Libertyville avenges Warren loss, wins regional
After losing to Warren on the road in late January while short-handed, top-seeded Libertyville was on its guard Friday night when the Wildcats visited the No. 8-seeded Blue Devils again in a Class 4A regional championship game.
But this time around Libertyville (27-5) was ready for anything that Warren (18-15) threw at them as the senior-dominated Wildcats squad built a 33-20 halftime advantage before maintaining a 50-37 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
Overall there was very little drama for the Libertyville fans as the Wildcats posted a solid 67-55 victory to advance to the sectional semifinals Tuesday against No. 5-seeded host Barrington at 7 p.m.
Really great teamwork was the biggest key to Libertyville's success as senior starters Kaj Sorensen (16 points), Will Buchert (15 points, 4 assists), Jack Huber (14 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), Aidyn Boone (11 points) and Cole Bonder (4 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) were all key contributors to the 12th regional title in school history.
Buchert did not play in the previous contest at Warren while Sorensen missed part of that game as well.
"These guys have played a lot of games without our team at full strength, but tonight to get everybody back playing in this atmosphere we had a lot of guys with experience that have handled this pressure," said Libertyville coach Brian Zyrkowski, whose team beat Warren 61-45 at home. "I thought our rebounding the second half especially was excellent, and I think that they complement each other very well."
An inside basket by Warren's Josh Stewart cut the Wildcats' lead to 47-37 late in the third quarter. But Libertyville pulled away again as Boone's inside hoop assisted by Huber tied its biggest lead at 62-44 with 2:50 to play.
Warren senior Adam Panek and Stewart scored 10 points each followed by teammates Patrick Sengco with 9 points, Javerion Banks (8 points), Braylon Walker (7 points) and Amarias Stephens (6 points).
"Obviously losing hurts and it's tough, but they're a really good team," said first-year Warren coach Zack Ryan. "I'm just really thankful for my seniors. These guys were so accepting of me in my first year, and the reason we were successful is that we had six really good seniors."
After losing to Barrington in the sectional finals last year, the Wildcats will definitely be looking for some revenge against the Broncos next week.
"We're happy to win, but we've still got some more games to go and some unfinished business," said Sorensen, whose team led 17-10 after one quarter. "Obviously we lost to Barrington last year in the sectional finals. We've got a lot of returning guys, and we've got a lot of guys who want that win back."