Warren boys try to make history today

VINCENT – Warren is on the verge of possibly making school history.

If the No. 9-ranked Warrior boys’ basketball team can defeat Vinton County in an Ohio Division II district championship game at 8:15 p.m. today at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens, it’ll be a tournament first for the program.

“That’s what they tell me,” said Warren head coach Blane Maddox, facetiously.

Never before in its history has a Warren boys’ cage squad ever advanced to the Sweet 16 or regional tournament. The Warriors have been a district semifinalist 14 times and a runner-up on four occasions in 2011, 2010, 2001 and 1998.

The royal blue and white is currently 4-14 in district competition. Last year, it dropped a 59-50 decision to Fairland in the semis.

Before last Friday night’s 50-39 come-from-behind triumph over Unioto, Warren’s last win at district was a 58-48 decision against Waverly in the 2011 semis.

Will this be the year that the top-seeded Warriors (23-1) break on through and claim a district crown?

Only the Matt Combs-coached Vikings of the Tri-Valley Conference stand in their way.

“Vinton County will compete,” Maddox said. “They’re very aggressive, and they play hard.”

Vinton County (19-4) got to the district final by beating second-seeded Fairland, 65-61 – also at the Convo last Friday night. The Vikings are one-up on the Warriors in district championships, winning one in 2008.

VC hasn’t competed in the district tourney since 2009.

Against Fairland, the Vikings were paced by 6-foot-2 senior Jordan Kidd, who tallied 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and had the same number of assists.

Alex Owings, a 5-10 junior, added 11 points, four dimes and four steals. Six-one senior L.B. Remy netted nine markers, collected seven caroms, and three steals while 5-11 senior Bryce Owings had eight points and five boards.

VC’s 5-10 senior Matt Smallwood is expected to be the fifth starter. Jordan Albright, a 6-foot maroon and white freshman, had a big fourth quarter with five consecutive points and a steal. He finished with 13 markers.

“They have a lot of nice players,” Maddox said. “And, they’re deep.

“They also like to switch a lot on defense.

“We’ll have a little size advantage on them, and hopefully we can take advantage of that. It’s going to be an interesting, tough game.”

Warren is expected to start 6-3 junior Evan French, 6-3 junior Reece Patton, 6-5 sophomore Michael Hall, 5-9 senior Evan Yabs, and 6-2 senior Dylan Leffingwell.

Look for 6-3 senior Adam Lang and 6-0 senior Danny Pannell to also see significant playing time.

Maddox only played seven Warriors against Unioto.

Against Unioto, French led the way with 19 points, and Leffingwell and Lang chipped in with 10 apiece. Patton netted eight.

“We’re going to need everybody to step up,” Maddox said.

Warren, a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) and sectional champion, currently owns an 18-game winning streak. The royal blue and white has not been defeated since dropping a 69-47 decision to Upper Arlington in the Ohio River Classic at Marietta College’s Ban Johnson Arena on Dec. 29, 2012.