Sports Talk: French, Warren could hurt STVM Irish with 3-point bombs

After one of Warren junior Evan French’s five first-half threes against New Philadelphia Saturday, the Ohio University Convocation Center public address announcer said, “And that one came from the Belpre bridge.”

Later, the PA guy would say, “And that one came from Route 7.”

Many people may have been waiting for him to say, “And that one came from Paris, France.” But that was never said.

French, who was recently honored as an Ohio Division II All-Ohio first teamer, seemingly is in range as soon as he crosses the half court line. In Warren’s 74-69 regional semifinal overtime triumph against Athens, he torched the Bulldogs for 27 of his team-high 29 points after the intermission.

French was like a time bomb in the Athens game. The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter just went off – at the right time, too.

Against New Philly in the regional final, French pretty much picked up where he left off.

“I was just trying to light it up, I guess,” said French, modestly, after the Warriors (26-1) clinched a berth at state in Columbus with a 49-47 win over the Quakers. “It carried over a little bit (from the Athens game).

“Coming out, we thought it would be important to get a spark going and not to get off to a slow start because it might be hard to come back.”

French was limited by New Philly to six second-half points one field goal and four freebies – and finished with a team-high 21 points, which is a couple of points above his average per game (19.7).

More importantly to French, though, Warren survived a furious second-half comeback by New Philadelphia and won the game on point guard Evan Yabs’ buzzer-beating putback.

“I love my teammates,” French said. “They’re everything to me, and it just feels so good to be going to state. It’s been something we’ve been working for all year.”

Warren is scheduled to play Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (19-9) in a state semi at Value City Arena at 5:15 p.m. today. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Irish defend French and the Warriors’ other three-point shooters.

French is not the royal blue and white’s only threat from behind the arc. All-Ohio honoree Reece Patton, Michael Hall, Dylan Leffingwell, Danny Pannell, Adam Lang, and Yabs are all very capable of knocking down the three.

Will STVM go man-to-man? Perhaps. Or, will the Irish resort to a 2-3 zone like they did in their regional final win against Warrensville Heights?

It won’t matter to French.

“All of my teammates have stepped up in big situations,” he said. “If one guy’s not getting the shots up, another guy is going to step up and get them. That’s just the great thing about our team. We don’t have one or two scorers but five or six or seven scorers on our team.”

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com