Clay Miller leads Warriors past Marietta, 70-53

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Marietta High’s Jackson Graham (30) attempts a jumper as Warren’s Brandon Simoniette contests during a high school boys basketball game Tuesday in Vincent.

VINCENT — Clay Miller was nearly unstoppable around the basket Tuesday as the Warren senior scored 27 points en route to a 70-53 win over rival Marietta.

The Warriors (9-3) avenged an overtime loss to the Tigers (4-7) in the season opener. Miller’s 27, a career-high, led all scorers. He was 11 for 14 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds.

“These six seniors, it’s our last time playing Marietta,” said Miller. “It really means a lot to us.”

Warren led 28-26 at halftime before pulling away in the third quarter. Miller scored nine of his points in the third period as the Warriors took a 47-37 lead.

Their lead stretched to 16, 53-37, after Brandon Simoniette hit back-to-back baskets followed by a pair of free-throws from Noah Nichols to start the fourth. Marietta made a final run to get within nine, 53-44, with five minutes remaining, but a four-point play by Nichols halted the Tigers’ momentum.

Warren sank 12 of its 13 foul shots in the final quarter to ice the game.

“I thought both teams competed hard,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox. “A good Washington County game and we were fortunate to be at home tonight. We played smart in the second half. We’ve been improving our turnovers and just our efficiency. We’re shooting the free-throws well and we got them in foul trouble early in the second half. I thought that was a big difference.”

Austin Witucky led the Tigers with 18 points and six boards. Jackson Graham added 11 points while Derek Duckworth chipped in nine. Marietta never led in the game but was within striking distance up until midway through the third.

“We made a little run there in the last half of the fourth quarter to get close to single digits, but the Warren kids stepped up and made their foul shots,” said Marietta head coach J.D. Secrest.

“It just came down to a little stretch there in the third quarter where they got a couple of buckets and we didn’t score. That’s what it comes down to in games like this, stops and scores. We weren’t able to get it and they were.”

Miller was a force for Warren but it was far from a one-man effort.

Nichols scored 14 points, Austin Barta added 11 and Simoniette chipped in nine.

“It was a great team effort. Everybody stepped up,” said Miller, who had success “just cutting through the middle. When they got in that 1-3-1 (defense) I just found the open spots in the zone.”

Marietta committed 11 turnovers while Warren had just six. The Warriors also outshot the Tigers, sinking 48.9 percent (22 for 45) of their shots compared to 41.4 percent (17 for 41) for MHS.

“The Miller kid obviously hurt us a lot tonight,” Secrest said.

“They took advantage of some breakdowns we had. We had some looks we wanted to get that didn’t fall. They were able to get out and get some easy looks.”

Marietta and Warren both are back in action Friday. The Tigers play host to Meadowbrook while the Warriors visit Parkersburg South.