Doubling up: Warren boys down Meigs 70-35 in season opener

VINCENT – There’s getting off to a slow start in the game of basketball, and then there’s what the Warren Warriors did against the Meigs Marauders in Vincent Tuesday night, which would’ve been akin to finishing runner-up in a turtle race.

In the first half of play the Warriors hit on just 10-of-27 shots from the field and were out-rebounded 25-14 by Meigs, including 15 offensive boards for the Marauders as what’s expected to be one of Ohio’s best teams lead by just four points after one quarter and only by a 27-14 margin at the break.

“We haven’t even come close to clicking in our scrimmages, and it showed tonight,” said Warren boys’ basketball coach Blane Maddox.

But basketball is a game of 32 minutes and not 16.

And after their sluggish start the Warriors found more than enough offensive firepower in the form of senior Reece Patton, who ignited a 26-point outburst in the third quarter as Warren claimed a 70-35 win.

“We definitely started out a little slow, but we got our rotations together and they worked a little better,” Patton said. “The second half, we knew we had to turn something on, change our attitude.”

What the Warriors turned on proved to be Patton’s shooting hand as the senior forward tallied 13 points in the third quarter on 6-of-7 shooting from the field as he led all scorers with 23 in the game.

Patton’s jumper with 7:36 in the third got the Warriors rolling and finally put a spark into the blue and white as Warren opened the second half on a 20-3 run.

“We really kicked it into the next gear,” Patton said.

That next gear kept the Warriors rolling as the lead expanded from 13 at the break to 30, 47-17, with 3:18 to play when Blake Kidder sank a pair of free throws.

After managing just 27 points in the first half, the Warriors nearly doubled that total with their 26-point third quarter that saw Warren hit one more field goal in that stanza than in the entire first half. Warren was also 11-for-20 from the field in the quarter and had five different players score to help balance Patton’s outburst.

“Him (Patton) and Maz (Aaron Mazurkiewicz) got us a little spark of energy there, and (Andrew) Henthorn,” Maddox praised.

That one quarter outburst proved to be far more than the Marauders could begin to handle as Meigs used its strong physical presence and dominance on the boards to keep the game relatively close in the first half.

Meigs had 16 rebounds in the first quarter opposed to just six for Warren and the Marauders found themselves trailing the heavily favored Warriors, who are coming off an appearance in the Final Four a year ago, by just two points when Isaiah English hit a pair of free throws with 1:55 in the opening period.

“We were flat-footed and watching a lot,” Maddox said. “We have too much size and too much physical strength to get out-rebounded.”

Kidder collected a putback basket to put the Warriors ahead by four after one, and Warren standout Evan French, who finished with 15, collected his first points of the contest with 6:23 in the second for a 14-8 lead.

Devon Cundiff’s old-fashioned three-point play brought the Marauders within three with 5:27 to play, but Meigs would get no closer.

Andrew Drayer, who provided a solid post presence for the Warriors with eight points, sparked Warren on a 13-3 run to close out the first half. Combined with the third quarter eruption behind Patton, the Warriors outscored Meigs 33-6 from the 4:43 mark of the second quarter to the 2:24 point of the third.

“Everybody did their job. We used all the positions we could,” Patton explained.

The Warriors continued their offensive fire into the fourth as they expanded the lead to 67-33 on Michael Hall’s old-fashioned three-point play. Hall, the Warriors’ third leading scorer from a year ago, finished with seven points but also had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Warren would add a three-pointer from Tanner Huck while Meigs tallied the final field goal of the game with 30 seconds to play to set the final score in the season opener for both teams.

“We know we didn’t play real well and we won by 35 points,” Maddox said. “We didn’t impress anybody tonight.”

Warren will travel to Gallia Academy on Friday for its Southeastern Ohio Athletic League opener.

“It really feels like basketball season is kicking in. We’re excited and I’m excited,” Patton said.