Warren stuns Libertyville, snaps Wildcats' 13-game streak
In looking forward towards this winter's boys basketball action in Lake County, one of the top stories was the move up north by former Carmel coach Zack Ryan from Mundelein to Gurnee,
Ryan sought to restore the Warren Township program to prominence from where it last won a North Suburban Conference crown back in 2018 and reached the Class 4A Elite Eight back in 2012 after having advanced to the title game one year earlier.
Ryan, who went 127-111 during his eight seasons in which he guided the Corsairs to three Class 3A regional titles, beamed when he spoke proudly of his first Blue Devils unit after it held off a late rally from visiting Libertyville to earn a 50-45 win on their Almond Road home court Friday night.
It marked not only the Wildcats' first loss in North Suburban play (6-1), but their first loss in nearly six weeks when it lost a nonconference home game to Palatine on Dec. 3 after which it began a 13-game win streak beating Warren at home three days later (61-45).
"I'm really proud of these guys. We've really pushed them and been on them about trying to explain how do you beat a team like this (in Libertyville) that's ranked and hasn't lost since December," Ryan said. "We just been talking the last few weeks of how we haven't really had a signature win yet this year. We beat some decent teams, but no one like the caliber of Libertyville and we said that we have to put together a full game and it usually comes in the second half where we struggled playing in some games where we've had some leads."
Warren (12-10, 4-3) took a 4-2 lead on an Adam Panel hoop inside off an Alex Daniels feed just 95 seconds into the contest and never relinquished that lead. It reached its zenith twice at 14 in quarter number two when a Patrick Sengco three gave them a 29-15 advantage with 1:38 remaining until halftime when it led 29-20.
After a successful drive by Daniels (game-high 14 points) put the Blue Devils up 40-31 with 7:15 left, it would hold on for dear life as Libertyville (16-4 overall) outscored the home team 13-6 to pull within 46-44 on a Jack Huber triple with 1:09 left.
It next had a pair of opportunities to tie the game up in the final 36 ticks of regulation time when Aidyn Boone missed the back end of a two-shot free throw attempt that Warren forward Immanuel Brown snared for the rebound.
Its second and final chance came after Blue Devil senior guard Adrian Jones connected twice successfully from the charity stripe when Huber (team-high 11 points) missed a potential game-tying attempt from beyond the arc with 13 seconds left.
Free throws converted by Josh Stewart and Jones sealed the deal in the closing seconds.
Sengco joined Daniels in double-figures for Warren with 11 including a 3-for-4 performance beyond the arc while Boone finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds for Libertyville.