CORBETT The Warrenton boys basketball team had a rough start in a Lewis & Clark League road matchup against Corbett Tuesday. The Warriors were flying high at the conclusion of the contest, though, as Reese Johnson poured in 22 points to lead Warrenton to a 58-38 win.
It was an important momentum-building win for Warrenton (8-11 overall, 6-5 LCC) and coach Josh Jannusch, whose team had lost four of its previous five games. The victory helped Warrenton retain a solid grip of fourth place in the nine-team Lewis & Clark League. Only the top-six teams advance to the upcoming Class 3A district playoffs following the conclusion of the regular season Feb. 10.
This win provides us with some momentum and thats what were trying to get at this point of the season, said Jannusch, the Warriors fifth-year head coach. Were hoping to move up to third place and I think that goal is within our reach.
Both squads played tough defense at the outset and Corbett led 8-6 after the first quarter. Johnson, a sharp-shooting senior guard, connected on a long-range 24-foot jumper from the top of the arc as the Warriors took a 9-8 advantage in the first minute of the second quarter and they didnt trail again.
Ive been shooting real well the last couple of games and hopefully, Ill continue doing that for the remainder of the season so that I can help our team win some games, said Johnson, who sank a total of five 3-pointers. In the last few games, weve had some rough starts and then we start getting into a rhythm in the second and third quarters. I think we just have to avoid having these slow starts.
Johnsons back-to-back 3-pointers near the end of the quarter, helped Warrenton outscore Corbett (8-10, 3-7 LCC) 18-9 in the second, as the Warriors took a 24-17 halftime advantage.
Corbett is always a tough place to play, said Jannusch. Its our longest road trip of the year and sometimes its hard to start out well. It was hot in the gym and its kind of a hostile environment. The guys came out and recovered well from a rough start. It was nice to have Reese shooting as well as he did in the second quarter.
Johnsons hot shooting helped Warrenton extend the margin to double digits in the third. Johnsons steal and a breakaway layup made it 26-17. Junior guard Nate Ferrell (11 points, seven assists) followed with a layup on a Warrior fast break. Ferrell was fouled and he sank a free throw to convert a three-point play for a 29-17 lead with 6:38 left in the third.
Midway through the third quarter, Johnson twisted his left ankle and he received treatment. Despite his absence, Warrenton built a 38-25 lead after three. Johnson returned to the court early in the fourth.
I think well have a good chance to make a run at possibly getting the No. 1 seed at the district playoffs, said Johnson. Were hoping to advance to the state playoffs for the second straight year and that would be awesome.
The momentum continued in the Warriors favor as Billy Kerr (eight points, seven rebounds), Ferrell, Mason Meeswsen (four points) and Jordan Hollaway (four points, 10 rebounds) helped lead the offense. Warrenton had a number of fourth-quarter fast-break scoring opportunities. Late in the game, Corbett fouled to stop the clock, but the Warriors shot 72 percent (8-of-11) from the free throw line to enable them to pull away into a big lead at the end.
It would be great If we can get the No. 3 district seed, said Jannusch. You have two chances to qualify for state. If you lose the first game, then you still have an opportunity to come back and win the second game to earn a state playoff berth. We have to take it one game at a time though. Were a talented team, but we cant afford to overlook anybody.
Warrenton has six games remaining in the regular season. Next up is a 7:30 p.m. matchup at home Friday against Oregon Episcopal.