Wake Forest-bound Kaylen Dickson had a slow start on Friday night in Lincolnshire.
The Warren senior was scoreless until the final seconds of the second quarter -- and then she scored 4 points in about a second and half.
On a Dickson drive, the Warren lead was 15 points over Stevenson with three minutes to play in the third quarter. Stevenson had scrapped its plan of driving against the Warren zone. The Patriots did not have one layup or short jumper in the second half.
So all of Stevenson's offense was coming on 3s, four of which came from Stevenson senior Olivia Paldrmic, and the Warren lead was down to a single basket at 27-25.
At that point, Dickson (17 points) calmly made four straight free throws and Warren (5-2) survived the onslaught and registered a 33-28 win in North Suburban Conference play.
Several things stood out in this contest. Stevenson (3-3) had 8 points in the entire first half yet the Pats trailed only 15-7.
Where was the offense?
"We've been working on defense the majority of the time,'' said Warren's Eastern Illinois-bound Jordyn Hughes (8 points). "We take pride in our defense."
Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz watched as his big lead disappeared in the fourth quarter.
"We had smart ball movement and using our screens," said Stanczykiewicz, "and then we started playing as individuals. Our zone helps to keep our kids on the floor."
Stevenson sophomore Avery King (6 points) had the first 3 of the second half. Still, it was no match for the Dickson run.
"I'm excited about our Warren team,'' Dickson said. "We had to play a slower game tonight. I think we have a chance at winning the conference this year."
Dickson's last hoop of the third quarter gave the Devils a 26-11 lead.
Paldrmic (12 points) and Kiana Cencula each drilled 3-pointers as the third quarter closed to help the Pats cut the lead to single digits at 26-17.
"I have no idea where our offense was in the first half,'' said Stevenson senior Julia Osuch (7 rebounds). "We have practiced against zone. But we also pride ourselves on our defense."
Warren still looked in charge as the fourth quarter opened. However, after one foul shot from Dickson, the Warren offense went scoreless for four minutes. The second Paldrmic 3 cut the Warren lead to 5. The third one made it 27-25 Warren.
"We just had all of the momentum,'' Osuch added.
Hughes' rebound and bucket was big because it ended the scoring drought at 1:56 and restored the Warren lead to 29-25.
Hughes, meanwhile, seems content with her choice of Eastern Illinois.
"I feel at home at Eastern Illinois,'' Hughes said. "They treat me as family."
Paldrmic had one more 3 in her bag, and it brought the Pats within 31-28 with 15 seconds to play -- before Dickson salted the game away at the free throw line.
She, too, is happy with her college choice.
"Yes, it's much warmer (North Carolina),'' she said. "I really love it."