Lights out: Warren boys down Fort Frye, 78-66
BEVERLY – Going into the showdown of arguably the two best teams in Washington County, neither the visiting Warren Warriors or the homestanding Fort Frye Cadets had dropped a single game since the calendar turned to 2013.
Tuesday night, Warren would be the one which kept its streak intact as the Warriors blew open a close game with a huge third quarter and went on to down the host Cadets 78-66 in front of a packed house.
The Warriors led the Cadets by a single point at intermission (32-31) before exploding for a 21-8 third quarter en route to their tenth consecutive win of the season.
Warren shot a blistering 70 percent in the second half (16-23) with junior standout Evan French scoring 17 of his 28 points in the final 16 minutes.
“Our team moved the ball around very well in the second half and took advantage of where we had advantages at,” said Blane Maddox, in his 14th year as Warrior head coach. “We played very smart basketball for most of the second half.”
The Cadets matched the Warriors blow-for-blow in the opening half as neither team managed a lead of more than two possessions for the entire first two quarters.
Shon Smith and Seth Lagraen each scored 10 points apiece for the Cadets in the first half and a pair of free-throws by the latter sent the Cadets to intermission trailing by a lone point.
The Cadets got a sneak preview of what was to come in the second half as Evan Yabs opened the third quarter with a three-pointer to push the lead to four at 35-31.
Smith, who shot a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe in the game, made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two, but Warren answered with an 11-2 run to increase the lead to 46-35.
Chandler Lang’s short jumper got the lead back to single digits but French scored seven points in the final two minutes of the third period to give the blue and white a 53-39 lead heading to the final period of play.
Three-pointers by Smith and Tyler Norris closed the lead to nine early in the final period, but once again the red hot Warriors took off on a 12-6 run to take a commanding 15 -point, 70-55 lead.
Warren connected on 6-of-8 shots from behind the arc in the final half and after being out rebounded by the pesky Cadets in the first half, returned the favor in the second by winning the battle of the boards 18-6.
Maddox was obviously pleased with the performance of his talented squad in the second half.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons on this team,” said Maddox of his squad who hopes to claim a number one seed at Sunday’s seedings for sectional tournament play.
“These guys work very hard to get better and better. Everybody talks about our talent, but this talent works hard.”
French’s 28 points led the way for Warren, while Reece Patton chipped in with a double-double as the junior forward scored 18 points and yanked down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Michael Hall netted nine points and had six assists for the Warriors.
Smith poured in a career-high 37 points, including 19 in the final period, but it would prove too little, too late for the Cadets.
Sophomore Seth Lagraen added 12 for the Cadets, who shot just over 38 percent (20-52) from the floor.
“I felt like our guys did a great job getting their hands in their (Warren’s) faces but their athletes just made shots and we couldn’t make the open ones,” said first-year Cadet head coach Eric Henniger.
The win improved the Warriors season record to 16-1, while the Cadets slipped to 11-6 with the loss.
Henniger hopes that playing a team as talented as the Warriors will prove beneficial to his squad as his squad begins tournament play in a few weeks.
“It’s one of those challenges that we wanted to take,” said Henniger, of the loss that was the first at home of the season for his Cadets. ‘I’m proud of our kids for not backing down against such a tough team like Warren.”
The Warriors are scheduled to return to conference action Friday night as they travel to Chillicothe, while the Cadets also journey to New Matamoras to take on the Frontier Cougars.