Warren's boys basketball team did so much right and, to punctuate the night, Mitch Munda did the right thing.
"This is, by far, the best we've played," coach Chuck Ramsey said after his Blue Devils remained undefeated, while knocking New Trier from the unbeaten ranks with a 64-46 win in Gurnee on Saturday night.
The 6-foot-4 Munda, a second-year varsity player and first-year starting guard, scored a career-high 18 points, including a 3-pointer, grabbed 5 rebounds (all on the offensive glass) and dished out 2 assists.
He had scored only 16 points in Warren's first four games.
"Mitch Munda had his breakout game of his varsity career," Ramsey said. "He's been playing well for us, and tonight he put a lot of things together."
Munda, who's also been Warren's "most energetic, committed defender," Ramsey said, had a chance to dunk late in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand for the hosts. Instead of having some fun at New Trier's expense, however, Munda thought better of it and did the sportsmanlike thing by pulling the ball back out.
The dunk would have given him 20 points. His teammates razzed him about it.
"That's why they're giving me grief," Munda said while teammates were heckling him in the locker room.
Munda sparked Warren (5-0) particularly in the third quarter. He scored 9 points and grabbed 3 offensive boards. His 3-pointer with 44 seconds left extended the Blue Devils' lead to 43-35 heading into the fourth.
"We were struggling," Munda said. "I just had to step up and try to get some easy buckets. I'm just trying to help the team any way I can."
New Trier (5-1) was within 34-31 with less than four minutes left in the third, but Munda scored in the lane off a pass from Nathan Boothe and then put back his own miss for a 38-31 edge.
"I thought the tempo, the way the game was going, was completely in our favor until halfway through the third quarter," New Trier coach Scott Fricke said. "We had a couple of chances to take the lead. I liked the way we were moving the ball, getting in the lane and kicking out, and then all of a sudden it turned into the offensive rebounding show. They just killed us on the offensive boards."
New Trier had a hard time keeping Munda, Darius Paul (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Boothe (13 points, 8 rebounds) off the glass. Boothe had only 3 points and no rebounds in the first half.
Warren also distributed the ball extremely well, collecting 20 assists, led by big men Paul (6) and Boothe (5). Point guard Jameris Smith dished out 4 assists and committed only 1 turnover.
"This is one of the best teams in the state," Fricke said. "No team is going to match up to this team's size, except for maybe Whitney Young or somebody like that. Not only do they have size, but they're strong kids. Boothe is a wide load, and he's a skilled basketball player. Paul almost has guard-like skills for a 6-9 kid. And then you add some of the other kids Munda and (6-6 Roman) Schultz. They just keep bringing 6-6 off the bench."
Sharpshooting guard David Bragiel led New Trier with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Steven Cook and 6-7 Connor Boehm had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Warren outscored New Trier 21-11 in the fourth, with Schultz getting all 6 of his points in the quarter.
"I thought the whole team played well," Ramsey said. "New Trier is an excellent team and has been playing really well. Excellent shooters."