Turnovers and Missed Free Throws Turnout To Be Costly As The Blue Devils Fall To Zion In Their Season Opener 58-55

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Brian O'Mahoney

Junior Ryan Panek battles for loose ball in Warren’s 58-55 loss to Zion

Josh Pos, Staff Writer

A whole lot has changed since the Blue Devils last played on their home court. Not only has the world been turned upside down, but the roster has been completely flipped. Last year, Coach Jasnoch’s team was full of seniors, but this year he only has two. He also has just three returning players from last year’s roster.

Coach Jasnoch’s squad opened up their season last night with a home game versus a tough Zion team.

The Blue Devils came out of the gate hot early drilling multiple three’s in the game’s early minutes. They led 17-10 after the first quarter playing good defense matching the athleticism and physicality that the Zee-Bees possess.

Warren maintained the lead throughout the second quarter by yet again stifling the Zee-Bee offense. Three Blue Devils drew charges in the second quarter. The only thing that the Blue Devils struggled with throughout the game was free throw shooting. They shot an abysmal 8/20 (40%) from the charity stripe. “I expect we will be a much better FT shooting team than that this year,” said Coach Jasnoch. Despite the poor free throw shooting, the Blue Devils went to halftime with a double digit lead thanks to returning junior guard Gavin Cartwright hitting buzzer-beating three to extend the lead to 29-19.

After the intermission, the first minute and a half were back and forth until the Zee-Bees ramped up their full court pressure leading to turnovers and easy baskets for Zion. They ended the quarter on a 25-5 run to take a 49-40 lead at the end of the third quarter capped off by a monstrous one hand slam dunk by Zion senior forward Amar Augillard. Coach Jasnoch notes that the youth of his team played a sizable role in the third quarter. “I think it was the lack of Varsity experience vs full court pressure that hurt us especially in the 3rd Quarter.” Junior forward Cooper Stacey admits the pace of play was faster than he thought. “I’ve been trying to prepare for the pace of this for awhile, but I was a little surprised.” Cartwright said that he thought the team took too many threes and notes that the pack line defense that Zion coach Bob Worthington has implemented into his system played a role in the amount of threes taken by the Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils never gave up despite going down by their largest deficit of eleven early in the final quarter. After giving up thirty points in the third, Warren’s defense gave up just nine points in the fourth quarter. With less than twenty seconds left in the game, the Blue Devils were down one and were forced to foul sending Zion to the free throw line for a one and one. Fortunately, they missed the front end, but the Blue Devils were unable to secure the rebound as Augillard grabbed it and put it back in. That didn’t totally diminish Warren’s chances as they were down three, 58-55 with the possession of the ball and 7.5 seconds remaining. They got the ball to leading scorer Gavin Cartwright, who had 15 points at the time, but the play that was called seemed to go not as planned forcing Cartwright to hoist up a prayer that fell short. Both Cartwright and Stacey said it turned out to be a broken play on the last play. “It just didn’t look right, didn’t feel right,” said Cartwright. Despite the loss, Jasnoch says he was, “pleased with how well we ran our offense.” He also thought that the team attacked the basket well and moved the ball well in transition.  Jasnoch believes his team, “will learn from this game and get much better very quickly.” 

Despite not being in the win column last night, it was good for both Blue Devil players and coaches to be playing basketball again in the state of Illinois. It looked totally different as each player was allowed just two parents to be in the gym and always  had to be wearing masks at all times. “I don’t think [wearing masks] is that bad” said junior guard Drew Dolan on wearing a mask while playing. He notes that it was difficult at first, but learned to get used to it. He says that it’s now weird playing without a mask. 

Senior guard Julius White is just happy to be playing basketball again. “A bad day of basketball is better than anything in my book, and just to be out there playing is so special.”

As cliché as it may sound, it didn’t matter who won or who lost. It mattered that student-athletes from both Warren and Zion were finally able to play the game they love despite the pandemic.