Warren speaks up, wins at Stevenson
There just might be a new look in the North Suburban Lake Division boys basketball race by the time Warren has its full say.
The Blue Devils certainly made a loud statement on the road Friday.
Showing it can beat one of the better teams around with some hard-nosed defense, Warren surprised host Stevenson 55-46 in Lincolnshire.
Maurice Chambers had a game-high 21 points and went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Declan O'Connor dropped in 14 points and pulled down 10 boards, and Branden Ellis had 8 points off the bench, including a couple of 3-pointers.
"Our guys played really hard, and that's a constant for us," said Warren coach Jon Jasnoch, whose team also took 7 charges. "It's a gutsy play, and they were legit charges. That's a tough basketball play and our players are willing to do that. We talked about being patient on offense, moving the ball side-to-side a little bit, and we did that throughout the game.
"At times, we did take quick shots. But down the stretch we were taking care of the ball. It was a great team win."
The Blue Devils (8-11, 3-3) built a 10-point margin on the Patriots (14-6, 4-2), as Chambers made a pair of free throws for a 45-35 lead with 1:21 left.
Stevenson got back in it by scoring 7 unanswered points, a spurt capped by Justin Smith (team-high 13 points) scoring a 3-point play with 54 second lefts to make it 45-42. Smith finished with a team-high 8 rebounds.
But Warren went on to outscore Stevenson the rest of the way 10-4 for the 9-point difference. Chambers went 6-for-6 at the foul line in that stretch.
"We do work a lot on free throws, because we know how important they are in a game," Chambers said. "I know they are big in the long run."
Stevenson started very quickly and had an 11-2 lead after Ryuji Aoki (7 points) dropped in a 3 with 4:04 left in the opening quarter.
"We stopped moving the ball and started to take bad shots," said Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose. "Warren started playing better, and give them credit -- they fought hard and stayed in there. They took it to us."
The Patriots held a 13-12 lead starting the second quarter. But then Stevenson started to get into foul trouble, sending several starters to the bench.
Warren held a 23-21 lead at the break. But 6-foot-7 O'Connor had the first two buckets in an 8-2 Devils run that increased the lead to 31-23 with 5:03 left in the third quarter.
"Stevenson was coming up, hedging their ball screens really hard," O'Connor said. "I was able to slip in and finish them. Playing against Justin Smith, he's hard to play against. He can jump out of the gym and block shots. I thought we both played well."
The Blue Devils led 39-32 by the end of the quarter and extended its margin to double digits in the fourth before the Patriots tried to rally late.
"We did fight back," Ambrose said. "But (Warren) made their free throws. We really weren't ready to go. I hope we learn from this, and it stings a little bit."