Phillips fills it up in a Warren win

The shot — freakishly athletic, a catch-and-throw more so than a catch-and-shoot — soared vertically, hit high on the backboard, bounced on the rim and fell through the hoop.

Warren senior forward Alyssa Phillips was even fouled on the play under the Niles North basket.

So stunned that the ball dropped in, she smiled.

“I just threw it up,” Phillips said. “I don’t even know how it went in.”

Phillips had that kind of game Friday in Warren’s 54-35 win over the Vikings that evened its record at 2-2 in its own Blue Devil Classic.

Phillips’ performance — a career-high 20 points and 9 rebounds — was easier to explain than her sweet shot. She’s been flashing her potential since scoring 30 points, her “lifetime high,” as she called it, in a freshman game against Evanston three years ago.

Through four rounds of the tournament, Phillips leads all rebounders with 45. She’s averaging a double-double (12.5 points, 11.3 rebounds) in the tourney, which concludes today.

Warren (8-7) plays Grayslake Central at 4:30 p.m. today.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach some really great athletes, and Alyssa is right up there,” Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz said of the 6-foot Phillips, a two-year varsity starter who’s competed in the long jump and high jump at the state track meet. “She’s quick, she’s smart, she has good instincts, she’s long, and she has great hands. She’s a tough matchup inside, and that allows her to get to a lot of balls. And she’s tenacious. When she puts it in her mind to go and get the basketball, there’s not a lot that’s going to get in her way.”

Phillips made 8 of 12 shots from the floor, although she struggled from the stripe (4 of 11).

“I just felt more confident,” said Phillips, who had at least 1 field goal in each quarter. “And I really wanted to beat Niles North. Since I’ve been on varsity, we’ve never beaten them.”

Phillips scored three baskets on putbacks.

“I was surprising myself with some shots,” she said.

Warren led 23-11 at halftime but saw Niles North pull within 25-19 just two minutes into the second half. Blue Devils freshman guard Kylie Nedelka responded with 4 straight points, including a three-point play, and later sank another shot to help the Blue Devils take a 39-26 advantage into the fourth.

“I was happy with our energy in the second half,” Stanczykiewicz said. “I thought Niles North came out and really tried to pick up the tempo. They were playing quicker, more aggressive and certainly tried to create some things defensively.”

Nedelka opened the fourth quarter by hitting a left-wing jumper. She went 4 of 4 from the line in the final minute. Nedelka also posted a season-best point total, finishing with 14 on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor and 6-of-9 shooting from the foul line.

“She’s quick,” Phillips said. “She’s just a freshman so she’s still got stuff to improve on, like everybody else on the team, but she’s definitely building up (her game) on the varsity (level).”

Kienya Jones led Niles North with 13 points.

Warren also got good production from center Kristin Jacobs (4 points, 8 rebounds, including 6 offensive, 2 assists, 2 blocks), while guard Rachel Brown came up with 3 third-quarter steals. Sophomore guard Sammie Jo Nixon hit a pair of long jumpers, including a 3-pointer.

“It’s never a question of whether we’re going to play hard or not,” Stanczykiewicz said. “Sometimes our decision-making leaves a little to be desired, but I thought today we did a very good job of making decisions.”

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