Dragons fight past Oil City in key Region 6 battle

Warren’s Mitch Grosch drives on Oil City’s Holden Stahl during the first half of their Region 6 battle Tuesday at Joseph A. Massa Gymnasium. The Dragons battled for a 54-39 victory.

One only need look at Aidan Morrison’s broken nose to know just how hard the Warren Dragons worked for their 54-39 win over Oil City on Tuesday.

That’s just the way it’s going to be in Region 6 this season.

Caleb Ei scored 21 points, Jake Kupchella 17 and the Dragons walked off the court Tuesday in sole possession of first place.

It wasn’t pretty, but they will most definitely take it.

“I told the kids these are huge games. The games we’ve played so far in our region … they’re contenders just like us,” said Warren coach Jeff Berdine. “We have to keep scratching and clawing and we did that tonight. We played tough tonight. I’m proud of the kids.”

Warren’s Jake Kupchella drives through a pair of Oil City defenders towars the basket. Kupchella scored 17 points in the win.

Morrison, attempting to take a charge early in the fourth quarter, fell violently to the floor, leaving behind a trail of blood. And while he didn’t return to game action, the Dragons (5-4 overall, 3-1 Region 6), who led by 10 at that point, took care of business down the stretch, going on an

11-3 run to seal the deal.

“I thought defensively tonight we did a good job,” Berdine said. “When Aidan went down I thought the kids really rallied and played well. Tom (Bablak), Ben (Berdine) went in there and battled. They’re learning on the fly. Same with Mitchell (Grosch).”

It was all Ei on the offensive end early in the game, as he got red-hot, scoring 16 of his 21 in the first half.

A 3 by Morrison and a strong drive by Ei gave the Dragons an early 15-7 lead late in the first quarter.

“It’s almost mindless,” said Ei about getting in a groove offensively. “You just keep going and you don’t even realize you’re doing it.”

Caleb Ei goes up for 2 of his game-high 21 points.

Ei has also developed his 3-point shot, evidenced by hitting back-to-back triples in the second quarter that made it 28-18.

“This is the first year that I’ve really opened up my range from outside the paint,” Ei said. “He (coach Berdine) has been motivating me to do that.”

It was a strong half on the offensive end for Warren, capped by a drive by Kupchella with four seconds to go.

“Caleb had a huge first half for us,” Berdine said. “We had a run there in the second quarter. Grif (Suppa) got guys on the dribble penetration and found Caleb in the corner. Those were huge shots. That gave us an advantage and we basically didn’t have any turnovers in the second quarter.”

Oil City never seriously threatened in the second half, and a 3 by Suppa off an offensive rebound from Bablak gave them their biggest lead of the game, 39-25, with two minutes to go in the third.

The Flannel Panel cheers the Dragons on to victory.

“That was a huge shot,” Berdine said. “That was part of our run; him and Jake really staved them off from getting back in the game.”

The Oilers (6-3, 2-1) normally strong offensive attack was shut down for most of the night.

“We just stayed motivated the whole time,” Ei said. “We faltered in some things, turnovers obviously with 15, but we didn’t let it get to us.”

Hunter Haun led OC with 10 points, while Luke Homer and Demarco Francis had 8 each.

The Dragons also won the battle of the boards, Suppa and Ei leading the way with 9 each, followed by Kupchella and Morrison with 6 and 5 respectively.

The Warren Area High School cheerleaders, who depart for states on Thursday, perform during Tuesday's game.

“I thought Kup bounced back and had a good game offensively,” Berdine said. “He looked to score the ball and finished better than he has the last couple games.”

Devin McMeans once again played fantastic defense, harassing Oil City’s guards all night.

“Dev’s always been a lunch pail kind of guy,” Berdine said. “He’s going to come to work every day and play good defense.”

With Harbor Creek’s 60-59 win over General McLane, the Dragons open a slim 1/2 game lead in region play. But it’s going to be a dog fight all season long.

The JV team was also a winner, 54-46. Nick Hussey led a balanced attack with 10 points.

The Dragons return to action Saturday, hosting DuBois.

– – –

OIL CITY (39)

Haun 4-1-2-10, Francis 2-4-6-8, Stahl 1-2-4-5, Homer 3-2-4-8, Law 2-0-2-4, Muir 1-2-4-4, McFall 0-0-0-0, L. Johnson 0-0-0-0, J. Johnson, Baker 0-0-0-0, Totals 13-11-22-39

WARREN (54)

Morrison 1-1-2-4, Kupchella 6-4-8-17, McMeans 1-0-0-2, Ei 9-1-3-21, Suppa 3-1-5-8, Grosch 0-0-0-0, Bablak 0-0-0-0, Berdine 1-0-0-2, Funari 0-0-0-0, Totals 21-7-18-54

By Quarters

Oil City 9 11 11 8 – 39

Warren 15 15 11 13 – 54

Three-point FGs: Oil City (2) Haun, Stahl; Warren (5) – Ei 2, Morrison, Kupchella, Suppa

– – –

JV

OIL CITY (46)

Cochran 3-1-2-7, Van Wormer 2-0-0-5, McFalle 5-0-0-14, J. Johnson 2-0-0-4, Hartle 2-1-2-5, Dickens 1-1-2-4, Flinchbaugh 0-0-2-0, Klapec 2-2-2-6, Williams 0-0-0-0, Totals 17-6-12-46

WARREN (54)

R. Arnold 3-0-0-7, Rafalski 2-2-2-6, Berdine 3-0-0-7, Bablak 2-1-1-5, B. Arnold 0-0-0-0, Gustafson 2-0-0-5, Hussey 4-0-1-10, Borger 1-0-0-2, Swanson 0-1-2-1, Barnes 2-2-2-7, Vazquez 0-1-3-1, Salapek 1-0-0-2, Totals 20-7-11-53

By Quarters

Oil City 6 12 6 22 – 46

Three-point FGs: Oil City (6) – McFall 4, Van Wormer, Dickens; Warren (6) – Hussey 2, R. Arnold, Berdine, Gustafson, Barnes

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