Cruise Control: 14-1 Warren boys defeat New Lexington, 64-47

VINCENT – Any thoughts that Warren would be rusty after a week off were quickly dismissed when the Warriors jumped out to a 17-1 lead against New Lexington Tuesday night at Warrior Coliseum en route to claiming a 64-47 victory.

The win was the ninth straight for the royal blue and white, who are 14-1 on the season.

The Panthers would rally back, getting as close as 21-17, before the Warriors pulled away for good.

“New Lex kept playing hard,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox. “They made a couple runs at as, but we found a way to get that lead back up there.”

It was the first game Warren has played since a 55-52 victory over Newark Catholic on Jan. 21. The Warriors were scheduled to play Friday against Portsmouth, but the game was canceled due to snow, giving them a week stretch with no games.

“It was real nice to get out finally,” said Warren junior Reece Patton. “We hadn’t played a home game in awhile. I think everybody was excited. The energy was really good.”

Patton’s 14 points was part of a well-balanced offensive attack for the Warriors that also included Michael Hall’s game-high 17 points and Evan French’s 11. Dylan Leffingwell also posted double-digit points with 10. Evan Yabs had a game-high five steals to go along with three assists, while Hall and Patton each had a game-high eight rebounds.

“We love when those three (Hall, Patton and French) get into double figures,” Maddox said. “I thought Evan Yabs did a great job at the point, coming up with big steals and finding guys in transition. And like always, Dylan (Leffingwell) gives us something down low when we’re struggling and gives us some confidence.”

The Warriors, who have been a deadly 3-point shooting all year, did most of their damage inside the arch against the Panthers. Warren made 24-of-35 (69 percent) 2-point field goals in the game.

On the flip side, New Lex could get almost nothing going inside the 3-point line, especially in the first half. The Panthers hit just one 2-point basket in the first two quarters and just six in the game. They did, however, hit 8-of-20 (40 percent) 3-point buckets which is where the majority of their offense came from.

“They were 50 percent in the first half from the 3-point line,” Maddox said, “so we decided to go man-to-man to try to take that 3 away from them.”

Hall scored six, Patton had five and Leffingwell added four to pace the Warriors 17-1 run in the first quarter. Tyler Jones and Colin Russell each hit 3-pointers to bring the Panthers back and make it 17-10 going into the second quarter.

After Hall made a putback layup to open the second, Jones hit a free throw followed by another 3-pointer from Russell to cut it 19-14. After a basket by Patton, Jones hit a trey to get to within four but the Warriors would let the Panthers get no closer the rest of the way. Danny Pannell came off the bench to score six points in the quarter to help build the Warrior lead back up to 34-22 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Leffingwell scored six straight points to make it 40-24. French and Andrew Drayer would each hit 3s in the fourth to put on the finishing touches.

Overall, Patton was pleased with the effort of his team.

“As long as we get the win, that’s all that matters,” Patton said. “Everybody played their part. Everybody stepped up and did their job. That’s really all we can worry about.”

New Lexington was led by Jones and Russell, who each had 10 points. The Panthers fell to 6-11 with the loss.

Warren is back in action Friday on the road against Logan.