Prep boys basketball: Warren boys in sectional final Saturday

Warren’s coaching staff was in attendance when New Lexington rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Marietta High, 46-44, in an Ohio Division II sectional semifinal boys’ basketball game at Logan Tuesday night.

The Blane Maddox-coached Warriors were on a scouting mission, of course, and no doubt were impressed with the Panthers’ comeback triumph.

Now, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Warren is scheduled to square off against New Lex (9-14) in a sectional championship tilt at Logan. The SEOAL champion Warriors, No. 9-ranked with a 21-1 overall record and a 16-game winning streak, will be the favorite to advance in tourney play, but it’s the postseason, and the Panthers already have one playoff win to their credit.

Warren has not played since beating visiting Portsmouth, 58-47, in an SEOAL game on Feb. 16. The Warriors’ lone setback this season was to Upper Arlington at Marietta College in December, 2012.

During regular-season action, Warren and New Lexington faced each other in a non-conference game in Vincent on Jan. 29. The royal blue and white cagers won 64-47, thanks in part to a 17-1 run at the start.

The Panthers did come back to reduce the deficit to 21-17, but that’s as close as they would get.

“New Lex kept playing hard,” said Maddox after the contest. “They made a couple runs at us, but we found a way to get that lead back up there.”

Michael Hall paced Warren with a game-high 17 points and eight caroms. Reece Patton added 14 markers and eight rebounds, Evan French netted 11 points, and Dylan Leffingwell had 10.

Evan Yabs finished with a game-high five steals and three assists.

New Lex was led by Collin Russell and non-starter Tyler Jones, who had 10 points apiece. Ethan Kunkler, the team’s leading scorer on the season, netted nine.

The Panthers’ other starters will probably be Nick Saxton, Tommy Russell, and Alex Bryant.

Against Marietta High, Collin Russell had 14 points; Jones, 12; and Kunkler, 10. Tommy Russell scored what turned out to be the game-winner.