Perry, Warren tag Stevenson with an NSC loss
It's OK, Warren fans -- you can breathe easy now.
After several close losses, the tide turned on Wednesday night in Gurnee as the Blue Devils' boys basketball team gained a much-needed victory.
And more importantly, perhaps, a tremendous confidence boost.
"I'm feeling a little better now. We played some really good defense. And we trusted the inside-out game," said Warren coach Jon Jasnoch shortly after his guys put the finishing touches on a 58-51 upset victory over North Suburban Conference leader Stevenson. "The energy and motivation were there tonight. We played like we know how we can play."
That inside-out game indeed played a huge factor, as Warren only had to rely on two 3s on the night.
Warren guard Juwan Perry was doing his thing right out of the gates in the first quarter. The senior guard popped in 11 of his career and team-high 26 points as Warren improved to 8-10 overall and 2-5 in the league.
"After some tough losses, we took this game more personal," said Perry, who also grabbed 11 boards. "We didn't give up. We tried to have an answer for every run they had."
Running mate and guard Jayson Dorsey did a heck of a job bringing the ball up court and beating Stevenson's pressure.
Dorsey complemented Perry with 14 points.
"I'm speechless right now," said Dorsey. "This was a great win for us. We stayed more composed and stuck together."
Warren opened up a 17-13 lead after the first eight minutes.
But when you have a guy like 6-foot-7 senior forward Justin Smith on your team, chances are you're never going to be out of any game.
Smith, heading to Indiana next fall, gave Stevenson a brief 9-7 lead in the first after a thunderous ally-oop dunk from the left baseline that got everyone's attention.
And luckily there are breakaway rims at Warren, as Smith's second dunk finished a fastbreak late in the second quarter to help Stevenson stay close.
Smith did plenty of damage on his wayto finishing with a game-high 28 points. He also controlled the boards with 15 on the evening.
But this night belonged to Warren.
After a 24-24 tie at halftime, the Devils' defense limited Stevenson to 3-of-15 shooting in the third. Warren guard Ian Schilling canned an NBA-length trey at the buzzer, and all of a sudden it was 43-32 heading to the fourth.
But again, you know Smith and Stevenson are not going away that easily.
After scoring 10 of his points in the first quarter, Smith went nuts in the fourth, scoring another 12.
A Dorsey free throw to open the fourth gave Warren its biggest lead at 44-32.
But Danny Rosen's basket off of a turnover helped ignite a 16-6 run over the next 5:33 to cut it to 50-48 with 1:32 left in regulation.
Understandably, there was some nervousness on behalf of the Warren crowd. But Stevenson got no closer.
Perry and Dorsey converted combined for 4-for-4 free throws and a bucket from Brandon Ellis (8 points) down the stretch erased any doubt.
"Give Warren a lot of credit," said Pats coach Pat Ambrose. "We fought and clawed back into it, but need to focus on both ends of the floor. Tonight we didn't shoot well and we didn't play very good defense."
Stevenson dropped to 6-1 after suffering its first conference loss. The Pats slipped to 14-3 overall and next have a date with Mundelein on Friday.