Prep boys basketball: Warriors defeat Devils

VINCENT – With the prep basketball season moving into its second half, the Warren boys basketball team seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time.

The Warriors scored 49 first half points and went on to destroy the visiting Gallia Academy Blue Devils 92-54 Friday night in a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League contest.

Seniors’ Evan French and Reece Patton combined for 47 points and 10 different Warriors scored at least a field goal as the big blue jumped out to a big lead and never looked back.

“It took us a few minutes to get going tonight but about midway through the first quarter we really started sharing the ball and picked up our defensive intensity,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox, whose team forced 20 first-half Blue Devil turnovers. “All five guys were rotating and we just started playing really well.”

Gallia actually held a 6-3 lead with 4 minutes to play in the first quarter before the Warriors finished the opening quarter on a 15-0 run.

An inside score by Andrew Drayer got the run started and four points apiece by Patton and Blake Kidder gave the Warriors a 13-6 lead.

French drove strong to the hole to make it a nine-point lead and after a Michael Hall free throw, Patton closed out the first quarter with a bucket off of a nice assist by Hall to increase the lead to 18-6.

French missed his first three shots from long range in the first quarter but wasted little time finding his rhythm in the second as he drilled back-to-back triples to open the quarter and make it a 24-6 game.

The Devils got scores by Wes Jarrell, Reed Eastman, and Jacob Streiter to cut the lead to 28-12 but Warren finished the first half on a 21-6 run to take a commanding 49-18 lead into intermission.

The Warriors scored 31 points in the second quarter alone, including 12 from French while Andrew Henthorn came off the bench to dish out six of his game high seven assists in the second eight minutes.

“Our kids like each other and like to see each other do well,” said Maddox, whose team tallied 25 assists in the game. “We like the way our rotation is set up and happy with the strides we are making.”

In a matter of minutes in the explosive second quarter, both Hall and French brought the jam-packed crowd to its feet by dunking the basketball.

Hall drove strong on the baseline before finishing with a two-handed dunk and minutes later French broke free in transition before throwing the ball down with one hand.

Streiter opened the final half with a quick inside score for Gallia but French drilled back-to-back three balls to increase the lead to 55-20 to promptly put things away for good.

Warren shot a blistering 57.8 percent from the field in the game (37-64), including 9-of-19 (47 percent) from behind the arc.

As dominating as the offense was at times, Maddox may have been even more pleased with his team’s efforts on the defensive end.

“We talked about getting out and scoring in transition and the only way to do that is to get steals and to get them to take quick shots and we were able to do that tonight,” said Maddox.

French led all scorers with 26 points, including six from long range, while Patton chipped in with 21.

Hall and Kidder reached double figures with 12 points apiece for Warren, who improved to 10-3 with the win.

Streiter scored 14 of his team high 18 points in the second half to lead the (7-7) Devils while Eastman added 11.

Maddox hopes the game will prove to be a good tuneup for the three huge games that follow on the Warren schedule.

That stretch of tough games begins with a battle against a state ranked Bishop Hartley team in the Route 40 Classic at West Muskingum High School Sunday evening.

The Warriors will then host another state ranked team in Athens on Tuesday night before traveling to Portsmouth on Friday to take on the Trojans, the team that handed them their first loss earlier in the season

“If you like good basketball and want to see good teams go at it, just buy a ticket to a Warren game this week,” said the Warrior head coach. “I’m really pleased with how we are starting to jell. It’s a great time for things to come together with the competition we have coming up and we are really looking forward to it.”