Under second-year coach Ryan Webber, Warren has become synonymous with zone defense.
How rarely does Warren fall into a man-to-man defense?
"I'd say we go into a man maybe one possession a game," Warren senior guard Eric Gillespie said. "And we probably only do that every other game."
But with a game on the line Saturday night at Lake Zurich, the Blue Devils decided to dust off their seldom-used man-to-man defense to cause confusion.
Warren figured that a zone would be the last kind of defense the host Bears would expect.
As it turned out, there was confusion. But not the kind that Warren intended.
The only ones who were confused during Lake Zurich's final possession were the Blue Devils, and it cost them a victory.
Lake Zurich, on Throw Back Night in its old gym, pulled out a North Suburban Conference Lake Division squeaker in jaw-dropping fashion, 46-45.
With 17 seconds left and Lake Zurich down by a point, guard Mike Travlos brought the ball up the length of the floor. To his surprise, as weaved around in the frontcourt, the entire right side of the lane suddenly parted like the Red Sea and Travlos drove to the basket unobstructed and unguarded.
"It was wide open. There was some kind of switch (by the defense), and I noticed that the lane opened right up and I took it," Travlos said. "I was real surprise about that."
The equally shocked Blue Devils, now down by a point, called a timeout and had 8 seconds left to respond with a basket of their own. Gillespie, whose pressure-packed free throws on the possession before Travlos' heroics put Warren up 45-44, drove the length of the floor, penetrated and kicked out to a wide open James Betori (10 points, including two 3-pointers, on the night). But Betori just missed on a 3-pointer from the baseline, and time expired as Travlos tracked down the rebound.
"That (final Lake Zurich) possession sums up why we don't play man," Webber said. "We just needed to get a stop and instead (Travlos) dribbled the length of the floor and shot an uncontested layup like no one else was in the gym. There's not really anything else you can say about that, but you have to question why we did what we did."
For Lake Zurich, which improves to 15-11 overall and 4-6 in Lake Division play, there was never a question as to who would have the ball in his hands on that final possession.
Travlos had been the Bears' most aggressive attacker all night. He finished with 16 points, tied with Gillespie for game-high scoring honors.
"The first half, Mike was the only one who was aggressive for us," said Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher, whose team is one win away from posting the most wins in a season over his four-year career. "He was the only one who was in there attacking. He's just confident doing that."
Now, the Bears, who also got 9 points from Brad Kruse and 7 points from Will McClaughry, have more confidence in their ability to win close games.
"We had a lead there and then we missed some free throws and then gave it back, and I think it's a testament to our resolve that we came back and pulled this out in a tight game," Pitcher said. "The guys just kept believing and during timeouts, we just said here's what we're going to do to come through."
For the Blue Devils, who drop to 14-12 overall and 4-7 in the Lake, coming through in the future might have to be done without senior guard Adrian Deere, one of the team's leading scorers (15 ppg).
Deere was going up for a wide-open, breakaway layup with 2:15 left in the first quarter when it appeared that his knee buckled under him. He fell to the floor and then had to be helped off to the locker room. He did not return to the game, but he did sit on the bench with a huge icepack wrapped to his knee.
"It was downhill from there and it changed our whole night," Webber said of losing Deere, who missed a handful of games earlier in the season with a knee injury. "You're without your best athlete. That's tough.
"We battled, but (Lake Zurich) made one more play than we did."