Mullins, Oak Park handle Warren at Pontiac

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/28/2021 8:17 PM

PONTIAC -- Warren certainly hopes to avoid Justin Mullins for the remainder of the boys basketball season.

An Oak Park-River Forest senior committed to the University of Denver, Mullins single-handedly derailed the Blue Devils with his all-around brilliance in first-round action of the iconic Pontiac Holiday Tournament Tuesday afternoon.

 

Mullins had game-highs production in three critical phases of the game -- points, rebounds, and assists -- with 31, 8 and 5, respectively, to lead the Huskies to an 81-55 victory.

"It was a challenge," Warren senior Drew Dolan said of containing the athletic 6-foot-5 wing guard and forward.

Adam Panek had the opening field goal of the game on an offensive rebound, but it proved to be the only Warren advantage of the game.

The Huskies (5-3) scored the next 9 points, with Mullins anchoring the unanswered run with seven straight, to seize command.

The Blue Devils would make a commendable comeback in the middle two quarters, but the OPRF onslaught proved too much to overcome.

Twelve missed free throws in the first half alone did not help matters for the Devils, who fell to 6-3.

"If we just shoot our normal free-throw percentage, we're right there," Warren coach Jon Jasnoch said of the Devils' 35-23 halftime deficit.

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"I don't know what it was; we were all missing free throws," said Dolan, the Blue Devils' offensive leader with 19 points.

Time and again, turnovers -- which OPRF frequently turned into points in transition -- were a common nemesis for Warren.

OPRF forced 19 Warren miscues; the primary result was the Huskies feasting on easy scores.

The Huskies shot 57 percent from the floor (34-for-60) largely on the basis of their defensive intensity and fast-break run outs.

""We weren't ready to transition into defense as quickly as they were getting into their offense," Jasnoch said. "That set the tone of the game. We weren't ready for the speed of the game."

Mullins' do-it-all play at both ends only exacerbated the Devils' difficulties in neutralizing the Huskies' team-wide athleticism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I like to rebound, I like to play defense," Mullins said. "I was able to get a lot of my points off transition."

Warren would have one final surge.

Amarias Stephens' 3-pointer reduced the Huskies' lead to 44-36 midway through the third quarter.

Dolan never ceased as well in his desire to personally reverse the trends of the game.

"Some of those 3s were just me trying to get the team going," said Dolan, 4-for-7 beyond the arc. "We just have to make sure we run our plays right."

OPRF, however, would respond with an 11-3 run; Warren never came closer than 13 points the remainder of the game.

Cooper Stacey and Panek complemented Dolan with 10 and 9 points, respectively.

The Devils will face Plainfield North in consolation action on Wednesday morning.

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