Having proved repeatedly during the second half that he can shoot from long range, Niles North's Damaria Franklin showed off his versatility at the worst possible time for Warren.
He scored from short range.
At the buzzer.
Franklin's putback lifted Niles North to a 62-60 win Tuesday night in a Class 4A regional semifinal at Libertyville that was thrilling for four quarters.
Franklin scored 28 of his career- and game-high 33 points in the second half, as No. 7 Niles North (21-9) earned a berth in Friday's 7 p.m. final against No. 2 Notre Dame, which survived No. 18 Glenbrook North 62-56 in the night's first semifinal.
Franklin, a junior guard, drained all but one of his seven 3-pointers in the second half, with four coming in the fourth quarter.
"You talk about getting out and covering him, but some of them were deep 3s," said Warren coach Jon Jasnoch, whose team led 29-27 at halftime. "(Niles North) had a nice set to really stretch the defense. They set that little ball screen up top, and if we helped on the ball screen, then it put us in a bind, because who's going to go out and get on (Franklin)? Either guy that had to get there had a long closeout."
Franklin shot 12 of 22 from the floor and was particularly hot after halftime, making 10 of 14 shots.
"I thought they were going to come out and try a box and one after I hit a couple of 3s to start the second half," said Franklin, who also had 7 rebounds. "But they stayed in the zone."
The loss seemed fitting for 10th-seeded Warren (13-15), which suffered numerous tough losses during the regular season. The Blue Devils' 15 defeats included 10 by six or fewer points.
"We played a heck of a game," said Warren senior guard Juwan Perry, who had 14 points and 7 rebounds. "It just hurts to lose a game like that -- a putback at the last second. We fought hard this whole year."
Branden Ellis scored a team-high 17 points for Warren and grabbed 4 offensive rebounds (5 boards total). Jayson Dorsey also scored 14 points in his final game, while fellow Blue Devils senior Declan O'Connor posted 8 points and 10 rebounds.
O'Connor's slick up-and-under pulled Warren even at 60-60 with 39 seconds left. On the game-winning bucket, Dravon Clayborn sped into the lane and missed a running layup, but Franklin snagged the rebound in midair and dropped the ball in as time expired.
"We got a little broken down," Jasnoch said. "On that drive, everybody rotated to help, and nobody rotated to box (Franklin) out. One of the best players on the floor and we don't see him. How many times do you see games end like that? It's that putback that gets you."
Niles North also got 20 points from Jamal Stephenson, who sank all five of his 3-pointers in the first half. Franklin and Stephenson scored all but nine of the Vikings' points.
"You go against a ball press and you put up 62 points, that's not bad," Niles North coach Glenn Olson said. "When you go against this (defense), we didn't want to overthink it. We wanted to play. We wanted to spread out, use space and use our penetration."
Warren was once 3-7, but won 10 of its last 18 games -- and that included four losses in its last five contests.
"We had a good run," Perry said. "We had a couple of spurts. We had a couple of games that we should have won. I love these guys. They fought in practice and in games, and it was a good year."