Dominic Cuevas' minutes on the basketball court continue to increase as the Warren senior guard shows his left knee is healthy again.
Tendinitis caused him to miss 13 straight games during the middle of the season.
"It feels good, thank you," Cuevas said.
What felt great Tuesday night for Cuevas was Warren's 59-48 win over Deerfield in the teams' Class 4A regional semifinal at McHenry's west campus.
Cuevas came off the bench to score 9 points and grab 6 rebounds in his most productive performance since mid-December.
"He brings a lot of good elements to us," Warren coach Ryan Webber said of Cuevas, who was starting early in the season.
Eric Gillespie scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in the opening quarter to help get Warren (17-14) off to a great start. The 5-foot-9 point guard hit his first 5 shots, including four 3-pointers.
"I came out with the mind set that I didn't want to go home, so basically I did what I could to get us a good start," Gillespie said. "My shots were falling so I kept shooting."
Adrian Deere and Greg Swane added 10 points apiece for the ninth-seeded Blue Devils, who will face top-seeded Stevenson (27-1) at 7 p.m. Friday in the regional final.
Stevenson swept the regular-season series against Warren, but the Patriots prevailed by only a 52-51 final when the teams played on Dec. 20 in Gurnee.
"Anything could happen," Cuevas said. "I feel like if we stop Jalen Brunson from scoring, put in a lot of effort and focus on our defense, we can keep it close."
"We just want a shot," Webber said. "We want to make it a game. We know they have a lot of weapons. We just want a chance."
No. 8 Deerfield (17-9) led only one time against Warren. That's when Eric Porter hit a 3-pointer with 1:11 left in the third quarter to cap a 12-5 run and put the Warriors up 35-34.
But Deere's three-point play in the closing seconds gave Warren a 37-35 advantage going into the final quarter.
The Blue Devils then started the fourth with Gillespie feeding Swane for a layup, Deere finding Gillespie for his fifth 3-pointer and Cuevas sinking 2 free throws.
"Probably in more than half our games, the third quarter we come out sluggish, not playing hard," Gillespie said. "Coach called a timeout, got on us a little bit, and I think that made us play harder."
Warren kept Deerfield at bay by sinking 15 of 16 free throws in the fourth (16 of 17 overall).
Deerfield received 16 points from 6-8 junior Jack Lieb and 15 from 6-4 senior Michael Alfieri.