During the off-season, Warren senior Darius Paul went back to work.
Though his game was good enough already to earn a scholarship to Western Michigan next year, Paul went ahead and honed one of the weapons in his already deep offensive arsenal the 3-point shot.
It's not that Paul couldn't make them before this season, but now it's a real strength.
"(Darius) worked real hard in the summer on that shot," Warren coach Chuck Ramsey said. "It's just one of those plays that you have to pick your spots with."
Friday night, in the Blue Devils' contest with North Chicago at the Waukegan Thanksgiving Tournament, Paul picked the right spot.
With the scored tied at 64, Paul took a bounce pass from teammate Jameris Smith and drained a long 3 from the right side of the arc with 4.6 seconds left in the game to lift Warren (2-0) to a wild 67-64 win over the Warhawks.
"We practice that 'go' play every day in practice and it's just one of those things that worked for us," said Paul, who scored all of his team-high 22 points in the second half. "It's one of those things that I can hit the 3 when it's open, but it's not an all-of-the-time thing. We still have to get into the post."
Paul's big second-half effort helped to overcome a sensational performance by Illinois State-bound senior Aaron Simpson of North Chicago. He scored a game-best 34 points, including a long 3-pointer of his own with 36 seconds left in the game that tied it for the last time at 64.
"I was proud of Aaron today," said North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman, whose team finished fourth in Class 3A last spring. "He is an all-stater and I told him this summer he needs to step up and help lead this team."
Warren battled back in the second quarter after a sluggish start by the Devils and hot shooting from the Warhawks helped North Chicago build its lead to as many as 10 points in the second quarter.
The Class 4A state runner-up Blue Devils answered the surge from North Chicago (1-1) with a 13-2 run in the second quarter that gave Warren its first lead of the night at 27-24.
"We were unfocused and we played that way pretty much the entire game," Ramsey said. "We were fortunate to come away with the win tonight."
Warren built a lead of 60-53 on a basket by Toledo-bound senior Nathan Boothe (13 points) before North Chicago made one final run.
Kurt Hall was the only other play in double figures with 10 points to help pace North Chicago.
Warren Township High School
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