Balanced effort lifts Dragons to non-region win over St. Marys

Warren’s Seth Baldensperger (3) shoots a three-pointer during his team’s 68-59 win over St. Marys on Friday.

Returning only one varsity letterman from last year’s team, Warren’s younger players needed to adapt quickly in the face of a tough stretch of December games.

Friday’s game was a big step in the right direction, as the Dragons evened their season record with a 68-59 win over St. Marys in non-region action at Warren Area High School. All five Warren starters — three of which were sophomores — scored in double figures led by senior Seth Baldensperger’s 16 points.

“Our non-region December schedule is tough,” said Warren coach Jeff Berdine. “It’s set up to prepare us for region play. I’ve told the kids we’re going to use the games in December to see who’s going to be on the floor when we need those big minutes later in the year.”

After a steal and a layup gave St. Marys the game’s first score, the Dragons rattled off a 10-1 run and forced the Dutch to burn a timeout. St. Marys battled back and briefly took the lead on a Jeff Wehler three-pointer before back-to-back buckets by Noah Becker and Griffin Suppa gave Warren a one-point advantage after the first quarter.

The two teams continued to go back and forth early in the second before another run allowed the Dragons to open up the game little by little. Still, it was Wehler who kept St. Marys within striking distance at the half despite Warren piling up points on second and third opportunities under the basket.

Warren began to pull ahead in the third with sophomore Caleb Ei doing the most damage with seven points.

“I put Caleb into the starting lineup to try to get us more energy early, and I think he did that,” Berdine said. “I was very happy with the way we played tonight. I thought we moved the ball well and defensively we were much better.”

The Dragons went to the line 16 times in the fourth quarter and converted 10 foul shots to keep a comfortable lead as the clock ticked down. Ei followed Baldensperger on the scoresheet with 14 points and Suppa added 12 while Becker and Jake Kupchella chipped in 11 each. Warren knocked down seven three-pointers, four of which came from Baldensperger.

Becker also finished with 11 rebounds to complete the double-double along with two blocked shots. Ei had six rebounds, and Kupchella and Suppa both finished the game with five boards and five assists.

Wehler led the Dutch with 22 points, but was held to just one bucket in the second half.

With the win, Warren improves to 2-2 on the year.

“I told the kids in the locker room after the McDowell game you can’t let your guard down, you’ve got to play all 32,” Berdine said in reference to his team’s 64-40 loss to the Trojans on Tuesday. “Today I thought we were ready when the game started and we got out there and competed. We want to take a step forward every time. When we lose, we want to use that loss to figure out what we have to do better.”

“One of the keys to this game was when they went 1-3-1 (zone defense) in the second quarter. That’s something we haven’t seen yet, but we adjusted well and the kids got in the right spots without us having to take a timeout. We made a couple shots, made the plays we needed to make and didn’t let it bother us.”

The Dragons will face their biggest test of the young season when Meadville makes the trip to Warren on Wednesday. The Bulldogs feature one of District 10’s best backcourts with Armoni Foster and Simeal Wofford.

In JV action, Warren used a big second half to beat St. Marys by a final score of 41-37. Andrew Davidson led the way with 10 points.

ST. MARYS (59): Cortina 2 0-0 4, Goodrow 0 0-0 0, Lindemuth 1 0-0 2, Schneider 6 5-9 19, Robinson 0 0-0 0, Wehler 8 3-7 22, Barackman 0 0-0 0, Marconi 4 2-2 12, Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 10-18 59.

WARREN (68): Gillotti 0 0-1 0, Baldensperger 5 2-2 16, Kupchella 3 4-4 11, Blair 1 0-2 2, Morrison 1 0-0 2, Davidson 0 0-0 0, Becker 5 1-1 11, Ei 6 1-2 14, Suppa 4 3-8 12. Totals 25 11-20 68.

St. Marys       18   12   10   19 — 59

Warren       19   16   17   16  — 68

3-pointers: Schneider (S) 2, Wehler (S) 3, Marconi (S) 2, Baldensperger (W) 4, Kupchella (W) 1, Ei (W) 1, Suppa (W) 1.

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Junior Varsity

ST. MARYS (37): Goodrow 4 4-5 13, Caretti 0 0-2 0, Barackman 3 0-0 6, Cortina 7 2-2 16, Price 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 6-9 37.

WARREN (41): Nosel 2 0-2 5, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Bryant 2 2-2 6, McMeans 1 3-6 5, Morrison 2 1-2 7, Davidson 3 2-4 10, Fitzgerald 3 0-1 6. Totals 14 8-17 41.

St. Marys       13   10   4   10 — 37

Warren       5   5   17   14 — 41

3-pointers: Goodrow (S), Nosel (W) 1, Morrison (W) 2, Davidson (W) 2.

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