Prep boys basketball: Warren boys 21-1
VINCENT – The Warren Warriors capped off the best regular season in school history Saturday night with a 58-47 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League victory over the visiting Portsmouth Trojans.
Warren fought off a valiant Portsmouth second half comeback attempt to finish the regular season with a 21-1 record, the most regular-season victories in school history.
“It has been just an outstanding season for us,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox, whose team had long ago clinched the 2012-2013 SEOAL title. “Twenty-one wins is a lot of wins for anybody and I am a very proud of our team for coming out and performing every night.”
On Friday night the Warriors easily handled the Jackson Ironmen by a 68-22 margin and appeared to be well on their way to a blow out victory over Portsmouth as they cruised to a 34-16 lead at intermission.
Reece Patton and Evan French each scored 11 points in the opening half and a tenacious Warrior defense limited Portsmouth to just 23 percent shooting (six-for-26).
Dylan Leffingwell got the second half started the same way he did the first as the Warren senior grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to send the Warren lead to 20 at 36-16.
Portsmouth began to mount its challenge as freshman guard Kyre Allison drove strong to the basket and senior Jayllen Carter connected on the first Trojan trey of the game to cut the lead to 15.
After Leffingwell connected on one-of-two free throw attempts, once again Allison and Carter combined on back-to-back scores to trim the lead to 37-25 with 3:25 to play in the third.
The Warriors, who connected on an even 50 percent (13-of-26) of their first half shot attempts, went ice cold in the second half as they hit just six-of-23 attempts (26 percent).
Michael Hall scored a pair of buckets late in the third to increase the big blue lead back to 15, but Conner Lasswell drilled a triple to close the lead to 45-32 heading to the final eight minutes of action.
The 6-foot-5 Hall was limited to just nine points in the game, but the sophomore contributed nine boards, six assists and four steals for the Warriors.
“Michael (Hall) plays hard every game,” said Maddox, in season number 14 as Warren head coach. “He is going to get stronger and stronger, and he should just continue to get better and better.”
Lasswell’s second three-pointer of the game made it a ten point game, but senior Adam Lang answered with an inside score on a nice assist from Leffingwell to push the Warrior lead to 47-35.
Carter, the leading scorer on the season for head coach Eugene Collins and his Trojans, who had been held in check by the Warrior defense for the most of the game, picked the right time to get the hot hand as he scored eight-of-nine Portsmouth points in a 9-0 run that closed the lead to 47-44 with just over three minutes to go.
After a Warren timeout, Hall found Patton wide open for an inside bucket and French followed with a pair of freebies to push the lead back to seven.
Allison’s score and a free throw by Hunter Gibson drew Portsmouth to within six, but the Warriors took care of business at the charity stripe the rest of the way to secure their 15th consecutive victory of the season.
French, who was a perfect six of six from the line in the game, led the royal blue and white with 19 points while Patton added 13 points and six assists.
Carter scored 19 points, including 15 in the second half for the Trojans, while Allison and Gibson finished with nine points apiece.
Warren finished the season with a 21-1 overall record as well as a perfect 10-0 record in the SEOAL.
Portsmouth slipped to 10-12 on the season.
The Warriors will now turn their attention to a sectional championship matchup Saturday in Logan as they take on the winner of Tuesday night’s Marietta versus New Lexington matchup.
“We are just going to stay positive and take things one game at a time, ” said Maddox of his top-seeded Warrior squad. “I believe our defense has become so solid this year that we should be able to overcome a lot of obstacles in the tournament.”
Prior to the varsity game, the Warriors’ junior varsity squad led by head coach Mark Duckworth completed the first undefeated season in Warren J.V. history with a 63-26 victory over Portsmouth.