Driven Lady Dragons did it with determination, joy

Shortly after their 35-30 District 10 championship game win over McDowell, the Warren girls gathered in the locker room at the Prep/Villa Events Center. Head coach Lisa LaVan had yet to arrive.

Upon entering, she was doused with water, courtesy of all 14 of her players.

LaVan took it in stride, as plenty of celebratory cheers ensued from both players and coaches alike.

It’s a sign of just how much fun this team has had in their run to the first District 10 title in program history. Sure, every team, every player and every coach would celebrate after a moment like they just had, but there was something uniquely special about the moment.

LaVan’s outgoing and lively personality rubs off on her players, and conversely, the players have rubbed off on her and her staff as well.

It’s as tight-knit of a group as I have seen.

“It’s been a long time coming,” LaVan said of the district championship.

It certainly has been, as LaVan, who is in her eighth season, has built a championship program, along with assistants John White, Jasper Merenick and Jessica Robinson.

Understandably, the full reality of what they’ve accomplished hasn’t quite hit yet.

“I don’t think its set in yet,” said freshman guard Margo Loutzenhiser.

Loutzenhiser certainly didn’t look like a freshman, as she never came off the floor in the pivotal and pressure packed fourth quarter.

She also represents what truly is a family affair, as her sister Maddie, a junior, starts and often plays along side her when Margo comes off the bench.

Fellow sisters Paige and Rachel Wilson dot the starting lineup as well.

Meghan Loutzenhiser, the oldest of the sisters who graduated last year, was in attendance, as were a number of other former players, including Hollie Rapp and Taylor Mineweaser.

Senior guard D.J. Hahn said afterwards, that this was for all those former players, as well as those yet to come, and that certainly was on full display.

LaVan, for her part, echoed the same thoughts as the youngest Loutzenhiser.

“It just hasn’t hit yet,” she said. “You know you did something pretty magical and pretty awesome, and it really comes down to all these kids, all 14 of them.”

While just seven both Wilsons, both Loutzenhisers, Hahn, Lizzy Marsh and Megan Wortman played in the game itself, it truly was a team effort.

It’s also something that they will always carry with them.

“One day they’re going to come into the gym when they’re in college, or when they’re married with kids and say ‘yeah, that’s mine, my team did that,'” LaVan said.

LaVan should know, as she won a district championship as a player at Bradford High her junior year.

Many people from McKean County were quick to congratulate the Lady Dragons coach, including longtime Bradford boys coach Dave Fuhrman, showing just how wide-reaching the accomplishment is.

The team will look to make more memories on Friday when they seek the program’s first-ever state playoff win against Pine-Richland.

No matter the outcome, however, what they did on Saturday is something that can never be taken away.

“To hang that banner, that’s something special,” LaVan said, while pointing out that with Joseph A. Massa Gymnasium under renovations, the actual banner won’t be up for a while.

“We’re going to make our own banner with a piece of paper and hang it in the gym as soon as humanly possible,” she said.

And it will have all the heart, soul and attitude of a championship that was so richly deserved for everyone involved.