Warren runs past Libertyville
Warren would not have to worry if there was a shot clock in Illinois high school basketball.
The Blue Devils showed they can score in a hurry off turnovers, in transition off rebounds or in the half-court in Wednesday night's North Suburban Conference boys opener. They broke out to a 28-point first quarter and pulled away to a 76-41 victory over visiting Libertyville in Gurnee.
"It was a fun game," said 6-foot-6 Warren senior forward Alex Daniels.
"It's extremely fun and we have the guys built for it," said Warren freshman guard Jaxson Davis after he led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting. "Our coaches encourage us to play that way. We want to get out with the ball and push the ball in transition and get open shots. We practice that in practice every day."
It was evident as Warren (7-1, 1-0) turned 18 turnovers by Libertyville (3-4, 0-1) into 25 points. Davis hit all 3 of his 3-point attempts, had 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks and came out with 2:55 to play in the third quarter and his team leading 65-31.
Junior Immanuel Brown (17 points on 6-for-10 shooting) and junior Javerion Banks (15 points, 6 rebounds) helped the Blue Devils shoot 50 percent from the field (30-for-60) and finish with a 35-25 rebound advantage. Daniels played a big role in limiting 6-7 sophomore Bryce Wegrzyn to 6 points on 3-for-7 shooting and 6 rebounds and sophomore guard Braylon Walker also fueled the defense-to-offense with 3 steals and 4 assists.
"When we get stops on 'D' and it leads to transition and fastbreak points we're pretty good," Warren coach Zack Ryan said after his team committed only 6 turnovers. "We have guards who can pass and we have athletic big guys who can run the floor. We try to get the ball up the floor as fast as possible in the least amount of dribbles."
That also makes it tough to pick out who to stop. Davis had 14, Brown 12 and Banks 10 as Warren led 48-23 at halftime.
"The nice thing is all of our players understand we have scorers and threats all over the floor," Davis said.
That allowed Daniels, who took only 3 shots for his 6 points, to focus on containing Wegrzyn. He came in with games of 31, 24 and 20 points.
"Alex did a fantastic job on him defensively," Ryan said.
"They told me to man-lock him to start with no help responsibilities," Daniels said. "I wanted to be physical with him because he's a sophomore and I'm a senior. Our practices are super-physical so this was like second nature."
Wegrzyn came out with 2:22 left in the third after rolling an ankle. Libertyville coach Bryan Zyrkowski said Wegrzyn could have returned but there was no reason to risk it at that point. Senior Ben Van Lyssel had a team-high 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting for a team where everyone is getting accustomed to bigger roles after heavy graduation losses from last year's team that reached the supersectional.
"We're trying to gell and trying to get together and this team is a good group of kids," Zyrkowski said. "Warren's a tough team. They showed it tonight that they are one of the top teams in this conference and area. Our kids can learn a lot by how they respond walking out of the locker room and I'm confident they will."