WARREN CENTRAL WAITS ON BGHS-GREENWOOD SURVIVOR
Warren Central High School’s inside track to the KHSAA’s Third Region served its purpose.
Now the Dragons have punched their ticket to next week’s regional tournament at E.A. Diddle Arena, after an overwhelming third quarter as Warren Central stormed to a 71-49 victory over visiting Warren East on Tuesday night.
Warren Central, the No. 1 seed in the KHSAA’s 14th District tournament, turned up the defensive pressure over the final 16 minutes, suffocating the Raiders on its way to Friday’s championship game against either Bowling Green or Greenwood.
Junior forward Chappelle Whitney scored a team-high 20 points and Warren Central teammate Damarion Walkup added 15 as the Dragons improved to 22-3 overall. They’ll get a shot to watch Wednesday night’s semifinal between Greenwood and Bowling Green before playing for the district title on Friday at 6 p.m.
“We had a great second half, really guarded well,” Warren Central coach Will Unseld said. “We drove the ball at them, got into the paint. We were 0 for 9 from 3-point range in the first half, and some of those were real clunkers … We locked ’em down in the third quarter, defensively.”
Warren East, which outlasted South Warren 70-62 on Monday night, finished its season with an 11-17 record under first-year coach Kyle Benge. The Raiders trimmed the deficit to four points late in the first half, but they stumbled when returning to the court for the final 16 minutes.
“That’s what they’re good at. You make a mistake, and (Warren Central) can score 10 points in a hurry,” Warren East guard Kaleb Matlock said. “It’ll flash before your eyes.”
The Dragons did show some flash, but more important, at least in Unseld’s eyes, some tenacity. Warren Central’s Omari Glover brought the crowd to its feet with a resounding dunk late in the third quarter, and Whitney continued to riddle the Raiders with a strong offensive game near the basket.
“We started playing together, in the third quarter,” Whitney said. “(Warren East) had no pressure on them. You start over when you get to the postseason. I wasn’t going to force anything, just play through the offense. “
Whitney took good shots and helped the Dragons turn back anything resembling a Warren East run in the second half.
“Chappelle can really score. He’s got an unbelievable touch around the rim,” Unseld said.
Warren Central’s Jaiden Lawrence and Glover each had 12 points for the Dragons, who have won 10 straight games. The Dragons’ last loss was a double-overtime defeat, a 66-64 road loss to Greenwood.
Greenwood (23-5) and Bowling Green (24-4) will play in an anticipated semifinal on Wednesday night, a knockout game for two of the strongest teams in the state. Matlock predicted future success for his Warren East teammates when they move to the KHSAA’s 15th District. The Raiders haven’t reached the regional tournament since 1997.
“This has to be the toughest district in the state,” Matlock said.
Lawrence admitted the Dragons might have been overconfident for Tuesday night’s game, after twice rolling to onesided victories over the Raiders in regular-season play.
“Being the fifth-ranked team in the state, the games we’d had earlier, none of that matters now,” Lawrence said.
Junior forward Isaiah Andrews led the Raiders with 21 points, while Matlock and East guard Connor Doyle added 9 and 8, respectively.
“We threw everything at them, defensively, that we could tonight,” Andrews said. “They just did a real good job of adjusting to that. We got gassed a little bit in the second half.”
BOWLING GREEN GIRLS 53, WARREN CENTRAL 21
Bowling Green never let the Lady Dragons have a chance, limiting Warren Central to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters.
The Lady Purples improved to 24-7 and they’ll play in the championship game at 6 p.m. Thursday. Their opponent will be decided tonight, when Greenwood (17-12) and South Warren (10-18) tangle in semifinal play at 5:30 p.m.
Junior point guard Saniyah Shelton slashed her way to a game-high 17 points, keeping the Lady Purples on the attack. Tanaya Bailey had 12 points for BGHS, while teammates LynKaylah James and Meadow Tisdale added 9 and 8, respectively.
Senior guard Kaylyn Keener led Warren Central with 12 points.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter,” BGHS coach Calvin Head said. “Defensively, we were OK. I thought we got a little disengaged in the second half. Our job was to win tonight and get to the regional tournament. Play for a championship on Thursday.