Dylan Leffingwell was really the only Warren player strong enough to match up against New Philadelphia's 6-foot-6 junior Ethan Boose.
And, even the 6-2, 215-pound senior Warrior was at a disadvantage height-wise.
"He (Boose) was a horse," said Leffingwell after Warren (26-1) defeated the Quakers, 49-47, in an Ohio Division II regional final at the Ohio University Convocation Center Saturday.
Leffingwell received a lot of help defense from his royal blue and white teammates whenever Boose touched the ball which more often than not was in the low blocks.
Late in the game, with the Warriors hanging on to a 47-43 lead, Warren's Evan French stripped Boose, who was about to go up for a sure layup, of the ball. In hindsight, it turned out to be one of the biggest steals of the contest.
"Hey, we got the job done," Leffingwell said. "It was a team effort.
"He (Boose) was really good, and I did my best to guard him - and he still scored."
Boose finished with a game-high double-double 27 points (19 in the second half) and 11 rebounds (8 after the break). But those stats could've been even higher, if he hadn't had to sit periodically because of four personal fouls.
"It was very physical in there," said Warren head coach Blane Maddox. "The kid (Boose) didn't leave that paint, but Dylan's strong."
Being a Warren football player and a quarterback to boot, Leffingwell thrived on the hoops contact.
"It did feel like a football game," said Leffingwell, laughing. "Instead of being the quarterback, I was the lineman today."
"Boose was very sportsman-like," he continued. "We both played hard. Both teams played really hard. It was a great game."
A great game that came down to a putback bucket at the buzzer.
Ironically, during the contest, Boose was killing Warren with that kind of basket. It was almost as if that was one of New Philly's plays - shoot and miss, and let Boose get the offensive rebound.
"We (Warren coaches) were just pulling our hair out," Maddox said.
Ah, but all's well that ends well.
Warren's 5-9 point Evan Yabs won the game with a stickback at the buzzer, but the hero could've easily been the right-handed shooting Leffingwell, who drove and attacked the basket - and just missed the left-handed layup with Boose one of the Quaker defenders on him.
"It almost went in," said Leffingwell of his shot. "But, hey, we got it in and that's all that matters."
Now, Leffingwell and his teammates are preparing for the program's first appearance in the Final 4 in Columbus. St. Vincent/St. Mary, Warren's semifinal opponent at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, also has size and length in the paint with at least three players 6-6 or taller.
Leffingwell and the royal blue and white cagers will not be intimidated. They're pumped and ready to get it on. "State, Schottenstein (Value City Arena), what's better than that?" Leffingwell said. "Nothing."
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at email@example.com