ATHENS - History waits on no one, but the Warren Warriors certainly took a moment to pause for it.
After an outstanding first quarter, the Warriors had to rally from a halftime deficit to oust the Waverly Tigers from the district tournament as Warren claimed a 58-48 victory over the Tigers at the OU Convocation Center Friday night.
The victory gave the Warriors their 20th win of the season, the first time that a Warren boys' basketball team has achieved the 20 win plateau in the storied history of the program.
"We're definitely excited about it. We've been talking about it all week at practice," said Warren senior Justin Hilverding. "It's never happened at Warren. We're pretty excited to be the first team to do that."
Getting the 20th win of the 2010-2011 campaign certainly did not come easily for the Warriors, who have come so close to the mark in recent years but simply couldn't get over the hump.
Warren opened the game by hitting on eight of its first 11 field goal attempts. The problem was Waverly hit six of its first eight shots so the Warriors could hold on to just a three-point advantage after one quarter of play.
Such was the way the game went.
One team played well for a while, and then they simply traded off. The difference was the Warriors played well, longer.
"I thought we did a lot of good things," said Warren boys' basketball coach Blane Maddox.
Among those good things was the start to the game, which had the Warriors out in front 11-3 on a putback basket by Grant Venham before Waverly could find some offensive life on the strength of Harrison Martin and Jake Kretzer's inside play.
The Warriors maintained a 16-8 advantage on a three-pointer from Warren senior standout Austin Cunningham with 2:20 left in the first quarter, but Waverly would score seven of the final nine points in the opening stanza.
Scoring droughts took up large proportions of the game, and even if one of the teams was scoring it often wasn't from the field but instead the free throw line.
Warren scored just seven points after Cunningham's three-pointer gave the Warriors the 16-8 lead, and the result was the Tigers roaring out to a 27-23 advantage at the break.
About the only thing that kept the Tigers from prancing away from the Warriors was the fact that they simply couldn't hit a free throw. In the game Waverly was just 13-of-26 from the stripe.
And the Warriors couldn't rout the Tigers because they weren't much better from the stripe, connecting on just 16-of-30 attempts as the two teams combined to shoot just 52 percent from the charity stripe.
"Made enough of them to win," Maddox noted.
Getting 26 attempts from the free throw line may sound like a lot, but the Warriors were considerably happier with giving up those shots than the open jumpshots that had Waverly shooting 10-of-17 at halftime.
"No easy buckets. We'd rather them earn it at the free throw line," Hilverding said.
Waverly had to earn all of its points in the second half, particularly the third quarter as the Warriors bounced back from their five point offensive effort in the second frame.
The Warriors stepped up the defensive intensity and began pounding the ball in the paint, where Venham had 18 points on the night.
"Grant had a dominating first half. We knew if we kept getting him the ball in the post he'd keep producing," Hilverding said.
Venham's production in the paint helped produce the result of getting the Tigers big gun, Martin, into foul trouble as he picked up four fouls before the fourth quarter got started.
"He came back in there with three and we went right back at him and got that fourth real quick," Maddox praised.
By getting Martin into foul trouble, the Warriors took Waverly's best offensive weapon off the court for the bulk of the second half and Warren was able to claim the lead for good, 36-34, on Cunningham's basket with 2:37 to go in the third period.
Leading 41-35 heading into the final frame, the Warriors hit the first five points in the fourth quarter to lead by double figures for the first time on a layup by Josh Windland with 5:17 to play in regulation.
Getting 18 points of production from Cunningham and Venham, the Warriors were able to counter Waverly's effort of 21 points from Martin and 18 from Kretzer with the supporting cast.
Hastie had nine points while Windland had six and Jace Knost added four. Warren got 11 points and 13 rebounds off the bench while Waverly got little production from its reserves, as the Tigers had just one point and three rebounds contributed from bench players.
"We knew if we shut down Martin and Kretzer we had a good chance of them not scoring," Hilverding explained.
Waverly ended up going nine minutes and 32 seconds without hitting a field goal over the third and fourth quarter, getting only five free throws in that span.
Conversely the Warriors were starting to come alive, scoring 20 points in the same time frame. By the time Waverly got onto the board again with a field goal, it was far too late to stop the Warriors.
Venham's emphatic dunk off Cunningham's in-bounds pass with 16 seconds to go served as the exclamation point in the historic win for Warrior boys' basketball.
Warren will now square off against the Chillicothe Cavaliers, who defeated them twice during the regular season, in the district final at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Convocation Center.
Like a 20 win season, the district title is something Warren boys' basketball has never accomplished, and the Warriors are hoping this is the year for history.
"We got our 20, now we gotta go for that regional (appearance)," Maddox said.
Waverly 15 12 8 13 - 48
Warren 18 5 18 17 - 58
WAVERLY (11-12): Taylor Ward 1-2 2-8 4; Devin Kelly 2-8 0-1 4; Jean Paul White 0-0 0-0 0; Jake Kretzer 7-17 3-6 18; Harrison Martin 6-11 7-9 21; Davis Remy 0-1 0-0 0; Philip Hart 0-0 0-0 0; Sam Hensley 0-0 1-2 1; Zach Corcoran 0-0 0-0 0; Rod Holdren 0-1 0-0 0. Team 16-40 13-26 48. 3pt goals 1 (Kretzer 1).
WARREN (20-3): Dylan Leffingwell 1-1 0-0 2; Grant Venham 7-11 4-12 18; Justin Hilverding 0-0 0-0 0; Jeremy Hastie 2-3 3-4 9; Austin Cunningham 5-11 6-8 18; Jace Knost 1-4 2-4 4; Austin Henthorn 0-0 0-0 0; Tyler Ward 0-3 1-2 1; Josh Windland 3-4 0-0 6. Team 19-37 16-30 58. 3pt goals 4 (Cunningham 2, Hastie 2).
Waverly: Shooting 16-40 (40 percent); 3pt shooting 1-14 (7 percent); Rebounds 26 (Kretzer 8); Assists 5 (Ward 2, Martin 2); Steals 6 (Kretzer 2); Turnovers 14; Total fouls 18
Warren: Shooting 19-37 (51 percent); 3pt shooting 4-10 (40 percent); Rebounds 26 (Venham 9, Knost 6); Assists 10 (Cunningham 7); Steals 6 (Windland 2); Turnovers 11; Blocks 1 (Venham 1); Total fouls 19.