Sports Talk: Warren vs. Athens could be a good ol’ ding-dong dilly of a donnybrook

Logan’s Jim Myers Gymnasium may not be home to either Warren or Athens, but as far as noise level goes, it could be decibel-wise the loudest indoor basketball facility in the state of Ohio at 7 p.m. Friday.

That of course is when finally the No. 2-seeded Warriors (19-3) tip off against the three-seeded Bulldogs (17-3) in a D2 sectional championship game.

Finally, because both schools were scheduled to play each other at Vincent during the regular season, but Old Man Winter threw a polar vortex into the system, and…well, you know the rest of the story.

Anyways, The Game is on, and it could be a beaut …maybe even a classic.

Blane Maddox-coached Warren won last year’s two meetings against Jeff Skinner-led Athens, 60-57 (reg season) and 74-69 in overtime (regional semi). So, there’s good reason to believe that Round 3 will be just as close.

The Warriors have the Big 3 in West Liberty recruit Evan French, Reece Patton, and Michael Hall, while the Bulldogs boast veterans’ Joe Burrow, Ryan Luehrman, Zacchia Saltzman, and Ibi Watson.

In Tuesday’s sectional opener, Warren mauled Meigs, 73-47. It was expected as the Warriors hardly broke a sweat. French (26), Patton (12), and Hall (15) combined for 53 points.

In last year’s regional semi at the Ohio University Convocation Center, French was limited to one field goal by Athens through the first three quarters before he erupted for a combined 27 points in the fourth quarter and extra session.

Needless to say, French will have the Bulldogs’ undivided attention again. But that’s OK, because there’s Patton, Hall, Andrew “Diesel” Drayer, Aaron Mazurkiewicz, Blake Kidder, and Andrew Henthorn – and all of them can hurt you.

If Warren wins this game, it’ll win as a team. Make no mistake about it.

Athens got to Friday’s O.K. Corral showdown at Jim’s Gym with a 53-34 triumph over Marietta Tuesday night. Forget the Dogs’ 19-point victory, because it didn’t come easy. The feisty Tigers (9-13) were in this contest until they faded fast and were outpointed 25-9 in the fourth quarter.

Burrow, Luehrman, Saltzman and Watson scored all but two of Athens’ points in this game.

Makes you wonder, do the Bulldogs have a bench?

If they don’t, they could be in trouble against Warren.

Athens has not lost since dropping a 67-57 decision at Akron AVSM on Jan. 10. The Dogs currently own a nine-game winning streak.

Warren’s last setback was 67-65 to visiting Wheeling Park on Dec. 30, 2013. Since then, the Warriors have captured 14 straight.

One of these schools is going to bow out Friday evening, and it’s kind of sad, because both have had super seasons.

While there are no seat belts in the bleachers at Jim’s Gym, maybe there should be for what could be a good ol’ ding-dong dilly of a donnybrook.

Look for a heart-pounding, wild and woolly ride.

Oh, yeah, better have some cough drops handy, because you’re probably going to be hoarse after The Game.

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