26th win puts Warren in state tournament
ATHENS, Ohio – Evan Yabs scored just two points in Saturday afternoon’s regional championship game against New Philadelphia, but they may well have been the biggest two points in the history of the Warren Warriors.
Yabs grabbed the rebound of a Dylan Leffingwell last-second shot and put it back up and in as time expired to give the Warriors a 49-47 victory versus the Quakers to punch their ticket to their very first appearance in the Ohio Division II state tournament.
With the score tied at 47 with 10 seconds to play, Leffingwell drove strong to the bucket and his left-handed layup was just a bit too strong.
The 5-foot-9 Yabs, the smallest player on the court at the end of the game, was in the right place at the right time as he grabbed the rebound and in one motion put back up the game-winning shot as his Warrior teammates flooded the court.
“In the huddle, we drew up a play for (Evan) French to get some isolation, but there was some serious ball pressure, so Dylan (Leffingwell) took it to the hoop strong,” said Yabs of the game-winning scenario. “It went off the rim and I was just trying to get follow. I wasn’t sure if time was going to expire, but I am glad that it didn’t.”
The final play didn’t quite go the way Warren head coach Blane Maddox drew it up, but it worked to perfection nonetheless.
“It was supposed to be a side out and it never developed, so we just scrambled,” said Maddox.
Early on, it appeared the Warriors would not be in need of any last-second heroics as Warren jumped out to a 27-14 halftime lead, largely due to the red-hot shooting of French.
The junior sharpshooter, who poured in 27 points in the final 12 minutes of action in Thursday evening’s overtime win against Athens, connected on five triples in the opening half en route to a 21-point effort.
Warren continued to pull away early in the second half as French scored the first six Warrior points to increase the margin to a game-high 16 points at 33-17.
The Quakers had no plans of going away easy, though, and it would be big 6-foot-6 junior Ethan Boose, who led the way.
In a stretch of two minutes, Boose scored six points in a row, all coming off offensive rebounds, to cut the lead to 33-25 with 2:33 to play in the third quarter.
Reece Patton connected on a pair of free throws for Warren, but New Philly closed out the third period with a 6-2 spurt to trim the once-large Warren lead to just six at 37-31.
Marc Colombo and Boose executed a perfect high-low move to open the final period, but Patton answered with a jumper to keep the lead at six with just over six minutes to go.
Boose, who pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, scored once again on a putback, but Patton came through in the clutch to make it a 41-35 game.
The Quakers cut the lead to a pair at 47-45 on a perfectly-executed inbound play from Caleb Beans to Boose, and came all the way back to tie it up on a 15-footer by Colombo with 15 seconds to play to set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Boose led all scores with 27 points, hitting 12 of 16 shots, while Colombo added 15 for the Quakers (19-8).
Warren (26-1) now plays at 5 p.m. Thursday in the state semifinals at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus against St. Vincent-St. Marys.