A trip to the Ohio University Convocation Center is always eventful for prep basketball teams.
Well, almost always.
Last year at about this time at the Convo, Warren's boys' basketball team was ousted from tournament play by the Fairland Dragons 59-50 in an Ohio Division II district semifinal.
Photo courtesy of Robin Pannell
Surrounded by four New Lexington defenders, Warren’s Dylan Leffingwell (00) goes up for any easy two in a sectional championship game at Logan last Saturday night. The Warriors won 70-47 and will now face Unioto in a district semi at the OU Convo Friday night.
At 6:15 p.m. Friday, the Blane Maddox-coached Warriors, who are currently No. 9 ranked statewide with a 22-1 overall record and the owner of a 17-game winning streak, are hoping for a much better outing when they play the Matt Hoops-coached and No. 4-seeded Unioto Shermans in an elimination game.
Warren sharpshooter Evan French is also seeking to make amends at the Convo as he went scoreless in the 2012 playoff game against the Dragons.
French not scoring a single point? That's hard to believe. But part of the problem was that he picked up his third personal foul in the second quarter.
All that of course is history, now, as French and his Warrior teammates have been focused only on Unioto this week.
"We've got to go take care of business on the Convo floor," said Maddox after top-seeded Warren routed No. 8-seeded New Lexington 70-47 in a sectional championship game at Jim Myers Gymnasium in Logan last Saturday. "Going up against a very big, very strong Unioto team. They're playing very well right now."
Unioto (15-8) advanced to the Convo by virtue of its 51-36 triumph over the McClain Tigers in a sectional final at Southeastern last Friday. The victory was sweet and a long time coming, because the Shermans hadn't claimed a sectional crown since 2001.
Chase Detillion led the way with a game-high 24 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Strange and Bryce Arledge are a couple of three-point shooters, who the Warriors will need to keep an eye on.
Some other Sherman starters could be Dylan Minney, Zach Downs and Nick Corcoran.
Unioto, third in the SVC behind Piketon and Zane Trace, isn't particularly big, but rebounds well, and can operate in transition.
Warren never trailed New Lex, and featured four cagers in double figures. French paced the offense with a game-high 22 points, including six triples. Reece Patton added 17, Michael Hall netted 13, and Dylan Leffingwell had 10.
Look for point Evan Yabs to be the other Warrior starter, and Adam Lang and Danny Pannell to see significant playing time.
The Warren-Unioto winner is slated to return to the Convo for an 8:15 p.m. tip-off on March 7.
Warren has only one blemish on its record, and that occurred seemingly forever ago on Dec. 29, 2012 when it dropped a 69-47 decision to Upper Arlington in the Ohio River Classic at Marietta College's Ban Johnson Arena.
"We played a quality team that was coming off a tough loss (to St. Clairsville)," said Maddox after the setback to Upper Arlington. "We didn't come out and play the way we have to play against a team that you would play in a regional.
"We've got to get 24 points better by March, and we've got two months to do it. Hopefully in March, looking back we can talk about how this game prepared us to play great in March."
Well, March is finally here, and Warren hasn't lost since the UA game. Needless to say, though, the Warriors are expecting a hard-fought battle against the Shermans on the Convo hardwood.