Kurt Taylor, Brayden Sallee lead Warriors past Athens, 70-48
VINCENT — Sure it was just one game out of 22 regular season games but if Tuesday night’s home opener was any kind of preview of things to come, the Warren Warriors have a chance to be a very good basketball team this season.
Warren showed off its talent and its depth as it rolled to a 70-48 win over the visiting Athens Bulldogs.
Senior Kurt Taylor and junior Brayden Sallee combined for 37 points and 10 different Warriors scored at least one point as the Warriors pulled out to a 17-point lead after one quarter of play and pulled away to their first win of the season.
“Everybody has put in a lot of practice so it was good to see everybody get to play a lot tonight,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox. “We are fortunate we have a lot of depth and we came out and set the tempo tonight like we wanted to do.”
Athens jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on a triple by by senior guard Jacob Sayers before the home team responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead for good.
An inside bucket from junior post Derrick Welsh cut the lead to four but back-to-back baskets by Sallee and the first of four 3-pointers in the game by Taylor increased the Warren lead to 16-5.
Warren senior Joel Chevalier increased the lead by two with a pair of free throws and after Welsh briefly halted the Warrior momentum with a basket off of an offensive rebound, a pair of inside baskets from Warrior senior post Jake Baumgard and a field goal by Sallee gave the Warriors a 24-7 lead after one quarter of play.
The Warriors continued to add to their lead in the second quarter when junior Dennis Pettey connected on a triple and Sallee and senior Seth Dennis followed with two-point goals to push the lead to 31-7.
Dennis made his return to the Warrior lineup after missing the entire season last year due to a serious back injury suffered in a car accident.
The Warren point guard made his presence felt in a big way as he scored eight points while dishing out six assists in resuming his role as floor general.
“It’s great to have him back out there and it makes a big difference,” said Maddox of Dennis. “It allows us to get everybody in their right spots. You always try to play to your strengths and we know what ours are.”
Warren took a commanding 43-16 lead into the locker room at halftime and increased that by two after out-pointing the Bulldogs 21-19 in the third quarter.
The huge lead allowed Maddox and his staff to get plenty of playing time for everyone as 11 different Warriors got into the game.
Taylor led the way with 19 points while connecting on four-of-five attempts from behind the arc while Sallee completed a double-double by scoring 18 points while hauling down a game-high 10 boards.
Maddox has high hopes for his junior forward.
“We had him with a double-double before the end of the first half,” said Maddox of Sallee, who totaled 15 points and 10 boards at the break. “He’s athletic and has size and he has Joel (Chevalier) and Jake (Baumgard) in their battling with him so we just need to keep everyone healthy.”
Baumgard joined Dennis with eight points while Chevalier chipped in with six for the winners.
Athens was led by Welsh with 11 points and eight rebounds while senior Albert Matters added 10.
The Bulldogs slipped to 1-2 with the loss while the (1-0) Warriors will be off until hosting Belpre next Tuesday.