By ALLEN SEYBERT
Mercyhurst Prep continually left the door open during Wednesday night's Region 6 girls basketball game at Warren Area High School.
Times Observer photo by Allen Seybert
Warren’s Kristen Hultquist, right, shoots over Mercyhurst Prep’s Elysha Chrzanowski during the first half of a girls basketball game Wednesday at Warren Area High School. The Lakers defeated the Dragons, 64-47.
The Dragons simply couldn't push through.
In a game that's final score doesn't necessarily tell the story, the Lakers - ranked fifth in the PIAA Class AAA girls rankings - handed the Dragons a 64-47 setback.
The loss was Warren's third straight in region play, dropping the Dragons to 7-4 overall and 1-3 in the highly competitive Region 6. Those three straight losses have come to first-place Mercyhurst, second-place North East and third-place General McLane.
"Nobody outside of McDowell has given them a game like we just did," said Warren coach Lisa Ruhlman. "To know we gave them that kind of game and played as well as we did is very encouraging. This was a 10-point game in my mind. They put some distance on us late as we were forced to foul."
While the three straight region losses have dropped the Dragons to fifth in the standings, Ruhlman is optimistic going forward.
"We lost by one point to both North East and McLane and gave the fifth-ranked team in the state a scare tonight," said Ruhlman. "Despite the losses, I think we've solidified that we can be the second best team in our region. I have no doubt that we are going to take care of business from here on out."
Unlike the loss to North East where the Dragons spotted the opposition a 12-0 lead, the Dragons played well early and built a slim lead after one quarter. Down 10-9, Warren got back-to-back buckets from Emily Sherman and Jaimie Eaton to grab a 13-10 lead late in the first. The Lakers scored the final bucket of the stanza and trailed by one after a period.
Things remained close and Warren held a 21-19 advantage with just over three minutes left in the first half. At that point, Mercyhurst put together a 10-0 run to take control. Led by forwards Brenna Robbins and Elysha Chrzanowski, the Lakers got a couple of easy buckets inside and back-to-back threes by Kayla Wilwohl gave Mercyhurst a 29-21 lead at intermission.
The Lakers (12-0, 5-0 Region 6) pushed the lead to double figures early in the second half, but Warren refused to go away. Taylor Mineweaser connected on a deep three and Sherman scored in the lane to get the Dragons within four at 35-31.
As good teams often do, the Lakers responded positively to the adversity and stretched the lead back to nine, 46-37, after three quarters.
Perhaps the biggest stretch of the game came early in the fourth as the Lakers took just 40 seconds to push a nine-point lead to 14 points. Warren was able to cut the deficit to 10 points several times, however, every opportunity to get even closer saw a near miss from the Dragons.
The Dragons were forced to foul late in an effort to extend the game, but Mercyhurst was stellar at the charity stripe. In the final stanza, the Lakers scored 14 of their 18 points from the free throw line. All told, Mercyhurst connected on 14 of 18 fourth quarter freebies.
Warren's Achilles heel in the contest was rebounding. The Dragons corralled just 13 total rebounds in the 32-minute game.
Sherman had another big game for Warren, finishing with a team-high 14 points. Eaton added 13 points and four assists and Kristen Hultquist and Sabrina Anderson each chipped in seven points.
Robbins led the Lakers with 18 points and Amanda Berchtold added 15 points of her own. All 64 Mercyhurst points were scored by the starting lineup.
The fifth-ranked Lakers and Warren County had another interesting connection on Wednesday. Lakers assistant coach Jen Crawford is a 2000 graduate of Youngsville High School where she scored 1,058 career points for the Lady Eagles.
Mercyhurst Prep won the junior varsity game in a rout, 45-23. Amy Castagnino scored seven points to lead the Dragons.
Warren will try to end its three-game skid Saturday when it travels to Fairview (4-6, 0-4 Region 6). Junior varsity action is scheduled for 1 p.m. with varsity to follow.
MERCYHURST (64): Robbins 5 7-10 18, Chrzanowski 4 6-8 14, Wilwohl 4 3-4 13, Berchtold 5 5-6 15, Popoff 2 0-0 4, Totals: 20 21-28 64
WARREN (47): Kristen Hultquist 3 0-0 7, Jaimie Eaton 6 1-2 13, Emily Sherman 6 2-2 14, Taylor Mineweaser 1 0-0 3, Sabrina Anderson 3 1-3 7, Kristie Reynolds 1 0-0 3, Totals: 20 4-7 47
Mercyhurst Prep 12 17 17 18 - 64
Warren 13 8 16 10 - 47
3-pointers: M- Robbins, Wilwohl 2; W- Hultquist, Mineweaser, Reynolds
Junior varsity game
MERCYHURST (45): Przepierski 2 0-0 4, Simpson 3 0-0 6, Zimmer 2 1-3 5, Steiner 7 2-2 16, Konkle 2 0-0 4, Shopene 2 2-2 6, Wright 2 0-0 4, Totals: 20 5-7 45
WARREN (23): Ashlee McClure 1 0-0 2, Megan Smoulder 2 0-0 4, Meghan Loutzenhiser 1 1-2 4, Amy Castagnino 2 2-2 7, McKenzie Merenick 1 0-0 2, Lexie Ednie 1 1-2 3, Brittni Merenick 0 1-3 1, Brittany Massa 0 0-0 0, Totals: 8 5-9 23
Mercyhurst Prep 13 12 10 10 - 45
Warren 4 8 2 9 - 23
3-pointers: M- None; W- Loutzenhiser, Castagnino