RAIDERS ‘HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE’ AGAINST NO. 1 SEED WARREN CENTRAL ON TUESDAY NIGHT
Warren East teammates Kaleb Matlock and Isaiah Andrews were among the final players to file out of the Raiders’ locker room Monday night.
Matlock, a senior guard, scored a game-high 26 points and Andrews, a junior forward, added 17 as the Raiders squeezed past South Warren 70-62 in first-round play of the KHSAA 14th District Tournament at Warren Central High School.
Warren East improved to 11-16 under first-year coach Kyle Benge, and the Raiders will be playing with house money when they take aim at No. 1 seed Warren Central (21-3) in semifinal play at approximately 7 p.m. Tuesday night, also in the Dragons’ gymnasium.
South Warren finishes its season 14-16.
“We just needed to be as physical as we could, with (South Warren’s Ty) Price and (Brandon) Rowe,” Benge said. “Tray Price was on Ty for the majority of the night, and we played really tough, defensively. We tried to force them into taking the tough shots.”
Matlock, who had the hot hand from 3-point range in the second half, said the Raiders often turned to a “triangle-and-two” defensive approach, with Tray Price shadowing Ty Price, the Spartans’ leading scorer, and Andrews guarding Rowe closer to the basket.
“We just wanted to take Price and Rowe out, the best we could,” Matlock said. “Offensively, I just tried to get to the open spot on the floor, and my teammates were able to get me the ball. We handled their defensive pressure pretty well.
“We’ve worked really hard in practice, this last week or so.”
Matlock said the Raiders wanted to pressure the ballhandler on the perimeter, while stressing help defense near the basket. Ty Price, the Spartans’ 6-foot freshman point guard, averaged 17.4 points per game this season.
He had just 11 points in Monday night’s loss to the Raiders.
Junior guard Andrew Linhardt led South Warren with 13 points and senior forward Kyle Burton, a starting linebacker on the Spartans’ Class 5A state champion football team, finished with 11 points.
South Warren teammates Brandon Rowe and Andrew Goley both had 8 points.
“We lost this game on the defensive end,” Burton said. “We couldn’t get a stop to save our life … I think this team has a bright future.”
Benge and the Raiders now have the unenviable task of squaring off with the No. 1 seed Warren Central, on the Dragons’ home court.
Warren East twice played the Dragons within a three-day span, in early February, after the first matchup was postponed because of the KHSAA’s COVID-19 protocol, and neither game was competitive.
The Raiders will try to change that narrative on Tuesday night.
“Our last six or seven games, we’ve shot the ball very well,” Benge said. “We have nothing to lose (against Warren Central). When you’re the underdog, like us, you just want to disrupt them defensively, and work hard in the half court.”
Isaiah Andrews, the Raiders’ junior front-line player, put it another way.
“It’s not like a Game 7, or that kind of thing,” Andrews said. “It’s one game. Get out there and see what we can do.”
WARREN CENTRAL GIRLS 50, WARREN EAST 48 (TWO OT)
This first-round 14th District game had one momentum swing after another, with Warren Central sophomore forward Jaliyah Bailey scoring the winning points by following her own shot in the final six seconds of the second overtime.
Warren East couldn’t get off a decent shot before the horn sounded, but the Lady Raiders’ Reagan Lawson drilled a dramatic 3-pointer from the right wing, using the glass, to tie the game at 48 with 24 seconds left in the second OT.
Warren Central’s Jordyn Downey forced the first overtime with a deft 3-pointer from the right wing with about three seconds left in regulation.
Warren Central sophomore Briana Frausto hit two free throws in the final moments of the first overtime, tying the game at 42.
Downey scored a game-high 17 points and teammate Aida Akhmedova added 9. Frausto and Warren Central teammate Kaylyn Keeler had 6 points each for the Lady Dragons (4-21), who tangle with No. 1 seed Bowling Green High School (23-7) on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Freshman guard Sam Carver led the Lady Raiders (6-20) with 12 points, while teammate Natajia Alexander finished with 10.