Safe to surmise, Marietta High and Warren won't be exchanging any Valentine's Day gifts when the two schools play each other in a Division II sectional girls' basketball opener at Meigs High at 6:15 p.m. tonight.
It's the rubber match in this winter's hoops series, and a war on the hardwood is expected.
"It will be our toughest game in many weeks," said Marietta coach Scott Cozzens. "We will have to be very disciplined on defense if we are going to be in the game on Thursday. We will have to rebound the ball the way we were early in the year. We will also have to play with composure."
Warren's Mackenzie Brooks (3) drives upcourt past the defense of Jackson's Madison Ridout (13) during the first quarter of a girls' basketball game in Vincent last Saturday night. Warren upset Jackson 59-56. Now, the Lady Warriors turn their attention to Marietta in a sectional opener at Meigs tonight.
The only thing for certain is that this will be the last game of the campaign for one of these schools.
"It is a shame that we have to meet so early in the tournament," said Warren coach Amy Colgrove. "I think we are two of the better teams in the district."
Last year, the MHS and Warren girls each advanced in sectional and district tournament play. Also, the Lady Tigers and Lady Warriors each was one win away from meeting each other a fourth time. If that had happened, one of them would've gone to state.
But as it turned out, both bowed out in the regional semis.
Now, one of them is going to go one and out in this postseason. Period.
During regular-season play, Marietta (13-9) and Warren (13-8) split with the Lady Tigers winning 62-57 at Sutton Gym on Jan. 2 and the Lady Warriors returning the favor 44-37 in Vincent.
Until the last game, the Marietta seniors had never been beaten by Warren. One of the reasons for this was a player by the name of Erica Dawson.
The 5-foot-9 Dawson, who is Xavier University-bound after graduation in the spring, has been a scoring machine throughout her career, and feasted off Warren's defense.
In the first meeting this season, Dawson scored 41 points against the Lady Warriors. She was the only Lady Tiger to score in double digits, so in essence the royal blue and white cagers were beaten by one player.
Then, Dawson broke her right wrist in a game at Waterford on Jan. 12.
She was not expected to play in the second game at Warren on Jan. 30, but was cleared for action prior to tip-off.
Wearing a protective brace on her shooting hand, Dawson scored a game-high 24 points - but this time it was not enough. Again, she was the only Lady Tiger to score in double figures.
Ironically, Warren only had one player in double digits, too, with Jordanna Rauch tallying 14 markers. But the Lady Warriors had a little more balanced attack as Mackenzie Ullman netted nine, Emma Ryan had eight, and Victoria Buzzard seven.
With last Saturday's 59-56 upset of previously undefeated Jackson (21-1), Warren has some momemtum going into sectional play. Again, the Lady Warriors had good balance with Ryan scoring 18, Buzzard 17 and Rauch 11.
Warren's probable starters will be Kendra lynch, Mackenzie Ullman, Amy Fleming, Rauch, and Ryan.
In a tune-up game for tournament play, the Lady Warriors defeated Chillicothe 57-26 on Monday.
"I watched Warren take down the No. 4 team (Jackson) in Division 2 in the state on Saturday," Cozzens said. "They are playing their best basketball right now and I see no weakness in their play.
"If you watched the game and didn't know which one was ranked you would have had a tough time trying to decide. At this point you would have to consider them the best team in the southeast district."
The royal blue and white may be thinking that if it can beat the Ironladies, it can beat anybody - and maybe even contain Dawson.
That of course is a lot easier said than done.
Dawson is expected to get her points.
The question for Marietta is, who's going to help Dawson out?
The Lady Tigers have a lot of good players in Kristen Hill, Taylor Smith, Lain Weppler, Lexi Walsh, and Kaitlyn Cozzens to name but a few, who are very capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
Some other Lady Tigers to keep an eye on will be Luisa Barton, Lauren Martin, Starr Johnson, Brittany Deskins, and Haley Bonar.
MHS has been struggling of late, losing 58-38 to Zanesville last Saturday. The Lady Tigers bounced back with a 72-43 triumph over Waterford on Monday. The orange and black cagers will need to be at the top of their game when they play Warren.
And, so will the Lady Warriors.
Any way you look at it, this game figures to be close from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer.
All the fans need to do is fasten their seatbelts.
"The tournament is a reward the girls get in the game of basketball," Cozzens said. "You practice hard, play a long season, deal with many obstacles and hopefully learn and get better.
"Once the second season comes along there is new life. We tell our kids that this is their reward, play hard and have fun and let's see where it takes us."
Said Colgrove, "Should be an exciting game just like the previous two games. It will come down to who can execute and make plays at the end of the ballgame."
Also in girls' sectional play tonight at 7 p.m. will be Monroe Central versus Shenandoah at Cambridge.
On Saturday, Fort Frye is slated to face Bellaire at 7:30 p.m. at Cambridge High. Morgan squares off against River View at 6 p.m. at Tri-Valley; and at 2:45 p.m. Waterford is pitted against Symmes Valley at Athens High in The Plains.
Symmes Valley defeated Trimble High, 39-38, in a sectional opener on Monday.