Home sweet Convo: Warriors have won 5 straight at Ohio U. venue
Head coach Blane Maddox and his Warren Warriors are beginning to get to know their way around the Convocation Center on the campus of Ohio University in Athens rather well.
As a matter of fact you could even say that the Convo has become the home away from home for the Warriors as they have reeled off five consecutive wins at the home of the Bobcats dating back to last season’s tournament run.
Saturday night, the Warriors will look to make it six-in-a-row as they take on the number-one seeded Logan Elm Braves with a district championship and a trip to the regionals on the line.
Last year, Warren defeated Unioto and Vinton County rather easily before pulling off dramatic victories over Athens and New Philadelphia, respectively, as it made its school’s first-ever trip to the state Final Four in Columbus.
First team All-Ohio selection Evan French put on an absolute clinic against Athens last year as he scored 27 points in the final eight minutes of the overtime game as the Warriors pulled out a 74-69 come-from-behind victory over the Bulldogs.
Four days later, Evan Yabbs played the role of hero for the royal blue as his putback basket at the buzzer provided the Warriors with a 49-47 win over the Quakers and a regional championship.
Last Friday, the No. 2- seeded Warriors downed the Circleville Tigers 57-52 to set the stage for the huge showdown against Logan Elm.
The Braves come into the contest sporting a 22-2 record with their only losses of the season coming at the hands of Liberty Christian (71-56) and Bloom Carroll (55-31).
Last week, following the Warriors win over Circleville, Logan Elm downed Minford 57-46 to earn the right to battle Warren for the district title.
Logan Elm head coach Doug Stiverson was just tabbed Division II, South Eastern Ohio District Coach of the Year earlier this week, while senior guard Dillon Young was named to the first team.
Young led the Braves in scoring on the season by averaging 20.4 points a game while 6-foot-3 senior Logan Thompson garnered second team honors after averaging 16.1 points per game.
That tandem led the way for LE in its win over Minford as it tallied 24 and 10 points, respectively, while freshman Ridge Wood added eight and senior Casey Tyler chipped in with seven.
Of course, the Warriors made a strong showing of their own in the postseason district awards as for the second consecutive year French was named District Player of the Year.
French, who will play his collegiate ball next season at West Liberty, comes into the game averaging 23.5 points per game and is likely to once again claim first team All-Ohio honors.
Both Reece Patton and Michael Hall earned second team all-district honors for the royal blue and white after averaging 13.8 and 15.6 points per game respectively.
Patton seems to play his best in big games as evidenced by his 17-point, 11-rebound game against Circleville on a night when the Tigers managed to limit French to just a pair of second-quarter triples and 16 total points.
Joining the Big 3 in the Warrior starting lineup figures to be point guard Aaron Mazurkiewicz and big 6-foot-3 Andrew “Diesel” Drayer.
First off the bench for Warren figures to be juniors’ Blake Kidder and Andrew Henthorn as well as senior Marshal Church.
With the Warriors trailing by 11 points in the opening quarter against Circleville, Henthorn provided a big spark off the bench by coming up with a steal, taking a charge, and draining a three to help Warren dig itself out of a big hole and rally for the win.
Warren will have a rather substantial size advantage over Logan Elm as Patton and Drayer both stand 6-foot-3, while French (6-4) and Hall (6-6) are very athletic for their height.
Thompson at 6-3 in the tallest Logan Elm player on its roster.
The two powerhouses have played just two like opponents on its schedule this year with Logan Elm defeating Athens once early in the season and Circleville twice, while Warren defeated the same two opponents in its only match up with each school.
The (21-3) Warriors’ only losses of the season came before the calendar changed to 2014 as they dropped early-season decisions to Portsmouth, Bishop Waterson and Wheeling Park before reeling off 16-consecutive victories.
You can bet a large contingent of Warren fans will make the trek to Athens Saturday night, turning the usually green facility into a sea of blue with high hopes of bringing yet another banner back to hang on the walls of the Warrior Coliseum.
Mike Morrison is a part-time Marietta Times sports writer.