Dragons humbled by Hornets in D-10 semis

Warren’s Thomas Bablak puts in a layup over Hickory’s Peyton Mele (15) during their District 10 Class 4A semifinal game at Oil City High School, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Bablak had 13 points, but the Hornets topped the Dragons, 78-35, to advance to the D-10 title game.

OIL CITY, Pa. – Heading into Tuesday’s District 10 Class 4A semifinal game, Warren’s boys basketball team knew it would have to bring its ‘A game’ to advance past Hickory.

For most of the first half, the Dragons hung with the Hornets, but a 6:07 scoring drought over the second and third quarters allowed Hickory to blow the game open and move on to the District 10 title game with a 78-35 win at Oil City High School.

“We knew we had to score consistently,” Warren coach Jeff Berdine said. “Once we were not making shots, we knew we were in trouble.”

Hickory (20-4), the No. 3 team in the state, led 15-9 after the first quarter. The Hornets stretched the lead to 12, 22-10, three minutes into the second, but the Dragons (15-9) started to rally. Thomas Bablak hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-2 run. Ben Berdine closed the run with 2:43 left in the half to cut the deficit to 24-19.

Warren wouldn’t score again until Bablak hit another three with 4:36 to play in the third.

Warren’s Ben Berdine (5) shoots over Hickory’s Jackson Pryts (30) during their District 10 Class 4A semifinal game at Oil City High School, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. The Hornets defeated the Dragons, 78-35, to advance to the district title game. The Dragons will play for a berth in the PIAA state playoffs in the third-place game Friday at a time and location to be determined.

“For a young athlete, once you realize you don’t have it (this game), it starts to weigh on you,” Berdine said. “You start pressing more.”

It wasn’t that Warren was consistently turning the ball over, or forcing bad shots. The Dragons got open looks at the basket in the second half, they just couldn’t get them to fall.

All told, Warren made just seven field goals in the second half.

Hickory, meanwhile, continued to score almost at will. It wasn’t all from their primary scorers, either.

Leading scorer Donald Whitehead had 11 points in the first half, but finished with just 13. Isaiah Jarzab knocked down some shots in limited minutes and tallied 10 points.

The second and third quarters belonged to Matthew Cannone. The junior poured in 15 of his game-high 23 points over those two frames.

“We wanted to make someone else beat us,” Berdine said. “(Cannone) killed us in those two quarters.”

Bablak led the Dragons with 13 points and three steals. Ben Berdine had nine points and six rebounds.

While Hickory will play Grove City for the D-10 title Friday, Warren still has plenty on the line in the third-place game.

The Dragons will face Harbor Creek Friday with the winner moving on to the PIAA state playoffs.

Warren and Harbor Creek split their two meetings during the regular season.

“It’s a familiar opponent and one we know well,” Berdine said. “We want to wash the taste out of our mouths from tonight’s game. We know we can compete with (Harbor Creek). We just need a better effort from the kids.”

The time and location of Friday’s games are to be determined.

– – –


Arnold 1-0-0-3, Rafalski 1-2-2-4, Berdine 4-1-2-9, Bablak 5-1-3-13, Gustafson 2-0-1-4, Swanson 1-0-0-2, Grosch 0-0-0-0, Blum 0-0-0-0, Blair 0-0-0-0, Barnes 0-0-0-0, Vazquez 0-0-0-0, Total 14-4-8-35


Phillips 1-3-6-5, Cannone 9-2-2-23, Whitehead 5-2-4-13, Hudson 1-0-0-2, Jarzab 4-0-0-10, P. Mele 2-4-4-9, Jarvie 2-1-3-5, Pryts 3-0-0-6, Evans 1-0-0-2, Boal 1-0-0-3, Trontel 0-0-0-0, Evangelista 0-0-0-0, Total 29-12-19-78

By Quarters

Warren 9 10 9 7 – 35

Hickor y 15 13 27 23 – 78

3-point FGs: Warren (3) – Bablak 2, Arnold. Hickory (8)-Connone 3, Jarzab 2, Whitehead, P. Mele, Boal


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