Girls Basketball: Warren take care of WaukeganWarren's Amanda Barger (right) shoots one as Waukegan's Kai Mays defends during their basketball game at Warren. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 1, 2012 9:31PM
Waukegan junior center Syerra Cunningham dominated in the paint, but Warren’s advantage in overall talent prevailed in the end, as the host Blue Devils won 41-29 on Wednesday.
Cunningham had 18 points and 16 rebounds, keeping the Bulldogs (3-20) within striking distance throughout the contest.
But Warren got 19 points from Alexis Leneau and 11 from Amanda Barger, and that was enough to give the Devils their 18th win in 26 games.
Warren’s now won 13 of 15, making it a danger team when the playoffs begin in two weeks.
“We’ve been playing pretty well, but this is a tough game for anybody to get up for,” said Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz. “It’s an opponent you don’t know very well.
“If you go by the record, you figure the record isn’t that great. But they’re not a 3-20 team. They play in one of the toughest conferences (Central Suburban South) in northern Illinois.
The 6-foot-2 Cunningham had 13 of the Bulldogs’ first-half points which ended with ahead 22-17. That was as close as the Bulldogs would get.
“I was impressed (with Cunningham),” said Stanczykiewicz. “I thought she was the best ‘big’ on the floor.
“Alyssa Phillips played hard (14 rebounds), but with a combination of size, strength and quickness , Syerra did a heck of a job.”
Waukegan coach Brandon Brown sees his team getting better of late.
“We’ve been in our last five games,” he said. “We’re still young. I don’t like to call them sophomores (four of them start, along junior Cunningham), anymore, but they’re still developing.
“I like the fight they showed. We’re not just playing games. We’re playing to try and get better. The girls understand that.”
As for his team, Stanczykiewicz hopes it’s ready for the girls’ version of March Madness.
“The challenge for us is to get ready to play in the tournament,” he said. “This is the first time some of these girls have had this kind of success.
“It’s one thing to deal with the disappointment of losing. It’s another to learn to deal with success and keep it in proper perspective. Some of them are handling it very well. Others, I don’t know right now.”