throws and dished out 25 assists. "I thought we shared the ball well. We tried to be sound and disciplined."
Warren's 1-2-2 half-court ball press helped limit Mundelein senior guard Nate Williams to 15 points. Williams, whose 109 points in the Mustangs' first four games made him a tourney-MVP candidate, was coming off games of 32 and 31 points. He did not have a field goal in the first half.
"We know Nate Williams likes to drive, get into your body and draw fouls," said Gillespie, who opened the tournament last Monday with a 37-point effort against Barrington. "We wanted (Mundelein) to shoot 3s. And that's what we did."
Mundelein (1-4) sank 11 3-pointers, including 5 by senior Derek Parola, who scored a season-high 21 points, but the Mustangs never recovered from a rough start that saw them down 19-12 after one quarter.
"We were pretty aggressive on offense the first four games of the tournament, and then tonight we saw a 1-2-2 and it just kind of stopped us in our tracks," Mundelein coach Corey Knigge said. "It seemed like we were looking for someone to do something, and no one did."
Warren got flashy in the second quarter.
Greg Swain's breakaway dunk off a length-of-the-court inbounds pass stretched the Blue Devils' lead to 36-18, forcing Knigge to call a timeout with 3:13 left. James Betori then came up with a steal and delivered a behind-the-back dish to Swain for a layup. Swain returned the favor, feeding Betori for a layup in transition, and then Gillespie made his wraparound dish to Dominic Cuevas on a 2-on-1 break for an easy bucket, and the lead was 43-24.
Swain, a 6-foot-5 senior transfer from Zion-Benton, came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points and grab 7 rebounds.
"That's a good confidence booster for him," Webber said.
Cuevas added 17 points, including 11 (three 3s) in the first quarter. Jovan Jokic chipped in a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Betori also had 13 points.
The abilities of Swain, Cuevas, Jokic and Betori to finish at the basket meant Gillespie didn't have to produce points at a high rate. Gillespie took only 8 shots, hitting three.
"Coach wanted us to take less 3s because he said Mundelein would give us layups," Gillespie said. "I just wanted to get my teammates involved and take less shots."
Warren was up 43-25 at halftime after outscoring Mundelein 24-13 in a wide-open second quarter. The Mustangs' 61 total points scored represented their low in the tournament.
"We got very tentative," Knigge said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do and were able to control the tempo and control us offensively."