Warriors come up short
ATHENS — Warren High needed a big game from Josh Huffman — and got it.
The 6-foot-5 senior pivot player posted a double-double with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, but the third-seeded Warriors still came up short, dropping a 48-44 decision to second-seeded Unioto High Friday night in an Ohio Division II district semifinal at the Ohio University Convocation Center.
“A lot of people think they’ve got better players than Josh Huffman around here, but he’s a good one,” said WHS head coach Blane Maddox. “He can play with anybody, and I hope he has a great career. He’s going on to play college ball. He works so hard in practice. He never quits, and that’s why we don’t quit.”
Also playing their last game as a Warren cager were seniors Thomas Williams, Troy Huck and Jared Hall.
Against Unioto, Warrior junior Clay Miller added eight points, junior Noah Nichols seven, and Huck five. The royal blue and white team finished with a solid 17-7 record, including a sectional championship.
“We knew we had to get to 50, and we couldn’t get there,” Maddox said. “We held them (Sherman Tanks) to 48 and I thought if we could hold them in the 40s, we’d win.”
Unioto (21-2) was paced by Logan Swackhammer’s 20 points, including three triples and seven freebies. Brandon Kennedy and Chance Smith each chipped in with eight, while Peyton Hill and Gabe Fisher had seven and five, respectively. The Sherman Tanks canned seven trifectas and were 9 of 15 from the line.
Sparked by Kennedy’s eight first-quarter points, Unioto staked itself to a 15-10 advantage. Keeping the Warriors in the hunt, Huffman had seven points.
In the second quarter, Huffman continued to have the hot hand, scoring seven points. Nichols also had seven as Warren took a 28-26 halftime lead. Swackhammer kept the Tanks close with two late triples.
The third quarter proved to be pivotal as the Sherman Tanks outpointed the Warriors, 10-4, and led 36-32 going into the final period.
“We couldn’t get a bucket in the second half and only had four points in the third quarter,” Maddox said. “We had some good looks. They put a little bit more pressure on us, and we turned it over. But I’m proud as heck, we were within four.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, Huffman and Miller each had a bucket to tie the game at 36-all. The Warriors then took the lead on another Huffman deuce.
But Unioto regained the advantage when Smith knocked down a 3 and Swackhammer converted a pair at the line, making it 41-38. After that, the Sherman Tanks never looked back, and Swackhammer made six foul shots down the stretch to help keep the Warriors at bay.
“We just didn’t get it done, but I’m so proud of this team,” Maddox said. “I hate to see them go. It’s been a great season for us, and we didn’t go as long as we wanted but we went out battling. That’s all you can ask for.”