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Davis’ play makes a difference

Waukegan's Jerome Davis (left) Jachai Taylor (right) try get rebound from Niles West's Sammy Younan.

Waukegan's Jerome Davis (left) and Jachai Taylor (right) try to get a rebound from Niles West's Sammy Younan.

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Updated: February 13, 2013 6:07AM

During the six years that Ron Ashlaw has been head boys basketball coach at Waukegan High School, the Bulldogs have had plenty of ups and some tough downers.

But one thing has always held true.

When Ashlaw has time to prepare his team for an opponent, the Bulldogs invariably play like champs. When there’s no time — such as the second of back-to-back weekend games — the Bulldog players tend to struggle.

To get ready for Friday night’s Central Suburban League South Division game against visiting Niles West, Ashlaw had two weeks to prepare and the result was a strong performance by the home team and a 72-60 Central Suburban League South Division win.

Waukegan is now 3-2 in the division as it attempts to defend its title and is 9-7 overall. Niles West is 1-4 and 10-6.

Jerome Davis, the 6-6 junior center who missed the Pontiac tournament (coach’s decision) was in top form, scoring a game-high 23 points and grabbing nine boards.

High-flyer Devonte Taylor added 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists; Jordan Johnson had 14 points and 8 assists; and Quinton Davis (no relation to Jerome) had nine points.

Niles West got 19 points from David McCoy, 13 from Joe Youman, 11 from Ahmad Gibson and 11 from Alex Darville.

The first half was a series of runs. Niles West led 5-0 early, and then Waukegan charged to a 19-9 lead by the end of the quarter.

In the second period, Niles West pulled within 28-24, only to have the Bulldogs scored 14 straight points in the final three minutes to lead 42-27 at the break. Niles West had four turnovers in the final 1:15 of action.

Davis had 13 points and seven rebounds in the half, while Taylor had 12 points and three boards.

In the second half, the lead was never less than 10 points.

Davis missed five games all told, and was glad to be back on the court. “It feels excellent to be back. This is my family. We can be really strong when we stick together and play as a team, like we did tonight.

“It’s a lot of fun when we can play with this type of energy.

Niles West will host Rolling Meadows at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Waukegan will have a week to get ready for Glenbrook South, next Friday’s opponent in Glenview.

Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw was thrilled with the way his team played against a quality opponent.

“I was very pleased with the way we played on both ends of the court. The thing I was happiest about is that we played to the points of emphasis during the week,” he said. “We talked about making the extra pass and finding the open man, and we did that tonight ... maybe better than we have in multiple games combined.

“We had some of the best looks and execution, really since I’ve been here. That’s not easy against a team that’s as well-drilled and well-coached as Niles West.”

The coach also praised Davis who is a difference-maker.

“He was very bouncy, very spring, showed a lot of effort and a lot of desire to get to the basketball,” Ashlaw said. “When he plays like that, he can be really good.”

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