Warren spoils Naperville Central's special night
Warren senior Adnan Sarancic and his teammates desperately needed something positive to take place Saturday night at Naperville Central.
Because the Blue Devils came up big, all of a sudden things are looking up.
Warren had dropped a tight game with Lake Forest on Tuesday and then got roughed up by Zion-Benton on Friday night, but a solid 45-38 defeat of an 18-win Redhawks squad flipped the script in a big way.
Sarancic single-handedly outscored Naperville Central 9-6 in the third quarter as the Blue Devils (9-16) used a 15-6 advantage in the quarter to take a 33-25 lead into the final quarter.
"We did not want to keep losing, especially going into the state playoffs," said Sarancic, a 6-foot-5 senior. "When we heard it was their senior night I think that got us going. We were motivated and we played great team basketball.
"Everybody was into it. Even our bench. Everyone was celebrating and we were passing the ball. ... I think we're playing our best basketball and we can be a dangerous team."
The Redhawks (18-9) clung to a 12-11 lead after one quarter as 6-foot-10 Chris Conway made four of five shots in the opening eight minutes of play. But the Blue Devils defense held Conway without a point the next two quarters. Forward Juan DelaCruz did a great job battling Conway, who finished the game with 12 points.
"Juan, to his credit, he was battling their big guy," Sarancic said. "He was mad that he always gets the (opponents') big guy, but he's a big strong football guy and he battled. They're a great team, clearly. That's why it's great to have these types of nonconference games ... this gets you ready for the playoffs. I believe we can play with any team."
While the Blue Devils are hoping Saturday's effort is a springboard into the postseason, Redhawks coach Pete Kramer expects his team to quickly put its off night in the rearview mirror.
Senior guard Cam Dougherty led the hosts with 18 points and Kyle Baskin sank a trio of key shots in the second half, but only three players scored for the Redhawks in the game.
"Just disappointing. A real disappointing night for us," Kramer said. "A night where a lot of their shots went in. Give them credit. But we were pretty flat most of the night. Not a lot of energy and we didn't execute very well.
"It was Senior Night and I'm disappointed the seniors didn't get a victory. They were the aggressors all night long and we were not. It's just disappointing because of the way we've been playing. This sets us back a bit, but we'll bounce back. We have all year, but this just stings."
Blue Devils coach Jon Jasnoch was thrilled to see his team bounce back after a tough second half the previous night saw Zion-Benton win by 20.
"This is a really nice win absolutely. We have been getting better but it just hasn't shown in the win column. We've been telling the guys this is the time of year to get hot," Jasnoch said. "It's hard to bounce back like that. It's a testament to their character ... it's easy to after a loss like that last night to go 0-2."