Prep boys basketball: Warren downs Knights

VINCENT – An opposing player dropping 35 points would have most coaches pretty fired up at the defense.

But when that player is Fairfield Christian senior Steven Carpenter giving up 35 points is, well, pretty good actually.

“We knew he was going to get his points. We just wanted to make sure they weren’t enough to beat us,” said Warren senior Evan French, who had 27 points of his own.

Despite Carpenter’s dominating performance, the Warriors proved they would have the last laugh as the rest of the Fairfield Christian team combined to shoot just 10-of-41 from the field as Warren claimed a 76-65 victory in Vincent Saturday night.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on defense in practice, trying to pressure the ball and make them make bad passes,” French said.

While the Knights counted on Carpenter’s huge offensive performance, the Warriors proved that a little depth and a little balance far surpasses one juggernaut. Along with French’s 27 points, the Warriors got 19 from Reece Patton, 14 from Michael Hall and 11 from Andrew Drayer in the victory.

“Our offense is deep. We have threats all over the court,” said Drayer, who finished on rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards and four assists.

The Warriors would need every bucket, as despite never trailing in the contest they could never get out to a comfortable margin.

“When you get up 10 and you know a guy can put 12 up in a hurry, that scares you,” explained Warren boys’ basketball coach Blane Maddox.

That concern proved quite relevant, as four different times the Warriors built double-figure leads only to watch them narrow down to a handful of possessions as Carpenter keyed the Fairfield Christian offense.

First quarter play proved to be the closest between the two teams as French opened the game’s scoring with a three off Drayer’s assist. That basket was followed by Patton’s jumper in the lane off a dime from Hall, but the Warriors couldn’t keep their momentum.

Carpenter collected one of his 11 offensive rebounds to get Fairfield Christian on the board and the Warrior lead would be just two points with 40 seconds to play in the opening stanza.

“They just outrebounded us,” Maddox said. “When you get an offensive rebound there’s a good chance you’re going to get a bucket or a foul.”

Rather than let momentum slide away, Patton hit a jumper with seven seconds to keep the Warren lead secured, and the margin wouldn’t drop below three again.

Warren would push the lead out to seven points at the break, 35-28, and enjoyed its strongest offensive performance in the third quarter as the Warriors outscored the Knights 23-12 in the stanza, capped by French’s three as time expired in the period.

Instead of fading quietly into the night, the Knights roared back by scoring 10 of the first 14 points in the fourth quarter. The deficit would get all the way down to six with less than a minute to play, but clutch free throws by the Warriors at the end kept the Knights at bay.

And to put the exclamation point on the victory, Hall collected a pass from Drayer and put down a two-handed power dunk with seven seconds to play to thrill the crowd, as the Warriors have now accounted for two of the Knights’ five losses on the season.

“It feels good to know that our team is coming along, getting better every day,” Drayer said.

The win improves the Warriors to 13-3 on the season, with the next test in their rigorous schedule coming on Monday when they play host to the potent Athens Bulldogs, who also feature a 13-3 record going into the game.

“We’re going to need a big home crowd and a loud crowd,” Maddox said. “We really need to support these guys.”