Rivalry game: Dawson to lead Marietta against Warren tonight

Erica Dawson closed out 2012 as Marietta High’s all-time leading basketball scorer.

Going into the Dec. 27 Jack Stephens Memorial Holiday Tournament championship game at Memorial Fieldhouse in Parkersburg, the 5-foot-9 senior standout needed just five points to tie Shawna (Daugherty) McKnight’s mark of 1,382 career points.

Dawson finished with 27 points to lead the Lady Tigers to a 50-40 triumph over Winfield (4-3).

“I wasn’t thinking about the record, and nobody said anything to me until after the game,” said Dawson, who is averaging 31 points per game this season. “I was happy and excited about it, of course, but it was kind of a surprise and I wasn’t expecting it.”

Dawson and her Lady Tiger teammates are now focused on the next game – and it’s a big one.

While Marietta High and Warren are scheduled to meet for the first time this basketball season at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Sutton Gym, these two girls’ squads know each other quite well. “Everybody knows everybody,” Dawson said. “That makes it fun, but it also makes it more intense because it’s a rivalry game. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”

Last season, Scott Cozzens-coached MHS was 3-0 against Amy Colgrove-led Warren, and the schools would have played each other a fourth time in the Ohio Division II regional tournament at Zanesville High if both had won in the semis. (Both were ousted with the Lady Tigers finishing 19-5 and the Lady Warriors 18-6) Going into 2012-13 play, Marietta had everybody back from last winter, except graduate Amanda Brown, while Warren graduated only Allie Grace Proctor and Kasey White.

So far, MHS is off to a 6-1 start, and coming off the win against Winfield. The Lady Tigers have now captured the PHS tourney two years in a row.

“We’re playing good ball,” Cozzens said. “But we need to tighten up our defense. We’re just giving up too many points.”

Warren on the other hand is 5-3, and looking to get back in the “W” column after setbacks to Maysville (58-43, Thursday) and Parkersburg South (63-44, Saturday) in the Ohio River Classic at Marietta College’s Ban Johnson Arena.

Marietta’s triumph over Winfield was a bounce-back victory as the Lady Tigers suffered its first loss of the campaign in the previous game, a 50-40 decision at Rosecrans. Dawson had 36 of the orange and black’s 40 points in the setback.

Against Winfield, Dawson had more help as Lexi Walsh and Taylor Smith chipped in with eight markers apiece.

Against Warren, MHS is expected to start all seniors – Lusia Barton, Kaitlyn Cozzens, Haley Bonar, Kristen Hill, and Dawson.

“The seniors have never lost to Warren,” Scott Cozzens said.

Warren’s leading scorer on the season is Jordanna Rauch. Against Maysville, the Lady Warrior senior only had three points, but sophomore Victoria Buzzard was able to step up with a team-high 13 markers.

The Lady Warriors made 17-of-38 from the floor and were one-of-seven behind the 3-point line to go with 18 turnovers against Maysville (9-1).

Some other royal blue and white players to keep an eye on will be Mackenzie Brooks, Mackenzie Ullman, Kendra Lynch, Amy Fleming and Emma Ryan.

Even though Marietta claimed three wins against Warren last season, all three games were relatively close (72-63, 58-53 and 64-60).

Dawson, all-everything and Xavier University-bound after graduation in the spring, is considered to be one of the best players in Ohio, and expected to get her points. The Lady Tiger star will need offensive help, though, similar to what she got against Winfield if her team is to prevail.

“If we play our game, things’ll work out,” Dawson said.

Warren will have its work cut out for itself, guarding Dawson. But the Lady Warriors are hoping to do what Rosecrans did, and shut down the rest of the Lady Tiger team. If they can do that and get Rauch’s shooting back on target, this game could be a real nail-biter.

“I don’t look for us to completely stop Erica,” Colgrove said. “We are going to have to play good team defense and make her work for her shots.”

Said Cozzens, “Amy and her team did a good job on Erica last season. They mixed it up really nice.”