Warrenton boys basketball upset by St. Dominic in district opener

By Kory Carpenter, Record Sports Editor
Posted 2/3/17

For the second time in five days, Warrenton outscored an opponent 8-0 to start a game. And for the second time in five days, the Warriors couldn’t hold the early lead. St. Dominic tied Monday’s …

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Warrenton boys basketball upset by St. Dominic in district opener


For the second time in five days, Warrenton outscored an opponent 8-0 to start a game.

And for the second time in five days, the Warriors couldn’t hold the early lead.

St. Dominic tied Monday’s Class 4, District 8 opener at 21 in the second quarter, built its lead to as many as 15 points and beat Warrenton, 60-54, to advance to Tuesday’s semifinals.

It was a game Warrenton didn’t expect to play in a month ago.

The Warriors were 15-3 heading into their Feb. 8 matchup with Clopton, and a top-2 seed — and first-round bye — in their district tournament seemed secure.

Losses to Clopton and Montgomery County  — Class 2 and 3 schools — didn’t help their case.

“We had the seed meeting the week we lost two games, and that was a big difference,” Warrenton Head Coach Mike Uffmann said. “Now, I don’t think St. Dominic is the No. 6 seed, I think they’re the No. 4 or No. 5. But if we can’t beat even the fourth-best team in the district, we weren’t going to go very far anyway.”

Down five with two minutes remaining, junior forward Caleb Strauss scored his first field goal of the game to get the Warriors within three.

But like the rest of the fourth quarter, Warrenton couldn’t outplay St. Dominic when it needed to.

The Warriors went on a defensive surge earlier in the half, but came up empty on four straight possessions.

“We knew we had to get everything through our defense in the fourth,” Uffmann said. “And the problem was, even in the third, we got three or four stops in a row, but we didn’t do anything with it. We didn’t get a score. We were getting our stops, but we didn’t translate it to points.”

St. Dominic scored on its last three possessions to hold back Warrenton’s comeback bid.

Junior guard Dylan Chandler came off the bench for seven fourth-quarter points to help a flailing Warrenton offense that scored 36 points in the final 28 minutes.

Strauss and fellow starter Jake Tonioli combined to score six points.

One hour before the final buzzer sounded, Warrenton seemed poised to win its second postseason game in two years and play No. 2 Fulton Tuesday night.

The Warriors went up 14-5 late in the first quarter by attacking the middle of St. Dominic’s zone and dumping the ball to senior forward Trevor Alberternst on the baseline.

Alberternst scored six points in the first quarter and had 10 at halftime.

St. Dominic scored on a layup at the first-quarter buzzer to cut its deficit to five, and Warrenton began turning the ball over in the second.

The Crusaders deployed a full-court press before trapping Warrenton guards in halfcourt sets.

Warrenton’s lead disappeared with 3:35 left in the first half.

“We stopped attacking through the middle and did more throughout the perimeter instead of attacking the middle, and that’s what it came down to,” Uffmann said. “When Caleb came out because of foul trouble, Trevor went to the middle. And Trevor is most effective on the baseline, so when he’s in the middle it takes away our advantage on the baseline. Caleb picking up two early ones was a big momentum swing for them.”

Warrenton’s offense was anemic in the second and third quarters, as the Warriors scored 15 points total.

Foul trouble didn’t help their cause.

Junior guard Brenden Smith picked up his third foul a minute into the third quarter.

“He’s the one who makes us go and has the ball in his hand the majority of the time,” Uffmann said of Smith. “He attacks and he’s our best decision-maker. With him and Caleb out, it’s a completely different look.”

St. Dominic’s lead grew from six to 11 heading into the fourth, when Warrenton’s offense came alive.

Five Warriors scored 25 points as their season ticked away.

Smith and Strauss avoided their fifth fouls and scored 11 points, but St. Dominic knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the fourth to balloon its lead to 15.

“They hit two huge three’s in the fourth,” Uffmann said. “And they killed us at end-of-quarter execution. They executed and got four points off those plays earlier in the game, and we cut it to four points at one point, so without those plays it’s a tie game.”

After the game Uffmann couldn’t help but look back at the missed opportunity in the first quarter.

“We were up 14-5 with the ball in our hands with a minute-and-a-half left, and what got us the lead is that we were patient and ran our offense through more than one ball reversal,” he said. “When we stopped that, and didn’t make the defense shift, they ended up getting deflections or getting set up. We needed to be patient. We got up 14-5 by dictating everything. After that, they dictated everything.”

But Monday night’s mistakes weren’t the only reason the Warriors failed to play in the district semifinals.

Wins over Montgomery County and Clopton — games they lost by a combined six points — would have likely earned Warrenton a No. 2 seed.

“There were teams on our schedule late in the year that we should have put away, and we just didn’t do it,” Uffmann said. 

“We could have beaten anybody in the district, but we could have lost to anybody in the district. And when you’re 18-8, it shouldn’t be that way. We need to turn the corner and beat the teams we should beat, and stop playing to the level of our competition.”

.JUMP SHOT — Jake Tonioli attempts a 3-pointer Monday night against St. Dominic in the first round of the Class 4, District 8 tournament. Warrenton lost, 60-54 Kory Carpenter photo.