Prep boys basketball: Warren drills Logan

LOGAN – Some self-appointed basketball experts – and a lot of them make their way into Jim Myers Gymnasium these days – think you have to play zone defense to beat the Warren Warriors.

Others think you have to come out and guard them man-to-man. Still others swear that you have to play them full-court.

But let’s face it: that’s a dilemma that keeps high school coaches awake nights. Many have tried to figure it out, and very few have been successful. You basically have to pick your poison when game night rolls around.

When you play the 2013-14 Warriors, you’re, uh, darned if you do and, uh, darned if you don’t because they can – and will – beat you in a number of ways.

Friday night, with a pretty good Senior Night crowd braving the snowy elements, the Warriors buried the Logan Chieftains under a barrage of three-pointers, making 13-of-24 shots from beyond the arc in a 72-42 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League rout of the Purple & White in Jim’s Gym.

While the Warriors (18-3 overall, 7-1 SEOAL) have bigger fish to fry next week when the post-season Division II tournament gets under way – they and the Athens Bulldogs are both a first-round win away from colliding in an epic sectional final next Friday night in Jim’s Gym – this snowy Friday was about celebrating no worse than a tie for the conference championship.

If Portsmouth defeats Gallipolis in a league makeup game tonight, the Warriors and Trojans will share the league title. Should Gallia Academy upset Portsmouth, however, Warren will win it outright for a second-straight season.

“That’s always Plan A (winning the SEOAL title), and we wanted to make sure we came in here and got this game,” said Warren coach and Logan High School graduate Blane Maddox. “We’ve only had back-to-back (league) championships one other time, so we really wanted that.

“A lot of our guys can shoot the ball,” he added. “A lot of teams have played us man and we’ve executed well, and tonight coach Helber decided to go zone on us and we drained a lot of threes. We have a lot of weapons. We had six different guys make threes tonight, and that really spreads the floor.”

Logan coach John Helber picked his poison Friday night… and, although the Logan guards did their best to get out on Warren’s tall shooters, there’s a huge difference between the Chiefs’ 5-foot-7, 5-8 and 5-9 guards in comparison to Warren’s Evan French (6-4), Reece Patton (6-3) and Michael Hall (6-6).

“If you go man on them they’re going to post you up, and we don’t have the size,” said Helber. “If you go zone, you have to hope they miss some shots. That’s what we had to do. They have a three-headed monster (French, Patton and Hall), and I’m glad two of them (French and Patton) graduate.

“Nick (Kost) does the best he can on (French) and he said ‘coach, I think I might have reached up and touched him on the chin on his jump shot,’ ” Helber added. “What do you do?”

You simply hope that you play one of your best games and hope the Warriors struggle from the field like they did in a 60-48 win Wednesday night at New Lexington.

Alas, Friday night the Warriors shot 54 percent (27-of-50) from the field overall – and 54.3 percent from beyond the arc – while Logan went just 7-of-26 from the field in the first half and fell behind by 19 points.

The Chiefs (7-11 overall, 4-4 SEOAL) never really threatened. Logan led 4-3 early before the Warriors needed just 2:35 of game time to go on an 11-0 run, during which French (17 points, six rebounds) and Andrew Drayer (10 points) both tripled and Patton (15 points) just missed getting credit for a trey out the left corner because he had a toe on the three-point line.

Warren led 16-7 after one quarter and used a late 11-2 surge, with Blake Kidder (nine points) nailing a pair of triples and Drayer draining another, to lift Warren into a 35-16 halftime lead.

It was basically game over at that point… and Hall added a third-quarter exclamation point when he went back-door behind the Logan defense and slammed home a long-range alley-oop pass from Kidder.

When the Warriors weren’t hitting from long range – at one point late in the game, when they took a 68-39 lead, the Warriors’ 13 three-pointers equaled Logan’s entire team total – they drove the lane, scored from underneath, and /or scored off transition.

“We knew they would put a lot of pressure on us so we knew we had to play inside-outside on them,” Maddox said. “When we shoot 50 percent (from the field) we’re a darn-good team, and there are times when we shoot 30 (percent).”

Well, they were sure a darn-good team Friday night.

“We shot bad at New Lex,” Maddox said, “but it all came back tonight.”

“I would have been happy with a 16-6 game at halftime,” said Helber. “Our plan was to slow it down and spread it out, but then we got away from what we were doing and shot the ball too quick. Unless you’re going directly to the bucket, you can’t drive, jump-stop and try to stop and pump-fake (the Warriors) because they’re just so doggone big. With their arm length, they’re going to swat everything.

“We just don’t have the size to compete against that kind of size,” he added. “Our kids fought and fought and fought. But as (Logan assistant coach) Gregg (Landis) says, ‘we are what we are.’ I watched them break (full-court) pressure against Portsmouth, so you can’t press them.”

Pressing the Warriors is another area where it’s darn difficult to beat them.

“They’re so well-coached and they play well together,” Helber praised. “They are just a good basketball team. That’s why they made the state (tournament) last year; they’re a good, solid basketball team, and they’re just as good this year.”

Logan’s 6-8 junior center, Kevin Fisher, led the Chiefs with 13 points.

It was the final home game for seniors Kost, Joey Cottrill, Evan DeLong, Caleb Cummings, Brandon Bush, Tyler Bell and Gabe Smith, and five of them were on the floor at the final buzzer.

The Warriors came to Logan and got “exactly what we wanted,” Maddox said. “Winning a league championship means a lot. We’ve had a lot of situations where we had chances to win league (titles) and finished second, so it feels good to be first.

“We were expected to be first (outright), but it’s nice to get a share of it,” he added. “Portsmouth got us early in the season at our place. Too bad we can’t play them a third time, but we’re happy with (at least a share of) the championship.

“Now we have to be real good,” he added, “because everyone knows what’s coming down the road.”

What’s down the road is the aforementioned Division II tourney. The Warriors play Meigs in an opening-round game Tuesday night at LHS, and if they win – and if Athens defeats Marietta later that evening – you can expect Jim’s Gym to be filled to the rafters next Friday night. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have more than a week to prepare for their opening game in the Central District Division I tournament.

Logan will likely play at Gahanna, the Central District’s No. 2 seed, on Feb. 25. Gahanna, which upset Pickerington Central 73-72 last night, hosts No. 42 seed Dublin Scioto next Friday.

“We’ll probably face a Gahanna team that’s a lot like these guys,” Helber said. “They have three outstanding players and good guards and you have to hope they miss some shots.

“(Warren) went into a funk at New Lex when they couldn’t score, and that’s what we had to hope for tonight,” he continued. “Something (like that) has to happen. You have to play perfect against Warren and hope they don’t play as well and miss some shots.

“That’s kind of how it’s going to be against Gahanna if we play them, and you have the factor that Gahanna is a little bit taller and just a little bit quicker.”

Meaning the Chiefs will, once again, have to pick their poison.