Prep basketball: Warren hosts Marietta tonight

While the temperature is expected to be ice cold tonight in Southeast Ohio, one place where it will be heated is Warren High School’s “Warrior Coliseum.”

That is the location where rivals Warren and Marietta will do battle on the hardwood. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. although the weather may present a challenge.

Should the game go on as planned, it will be the first meeting between Blane Maddox and Mark Duckworth as opponents. Maddox and Duckworth coached together at Warren for 14 years and will now be scheming against, rather than with, each other.

“It’s bittersweet,” Maddox said. “I’ve done this before. It’s not a whole lot of fun. You wish each other the best of luck then try like heck to beat each other.”

Duckworth will be looking to lead his Marietta team to a victory over players he once mentored.

“There are a lot of special kids out there,” Duckworth said.

“We have tremendous respect for coach Maddox and those players. It’s gonna be a challenge.”

Both teams are currently sitting on winning records, with Warren at 6-3 and Marietta at 4-3.

As far as familiarity, Duckworth expects it to work both ways rather than be an advantage for either team. “There’s not gonna be any secrets,” said Marietta’s first-year head coach.

“Ultimately, it’s gonna come down to the players on the floor.”

The Warriors are led by all-stater Evan French, who is averaging around 16 points per game this season. French recently put up 31 points in a win over Jackson and scored 30 in a win over Marietta at Sutton Gym last year. Reece Patton (15 ppg) and Michael Hall (12 ppg) give Warren a serious triple threat. Players like Andrew Drayer, Aaron Mazurkiewicz, Andrew Henthorn, Blake Kidder and Marshal Church give Warren several other options.

“Warren’s deep,” Duckworth said. “There’s a lot of good ballplayers over there.”

Marietta will likely lean on post players Braden Riley and Jonathan Wood. Riley and Wood have been able to do damage in the paint throughout the season and will look to continue that against the Warriors.

Forward Corey Hill is starting to get into a groove as well after missing some time early in the season. Hill recently led the Tigers with 14 points in a loss to New Philadelphia.

“We’ll have to try to make the court a little bit bigger,” Maddox said. “I’m sure they’ll try to shorten it. We have to put a lot of pressure on their guards so they can’t feed their big guys at will.”

Maddox noted that his Warriors “need to find a way to score some easy baskets,” which is exactly what Duckworth said his team needs to prevent.

“We have to make them earn their points,” Duckworth explained. “We can’t give up easy baskets.”

While Warren’s up-tempo style of play usually leads to high numbers on the scoreboard, Duckworth is aiming to keep those numbers as low as possible.

“If the score is in the 40s, Marietta’s gonna be in the ballgame,” Duckworth said. “If it’s up in the 50s, it’s gonna be a little tougher.”

Marietta will be going into Vincent as the underdog. In order to pull off the upset, Duckworth said the key for the Tigers will be to “control the tempo, value the basketball and make every possession count.”