Warren again: French, Hall spark Warriors to win over MHS

Mark Duckworth knows all about Evan French and Michael Hall.

The first-year Marietta head coach helped develop the two Warren players into standout performers during his time with the Warriors.

The same two players came back to haunt Duckworth and the Tigers Tuesday night as French and Hall combined for 48 points in a 66-45 Warren victory in front of a packed house at Sutton Gym.

French scored a game-high 27 while Hall added 21 to account for 72 percent of the Warriors’ offense.

“Evan French is very difficult to guard,” Duckworth said. “Michael Hall was big for them tonight. Michael’s a matchup problem. At 6-foot-6, he can play the point or he can put you on the block and score. Very nice players. Coach Blane Maddox does a tremendous job putting players in the right spots to be successful.”

Warren, which has proven in the past it is capable of lighting it up from beyond the arch, only attempted eight 3-pointers in the contest and made two, both by French. For the most part, the Warriors opted to do their damage from inside the 3-point line with Marietta’s defense playing tight around the perimeter.

“We felt like we just spread the floor in the second half,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox. “We attacked the rim a little bit to get to the foul line or get a layup.

“We can shoot 3s, but tonight we just felt like we needed to attack because you don’t get a lot of second shots (against Marietta).”

The Warriors went 21-for-46 (45.6 percent) from the floor while the Tigers were 17-for-44 (38.6 percent) overall and just 1-for-11 from 3.

For the second night in a row, foul shots played a pivotal role in Marietta’s demise. The Warriors connected on 22-of-26 foul shots while the Tigers were 10-for-15 at the line.

The Tigers finished a stretch of four games in five nights, going 1-3 in that span.

“There’s no one in the gym tonight that can say our kids didn’t battle,” Duckworth said. “Not the end result we wanted obviously, but my goodness, I can only ask so much out of these kids with four games in five nights.”

Hall scored Warren’s first six points to take a 6-2 lead, but baskets by Zach LaBarre and Jonathan Wood sandwiched a layup by Reece Patton to make the score 8-6. Warren then went on an 8-0 run, led by four points from French, to take a 16-6 lead. After Braden Riley and Blake Kidder traded buckets, LaBarre hit a pair of free throws to cut it to 18-10 to end the first period.

After French opened the second quarter with a trey, Riley made back-to-back field goals followed by two more freebies from LaBarre to cut Marietta’s deficit to 21-16. However, after Hall and LaBarre exchanged deuces, the Warriors scored nine unanswered points to pull ahead by 14, 32-18. French scored five during the 9-0 run.

Warren maintained its 14-point lead throughout the third quarter and extended it to 16, 52-36, midway though the fourth.

LaBarre scored six of his team-high 14 points in the final period to keep the Tigers in it before fouling out. Then, buckets by Riley and Corey Hill in a 30 second span cut Warren’s lead to 12, 54-42, with 2:45 left. Three straight points by Hall, though, stretched the margin back to 15 with under two minutes left to put the game out of reach for Marietta.

“We have tremendous respect for Blane Maddox and all the Warren kids,” Duckworth said. “They do things right with a tremendous amount of class.”

Maddox had equally kind words for the Duckworth and his squad.

“(Marietta) played hard,” Maddox said. “They rebound well. They can hang with anybody if they take care of the basketball.”

Riley (12) and Hill (10) joined LaBarre in double figures for Marietta. LaBarre and Riley also contributed nine and eight rebounds, respectively.

“Zach LaBarre, heart of a champion tonight,” Duckworth said. “Just a tremendous effort from Zach. Where he is today compared to where he started the season is just incredible.”

Warren had 25 rebounds in the contest while Marietta had 23. The Warriors committed just six turnovers in the contest while forcing MHS into 12 miscues.

Tuesday night’s crowd made for an exciting atmosphere, Duckworth said.

“I appreciate the great crowd tonight,” he said. “The band was great, the crowd was great. A real treat for the fans of Washington County.”

Warren (16-3) has two regular season games remaining. The Warriors travel to New Lexington tonight before going to Logan Friday night. A win at Logan would clinch the SEOAL championship outright.

The Tigers (9-11) travel to Zanesville Friday night before entering tournament play against Athens Feb. 18 at Logan High School. Marietta closes out its regular season schedule Feb. 22 at home against Frontier, a makeup for “Senior Night.”