Juwan Perry's thunderous, one-handed dunk threatened to ruin the maintenance work done on the rim that needed adjusting just before tipoff.
The breakaway slam by the 6-foot Perry also seemed damaging to Libertyville, as it got Warren within a point and was part of a 10-0 run that had the visiting Blue Devils up by 4 points in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
During the first week of the basketball season, that swing in momentum might have been too much for Libertyville to overcome. But the Wildcats are improving, and their 53-47 win over Warren in the two teams' North Suburban Conference opener Tuesday night was further proof of that.
The victory for Libertyville (3-5) was its third in four games after starting the season with four straight losses at St. Viator.
"That stuff is going to happen," Wildcats coach Brent Mork said of Warren's fourth-quarter run. "It's a game of runs, right? There are momentum changes. I was really happy and proud of the guys how they were able to fight back and overcome it. That hasn't been the case this year. We've played some really good teams and have been in the games. Teams will make a run at us, and then we take a step back."
Warren's 6-8 Declan O'Connor (team-high 12 points, 6 rebounds) hit a long jumper to put the Blue Devils up 45-41 with 3:37 left, capping the 10-0 outburst. But Harrison Bach answered with a 3-pointer, and Chase Eyre's left-corner 3 with 2:02 to go gave Libertyville the lead back for good at 47-45.
"Coach pulled us together and got us back into focus," Eyre said. "We came together as a team and instead of playing selfish basketball we played unselfish, and we pulled it out at the end."
Libertyville junior Drew Peterson scored 17 of his game-high 23 points (two 3-pointers) in the second half and also grabbed 11 rebounds to notch his second double-double in a row. His lean-in jumper capped an 8-0 run for the Wildcats. He and Bach (10 points) made 2 free throws apiece in the final minute, while Brandon Rule (5 points) had 2 steals.
Eyre provided a huge lift coming off the bench, scoring a season-high 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. He also had a steal.
"He's a really long, athletic junior and he's done a nice job for us," Mork said. "He adds a whole other dimension with length and athleticism defensively. And he can hit some shots."
Despite a slow start offensively to his season, Eyre was confident when he fired his 3 -- his only shot of the fourth -- with the Wildcats down one late.
"You can't even think about it," Eyre said. "You just got to imagine a swish before you shoot it and hope that it goes in."
Barak Diehl was the spark off the bench for Warren (3-3), which played without injured guard Branden Ellis (left hand). Diehl delivered 11 points, including a 3-pointer. Jayson Dorsey, whose behind-the-head pass after he stole the ball at center court sent Perry off on his breakaway dunk, had 8 points (two 3-pointers). Perry finished with 7 points, and Ryan Short hustled for 8 rebounds.
Libertyville, which enjoyed a 38-33 lead after three, has consecutive wins for the first time this season.
"I was really, really proud of how tough our guys were tonight," Mork said. "We took a step in the right direction."