Dragons grind out road win in Region 6 opener
CONNEAUT – It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but at the end of the day it was a road win to start Region 6 play for the Warren Dragons.
Seth Baldensperger and Braidy Blair scored 10 points each and Caleb Ei had four crucial points in the final minute to put away a 48-43 victory over Conneaut.
“It’s one of those games where it wasn’t pretty,” said Warren coach Jeff Berdine. “I told the kids this was the biggest December game they have – a region game on the road. We started well and were able to hold on late.”
With the game tied 9-9 at the end of the first quarter, the Dragons (3-3 overall, 1-0 Region 6) went on a 16-7 run to take a 9-point lead into halftime.
Blair scored six of his 10 points in the second and Jake Kupchella scored all five of his to lead the charge.
“That gave us a working lead at halftime,” noted Berdine.
Conneaut’s (1-4, 0-3) Erik Richardson kept his team in the game with a couple of big 3’s in the third, part of a game-high 16-point effort, but Warren was able to extend its lead to 11.
Berdine noted the solid play of his bench, particularly Blair, Aidan Morrison and Andrew Davidson.
“I thought we got good play off the bench from Braidy, Aidan and Andrew – they played well,” he said. “They were able to give us extended minutes.”
The Dragons went just 4-of-10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, allowing the Eagles to chip away at the lead, but Ei’s bucket off the press proved to be big. The sophomore got fouled, missed the free throw, but got fouled again and was able to sink both to put the game away.
“We kept them in the game from the free throw line, but made just enough plays against their press,” noted Berdine.
Noah Becker pulled down 14 rebounds, while Blair added five for the Dragons, who are a bit banged up and have several players who have dealt with the flu, but now have almost a week off before returning to action.
They will do so at St. Bonaventure University for the IAABO Tournament, where they will meet Olean at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday. The other game in the ‘large school’ division pits Bradford against Nichols (Buffalo).
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Nosel 0-0-0-0, Gilotti 0-1-2-1, Baldensperger 4-1-2-10, Kupchella 1-2-2-5, McMeans 0-0-0-0, Blair 4-2-2-10, Morrison 0-0-0-0, Davidson 1-0-0-3, Becker 2-0-0-4, Ei 3-2-3-8, Suppa 3-1-5-7, Totals 18-9-16-48
Niemann 1-0-0-2, Sheets 3-0-0-7, Sperry 4-2-5-10, E. Richardson 6-1-4-16, Mattera 1-3-4-5, Ray 0-3-4-3, Totals 15-9-17-43
Warren 9 16 11 12 – 48
Conneaut 9 7 9 18 – 43
Three-point FGs: Warren (3) – Baldensperger, Kupchella, Davidson; Conneaut (4) – Richardson 3, Sheets
Nosel 4-1-4-13, Johnson 3-0-1-7, McMeans 3-0-0-6, Davis 0-0-0-0, Morrison 3-0-0-6, Davidson 5-0-0-14, Funari 1-2-2-4, Fitzgearld 2-0-0-5, Totals 17-5-4-9-53
Niemann 2-0-0-6, N. Richardson 1-1-1-3, Rash 5-1-2-11, Askey 7-0-0-17, Andrew 3-0-0-6, Gabel 1-0-0-3, Totals 13-6-2-3-46