Warren holds off Prospect for upset

 
 
Updated 2/27/2019 10:52 PM
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  • Warren's Juan DelaCruz hugs teammates after they beat Prospect during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Juan DelaCruz hugs teammates after they beat Prospect during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Juan DelaCruz, left, and Warren's Adnan Sarancic celebrate after beating Prospect during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Juan DelaCruz, left, and Warren's Adnan Sarancic celebrate after beating Prospect during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Benjamin Zellmer, left and Warren's Juan DelaCruz battle for a rebound during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Benjamin Zellmer, left and Warren's Juan DelaCruz battle for a rebound during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Benjamin Miller reacts to a foul during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Benjamin Miller reacts to a foul during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Tavion McCarthy (3) dishes off around Prospect's Benjamin Miller during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Tavion McCarthy (3) dishes off around Prospect's Benjamin Miller during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • The Warren bench cheers during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      The Warren bench cheers during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Juan DelaCruz, left, drives past Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Juan DelaCruz, left, drives past Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Matthew Woloch (2) drives on Warren's Cole Thompson and Warren's Jordan Johnson during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Matthew Woloch (2) drives on Warren's Cole Thompson and Warren's Jordan Johnson during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler is trapped by Warren's Adnan Sarancic, left, and Warren's Juan DelaCruz during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler is trapped by Warren's Adnan Sarancic, left, and Warren's Juan DelaCruz during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Adnan Sarancic left drives on Prospect's Jack Schneider during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Adnan Sarancic left drives on Prospect's Jack Schneider during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Adnan Sarancic shoots during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Adnan Sarancic shoots during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Benjamin Miller, left, and Warren's Jordan Johnson battle for a loose ball during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Benjamin Miller, left, and Warren's Jordan Johnson battle for a loose ball during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Benjamin Zellmer (25) drives on Warren's Jordan Johnson, left, and Warren's Adnan Sarancic during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Benjamin Zellmer (25) drives on Warren's Jordan Johnson, left, and Warren's Adnan Sarancic during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler, left looks to shoot on Warren's Cole Thompson and Warren's Adnan Sarancic during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler, left looks to shoot on Warren's Cole Thompson and Warren's Adnan Sarancic during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Benjamin Miller drives in for a layup during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Benjamin Miller drives in for a layup during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Prospect's Benjamin Miller has the ball stripped by Warren's Jordan Johnson during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Prospect's Benjamin Miller has the ball stripped by Warren's Jordan Johnson during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Casey Cobe, left, drives on Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School.

      Warren's Casey Cobe, left, drives on Prospect's Jonathan Kreidler during boys basketball regional semifinals Wednesday night at Grayslake North High School. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Juan DelaCruz and his Warren basketball teammates had an answer this time when another "Not again" moment arose during their Class 4A regional semifinal against Prospect on Wednesday night.

They said not this time. It's the state tournament, after all.

Warren coach Jon Jasnoch said his team has given up a fourth-quarter lead in at least five games this season. Against Mid-Suburban League East champ Prospect, the Blue Devils never did relinquish their advantage, which was 12 points early in the fourth. But they needed clutch free throws by DelaCruz and Adnan Sarancic to pull off their upset win.

DelaCruz scored a season-high 20 points, Sarancic added 18, and 11th-seeded Warren edged No. 6 Prospect 56-53 at Grayslake North.

"The difference between this game and the other games was that if we lose this one, we go home," DelaCruz said. "I told my teammates, 'You got to stay calm. We have the lead. We don't need to be chucking up shots or making bad passes. We just need to move the ball around and get uncontested layups.' That's what our coach told us too."

Warren (16-15), which beat Lakes in Monday's play-in game, advances to Friday's 7 p.m. final against No. 3 Waukegan (26-5). Waukegan defeated Warren 62-52 and 65-60 in North Suburban Conference play.

"We've been working to get better all season and to beat teams like Waukegan," Jasnoch said. "Hopefully we're ready for it."

Warren led Prospect (14-16) after every quarter, including 28-22 at halftime, and took a 45-35 advantage into the fourth. The Knights staged a furious rally to erase their deficit, but never got the lead. They forced Warren to hit key free throws down the stretch, and DelaCruz and Sarancic delivered.

Sarancic hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 1:47 left to snap a 51-51 tie. DelaCruz then swished both ends of a 1-and-1 with 35 seconds to go to pad the Blue Devils' lead to 55-51. After Prospect's Sam Murray scored on a layup to make it a two-point game again, DelaCruz split 2 free throws with 13.8 seconds on the clock, making the first of a 1-and-1.

"I was just staying calm," DelaCruz said. "In practice it's a lot harder because I have teammates yelling at me or making me laugh. I try to focus on using my legs and following through on the ball."

DelaCruz, a 6-foot-3 junior who's taking a football visit to Iowa this weekend, also grabbed 7 rebounds (all on the offensive glass). He was a force inside, shooting 8 of 14 from the floor.

"Juan had a big game, early inside scores and late making the free throws," Jasnoch said.

Sarancic's reverse layup one minute into the fourth quarter extended Warren's lead to 47-35, its biggest of the game. But T.J. Johannesen's second 3-pointer of the game started a 9-0 run for Prospect, and suddenly the higher seed looked like it might avoid the upset after all. After DelaCruz's putback made it 51-48, Prospect pulled even on Jon Kreidler's 3 with 2:05 left.

"It's a matter of trusting and taking care of the ball," Jasnoch said. "Sometimes we try to do too much. A player tries to do too much and gets back-tapped or gets himself in a trap situation. And Prospect converted on those (turnovers)."

Murray led Prospect with 14 points, Johannesen had 10, and Kreidler finished with nine.

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