Warren gets past Carmel for tournament crown

There were a lot of ups and downs for the boys basketball teams from Warren and Carmel Catholic Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the Grant/Mundelein Thanksgiving Tournament.

The Blue Devils fell behind 8-0 right out of the gates as the Corsairs came out on fire offensively.

But despite trailing Carmel 30-18 late in the first half and 30-22 at halftime, Warren (3-1) was able to turn the tables on the Corsairs (3-1) in the second half as the Blue Devils barely held on for a 49-48 victory in a wild end to the tourney.

The final 26.9 seconds decided the outcome as Warren's Andrew Dolan hit 2 free throws for a 46-43 lead. Carmel sophomore Josh Stewart (11 points) answered that with 2 free throws to cut the gap to 46-45 with 15.3 seconds to play before Warren's Gavin Cartwright (team-high 12 points) boosted the lead back to 48-45 with 2 free throws with 13.5 seconds remaining.

Then Carmel's Bryce Moore (game-high 15 points) hit the first of 2 free throws, but his second free throw was disallowed due to a crucial lane violation by a teammate with 9.8 seconds left. One of 2 free throws by Cartwright boosted the lead to 49-46 with 8.9 seconds left before Moore had his 3-point attempt blocked with 1.5 seconds to go. But on the final play of the game Moore was fouled on a 3-pointer setting the stage for a potential overtime game. But after hitting the first 2 free throws, Moore's third free throw hit the back of the iron sealing a narrow win for the Blue Devils.

Free throw shooting hurt Carmel as it only hit 7-for-20 (35%) in the contest to 10-for-18 for Warren.

"Credit to them. We got out to that early lead and I thought they executed their game plan really well," said Carmel coach Zack Ryan. "We just couldn't get into a rhythm on offense, and we really missed (Luke Nalewajk), who missed the last two games due to a concussion."

Two baskets by Nate Harris gave the Blue Devils their first lead at 42-40 with 5:32 to play.

Cooper Stacey joined Cartwright in double figures with 10 points. Warren's balanced scoring saw Adam Panek score 9 points, Andrew Dolan 8, and Harris 7. A.J. Ajaga and Inigo Garcia-Baquero chipped in 6 points each for Carmel.

"We really just fought through adversity honestly, and we live off the constant drive to do better," said Cartwright. "We never give up, we came together and fought no matter what."

Stacey, Dolan and Harris made the all-tournament team for the Blue Devils while Moore, Asher Jackson, and Kaleb Jackson were on the all-tourney team for the Corsairs.

"It was a great early-season basketball game. I was really happy with the resilience we showed," said Warren coach Jon Jasnoch. "We kept bouncing back and playing our game. Our guys take pride in our defense and to hold a really good Carmel team under 50 points was great."

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