Sports Talk: Christmas comes early for Warriors’ sharpshooter
Christmas came early for Evan French last Saturday night.
Warren’s 6-foot-4 senior sharpshooter actually enjoyed the best of both worlds at Marietta College’s Ban Johnson Arena.
First, French achieved an individual milestone and secondly the Warriors team won, defeating previously undefeated Lucasville Valley, 64-51 in an Ohio River Classic boys’ basketball game.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Going into the contest, French was 15 points shy of 1,000 career points. With a whole lot of season left, he was – if he stayed healthy – going to reach that mark sooner or later. Nothing of course is ever guaranteed as he was limited to just three points in Warren’s 66-60 setback to Portsmouth on Dec. 10.
Thing is, on the flipside, French has also put up a couple of 40-point-plus games during his career.
So what was it going to be against the Indians (6-1), who started out defensively with a box-and-one on him.
“I think that’s what they were in,” French said. “I’ve seen that a few times.
“But all that does is it gives my teammates an opportunity to get some shots up. With more guys on me, they can get wide open.”
Junk defense or not, French connected on his first shot attempt, a triple, at the 4:27 mark of the first quarter. Those three points reduced Warren’s deficit to one (8-7).
On French’s next shot, he misfired, but on his third one, he was fouled and earned a trip to the foul line where he converted two freebies to cut Valley’s lead to 15-11.
With time running out in the opening stanza, French knocked down a three to give the Warriors their first lead in the game, 17-15.
In the second quarter, French’s only points came at the charity stripe at the 6:13 mark when, after being fouled on a 3-attempt, he buried three free throws to extend Warren’s advantage to 26-18.
At halftime, the Warriors led 28-27, and French had 11 points.
Only four to go.
In the third quarter, French went scoreless, but the Warriors clung to a 41-40 advantage, thanks to Reece Patton’s nine points.
With Warren up just three (45-42) at the 6:59 mark of the fourth quarter, French’s trifecta gave his royal blue and white team a six-point cushion.
He was now at 999.
With 5:45 remaining in the contest, French drained his fourth three of the game, making it 53-45 Warren.
He’d done it and had eclipsed the 1,000-point career mark. He now had 1,002 career points.
Immediately after French had achieved the milestone, a timeout was called, and the public address announcer relayed the information to the fans in attendance.
“I’m happy for him,” Patton said. “I knew he was close, but I didn’t even know until after the timeout when someone told me. It’s exciting, and I’m happy for him.”
Everyone there was.
“He’s worked so hard to become a great basketball player,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox. “He deserves to be a 1,000-point scorer.”
At about the midway point of the fourth quarter, French scored three more points the old-fashioned way, a bucket and bonus freebie, to extend Warren’s lead to 60-49.
At the finish, French had a game-high 20 points on 5-of-12 from the field, including four treys. At the foul line, he was a perfect 6-for-6. It was just a memorable night for the West Liberty University recruit.
“You know, I was still focused on the game,” French said. “We had to get that (win). It was a team effort.”
In the aftermath of French’s milestone, Warren played and lost a 61-39 decision at Columbus Bishop Watterson on Monday night. He had 10 points in that game.
Warren, 5-2 overall on the season, is scheduled to play another toughie against visiting and undefeated Wheeling Park (W.Va.) Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org