Panek's clutch free throws lift Warren over Lake Zurich
There was just a little panic when Warren's Adam Panek took an early seat Friday night in Lake Zurich. The senior forward was forced to the bench with two fouls in the first 1:40 of the game.
"It was the most nerve-racking thing." Panek said. "I am an aggressive player and I knew one more foul and I was back on the bench. I get in and my teammates help me. Then I got fouled and made the free throws."
Panek showed that the slow start would not deter him. He knocked down two free throws with 19.7 seconds left to play to help lift the Blue Devils past Lake Zurich 55-54.
"Adam is a tough as they come," Warren coach Zack Ryan said. "He is a great leader. He picked up those two quick ones, but came back to get the shots when we needed them."
After Panek scored, Warren (14-11, 5-4) still needed to come up with a defensive stop. The Blue Devils got just that when Alec Daniels was able to come up with a fine defensive play on the final shot to preserve the victory.
"Adam got in foul trouble early, so I had to guard the inside," Daniels said. "I did the best I could and kept them away from the basket."
It was a wild finish for both teams as they played a second half that featured seven ties and six lead changes.
Lake Zurich (12-9, 4-5) posted the biggest leads in the half when the Bears led by four points in the third quarter and three points in the fourth. But each time Warren was able to fight back.
"We knew this was going to be a tough one," Ryan said. "I was just proud of our guys the way that they battled. We were tested many times."
With the game tied at 50-50, it was Warren's turn to get a three-point lead. Panek got a putback and then added a free throw to put the Blue Devils up 53-50 with 3:13 left.
Lake Zurich battled back. The Bears tied the game on three-pointer by Noah Kyrychenko. They then took the lead on a free throw by Nick Popovic with 58.5 seconds left to put Lake Zurich up 54-53.
Warren held the ball until Panek's free throws put them up for good.
The first half had that same back and forth feeling.
Warren had a nice reversal of fortunes early in the game that helped spark the Blue Devils.
After Panik picked up his second foul, his replacement Manny Brown stepped in quite nicely, knocking down a three and a basket as the Blue Devils grabbed an early lead.
Lake Zurich's Anton Strelnikov did some damage inside for the Bears. His eight first quarter points kept Lake Zurich close, as the Bears trailed 17-15 after the first quarter.
Lake Zurich pulled ahead midway through the second quarter on a three-point play by Nick Popovic to make it 22-21.
Warren answered with a 7-0 run on baskets by Alex Daniels and Panek as well as a three-pointer by Amaris Stephens as the Blue Devils surged to a 28-22 lead.
Lake Zurich closed the half on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 28-27.
The Bears were led by Popovic, who finished with 18 points. Strelnikov had 12 points, Kyrychenko added eight points while Brendan Powers had five points and 10 rebounds.
"Credit to them," Lake Zurich coach Terry Coughlin said. "They hit two free throws and we just couldn't get the ball to go in at the end. We executed. Theirs went in and ours didn't."
Panek led Warren with 15 points. Daniels had 12 points while Jack Wolf added 10 points.