Sports Talk: Warren boys deserve notice

A lot of high school boys’ basketball coaches don’t give polls a second thought during the season.

After all, it’s not where a team is now but where it finishes in March that really matters.

Still, to be included in the poll is a sign of respect – of recognition.

The Warren boys’ team in Vincent is lacking that in the state, now – and it’s undeserving.

Last year’s schedule was challenging, and the Blane Maddox-coached Warriors (26-2), who finished ninth in the final Division II poll, advanced to the Final Four at state in Columbus.

This year’s royal blue and white slate is even tougher, and as a result, there’s been some setbacks.

Of course, wins and losses always have a lot to do with the pollsters’ thinking. The Warriors currently own a 12-3 overall record with losses to league rival Portsmouth, Division II second-ranked Bishop Watterson, and Class AAA-ranked Wheeling Park (W.Va.).

Warren also has wins against Fairfield Christian, Division III ninth-ranked Lucasville Valley, D3 10th-ranked Bishop Hartley, and always-tough Fort Frye.

It’s doubtful many schools in the state play a more difficult hoops schedule than Warren.

The Warriors could possibly get the pollsters’ attention if they beat visiting Fairfield Christian again Saturday, Athens Monday, and Fort Frye again Tuesday.

Warren is certainly taking it one game at a time. But muzzling the Bulldogs from The Plains would be huge. Last year, the Warriors downed AHS twice, once during the regular season and the other time in the playoffs at the Ohio University Convocation Center. Both games were nail-biters.

Currently, Athens is recognized in the D2 poll with 12 or more points.

Even if the Warriors were to lose to the Bulldogs Monday, they still deserve to be mentioned in the D2 poll just on strength of schedule alone.

Meanwhile, the royal white and blue cagers are also 5-1 in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL), which they claimed outright last season.

If they defeat visiting Jackson (Feb. 7) and win at Logan (Feb. 14), and the Portsmouth Trojans (10-3, 4-1) capture their remaining league contests, the two schools will share the conference title this winter.

Last Friday night at Portsmouth, Warren avenged an early-season loss with a 68-57 triumph over the Trojans. What was impressive about the victory was the scoring balance and defense as the Warriors limited the home team to two first-quarter points.

Offensively, Reece Patton scored a career-high 27 points; West Liberty Hilltoppers’ recruit Evan French added 16 markers; Andrew “Diesel” Drayer had 11; and Michael Hall netted nine.

With Aaron Mazurkiewicz and Andrew Henthorn sharing the point and playing tenacious defense, the Warriors took care of the basketball with only eight turnovers. Portsmouth had 14.

Blake Kidder scored only three points off the royal blue and white pine, but everybody knows he’s very capable of a double-digit game.

Warren definitely has what it takes personnel-wise, and currently is as good as any school in D2’s Top-10.

Maybe the pollsters will take notice in the near future.

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