Warren East pulls out 56-51 win over South Warren
Warren East and South Warren both knew what to expect from each other in their second meeting of the regular-season on Tuesday night at Warren East High School.
As the two sides played a double overtime game back on Dec. 8 at South Warren High School – a 74-68 Warren East win – the District 14 foes were prepared for another dog fight this time around.
And that’s exactly what it played out to be.
In a back-and-forth, grinded-out type of high school basketball game, Warren East was able to hit clutch free throws late and earn a hard fought 56-51 victory to claim the season sweep against South Warren.
“It’s your typical District 14 game,” Warren East coach Brandon Combs said. “The first half was, I guess the best thing I can say, is ‘bizarre,’ because we both felt each other out. It was a game of runs. I thought offensively Tashawn Neal kept us in the game and kept us within striking distance whenever they’d make a run.
“Brevon Whitney was big for us down the stretch making free throws. I mean, he scores six points in the fourth quarter, which is huge for us.”
Neal finished with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Raiders (14-10 overall, 3-4 District 14), while Whitney scored 17 points. Thomas Maxey added nine.
After a sluggish opening quarter, South Warren held a tight 11-10 lead.
The offenses picked up in the ensuing period, but it still wasn’t pretty.
“The past few games we’ve been off and haven’t been hitting anything,” Neal said. “In the first half, we started driving and getting fouled and getting to the free-throw line, and then we came through and started making shots the second half.”
Bryson Wallace’s rebound and put-back layup put Warren East in front at 12-11, but the Spartans responded and retook a lead of 15-12 at the 5:39 mark of the second. The Raiders soon after went on a 6-0 run – highlighted by a Whitney and-one – to go up 19-15.
Whitney followed up with a pull-up jumper, and Neal recorded an and-one to push Warren East’s advantage to 26-19 with just over a minute remaining in the first half. However, South Warren closed the quarter on a 9-1 run to take a 28-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We missed two layups late that really hurt us bad, but you know, I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about the defensive end we can’t get a rebound,” South Warren coach Nelson Cundiff said. “I am very disappointed that we couldn’t rebound the basketball. We had a game plan, and hats off to East and Coach Combs.”
Tyler Martin had 14 points at the break to lead South Warren, while Neal was up to 12.
Martin finished with 21 points to carry the Spartans (12-13, 1-7), and Gavin Spurrier recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The two sides continued to exchange baskets throughout the second half.
“We talked at halftime for the kids to continue to keep their heads up and take the shots,” Combs said.
Leading 32-30, Eddie Bahic drove inside and scored to put the Spartans up four near the four-minute mark of the third quarter. An and-one by Martin later pushed South Warren’s lead to 39-33 with 2:38 remaining in the period.
Neal scored on back-to-back possessions to cut Warren East’s deficit to two, but Spurrier’s layup just before the buzzer put South Warren up 43-39 entering the fourth.
Jonathan Minton’s three with just over seven minutes remaining helped the Raiders even the scoreboard at 44-44. Whitney followed with a jumper to make it 46-44 at the 6:01 mark, but just before Spurrier grabbed a rebound and put it back up to tie it at 46-all.
“It felt great,” Minton, who just recently returned from a broken foot, said of being able to help his team out tonight. “The last couple games I haven’t got that many minutes, but I knew my time was coming. I’ve had some hard times, but I just fought through it and kept going.”
Austin Howard’s layup with less than two minutes left once again knotted it – this time at 48-all – but Whitney’s 17th point of the contest gave Warren East a 50-48 lead. Thomas Maxey’s free throws with 19.2 seconds left to tick sealed the victory for the Raiders.
“We did what we needed to do tonight,” said Combs. “You have to worry about your team, especially this time of the year. It’s good to get a District 14 win – and it’s great to get one late in the game, especially.”