KANSAS - It had been a rather rude welcome back for Calvert's Nick Warnement this past week.
Okay. Scratch the rather and insert very.
Warnement, last year's Midland Athletic League Player of the Year, had missed this season's first 19 games due to a wrist injury suffered in the final football game of the fall.
His first opportunity was against eventual MAL tri-champion New Riegel, the league's top defensive unit. Then came a game at Blanchard Valley Conference champion Liberty-Benton, the state's No. 2 team in the final Associated Press poll.
Not good and not good.
Friday night, it was a little more relaxed setting for both Warnement and the Senecas at Lakota and they took advantage.
Warnement scored eight points with six rebounds, eight assists and three steals and Calvert was a runaway 58-33 winner.
"It's not easy when you haven't played basketball in a while and you've got to play New Riegel and then you turn around and play Liberty-Benton," Calvert coach Ted Willman said after his club closed regular-season play at 5-17 overall and 4-7 in the league. "Those are defensive teams who get after it.
"I thought we had a little more comfort out there tonight," he said. "He's had a few more days of practice, a few more days with his teammates and you can see they're all coming together.
"It's one thing to come in and do form shooting, run the treadmill and work the exercise bike, but it's a little different ballgame to plug yourself into a system with guys you haven't practiced with in four months."
The key element Friday, besides a developing offense, was an improved defensive effort by the Senecas. The Raiders (8-14, 3-8) were seemingly on the treadmill in the second half, when they were limited to 13 total points.
Brian Gruss and Austin Ball each scored five and Warnement added four points and a couple assists as the Senecas opened a 14-9 first-quarter lead. They laid the foundation for a 35-24 rebounding advantage with 10 first-quarter boards, five of them by Gruss.
Mike Smith hit a baseline jumper, Warnement drove for a three-point play and then fed Jared Thompson for a transition basket to make it 21-9 less than two minutes into the second period.
But Josh Kirkpatrick hit a couple baskets, as did Darris McGown, his latter score a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to pull the Raiders to within 26-20 at the half.
Calvert started to pull away midway through the third as Thompson hit a couple inside hoops and assisted on an Austin Perry basket. Mike Bennett then hit a 3-pointer and a putback for a 37-25 edge.
Thompson, who led the Senecas with 10 points, and Perry, who had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds, dominated inside as the Senecas put the game away.
Lakota managed just 5-of-19 from the field in the second half and totaled 24 turnovers.
"(Kody) Brewer was averaging 13 points, but we held him to four, and two of those were at the foul line," Willman said. "I thought we did a nice job of helping out and not letting their guys get very many good looks.
"And we did a much better job of boxing out," he said. "This was probably our best night at being pretty consistent for 32 minutes."
Gruss contributed eight points and eight rebounds for the winners while Bennett added seven points and Smith six. Calvert converted 12-of-13 from the foul line.
Lakota, which faces Fostoria at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Findlay Division III sectional, got 11 points and four rebounds from Colin Timmons. McGown and Kirkpatrick each scored seven and Brewer had five assists.
Calvert meets Mohawk at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Division IV sectional at Fostoria High School. The Senecas topped the Warriors 70-59 two weeks ago.
"This was a good way to end the season on the road," Willman said. "It was good for us to have this kind of game going into the tournament. We're basically looking at it like we've had 22 scrimmages and we're all going into the tournament 0-0. We have to get re-focused for Mohawk."