Dream season comes to an end for Warren girls against Pine-Richland

ERIE A season for the ages came to an end for the Warren Lady Dragons on Friday night.

Behind a game-opening 29-2 run, Pine-Richland earned a 61-39 win over the District 10 champions in the firstround of the PIAA Class AAAA championships at the Prep-Villa Events Center.

“I’m very proud of this team,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “You have 1,000 things you want to say (afterwards). I try and keep it short, but it never works out that way.”

Whether it was nerves, or the hot-shooting and athleticism of the Rams (19-6), the third-place team out of the WPIAL, Warren looked out of sorts for the first 12 minutes of the game.

By the time they got their footing under them, P-R had drained six of its nine 3-pointers in the game, including four by Chelsea Rourke, who finished with a game-high 22 points.

“Honestly, the first 12 minutes, that wasn’t my team,” LaVan said. “They know that and they’re frustrated and upset with themselves over that. A little bit of nerves, a little bit of angst and once they woke up a little bit, it got better, but Pine-Richland had already done a lot of the damage.”

A jumper by D.J. Hahn with 1:27 to go in the first quarter were Warren’s first points of the game, and by the time Margo Loutzenhiser put the next Warren points on the board, it was a 25-point deficit.

“They did exactly what we expected them to,” LaVan said. “We didn’t execute the game plan in the first 12 minutes. After that, we started to execute a little bit.”

Despite a 34-9 halftime deficit, the Lady Dragons (20-5), who won their first District 10 championship in program history over McDowell last week, showed no quit.

A 3-point play by Maddie Loutzenhiser and a layup by Lizzy Marsh to start the second half cut the margin to 20, 34-14, but Pine-Richland’s 3-point barrage continued, with another by Rourke as well as Duquesne recruit Amanda Kalin, who scored 18 points.

Hahn showed why she is playing at the next level as well (for defending Division II national champion Cal), scoring 10 of her 14 points in the final 16 minutes.

Margo Loutzenhiser, just a freshman, showed tremendous poise, drilling a couple of tough jumpers in the second half to finish with eight points. She is just one of the many reasons why the future of Warren girls basketball is bright.

It was part of a Lady Dragon team that showed no quit, despite the outcome being in hand.

“What I love about this team is they never gave up,” LaVan said. “My kids, we’re down 30 and they’re still slamming on the floor and diving for loose balls and giving me everything they have. You know what? That makes me proud. That’s Lady Dragon basketball right there.”

Paige Wilson scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter, as she came out to a standing ovation from the Warren faithful late in the fourth quarter, as did fellow seniors Hahn and Marsh.

It’s a group that will hold a special place in their coach’s heart, as well as a special place in Warren girls basketball lore.

“I tell them all the time, I hope its more than just basketball,” LaVan said. “Basketball is just the tool for me to teach them what’s coming next in life. They’re ready for it. I’m Excited to see D.J., what she does basketball wise in college, Paige what she does with her softball at Cal and I’m excited to see where Lizzy lands and what she decides to do. They’re great kids.”

It’s a program that LaVan, her staff and the players before this 2015-16 have built, and it’s in good hands.

“We kind of joked about how three years ago we sat in the locker room after a win over Oil City crying, but we weren’t in the playoffs,” LaVan said. “What I wrapped up to them was ‘we were here and we did it.’ We accomplished the goal we set out to do and the rest was going to be icing on the cake. There’s no icing, but that’s alright though. This team is amazing and this program is amazing. Together we are building something pretty special.”

PINE-RICHLAND (61)

Kalin 7-2-2-18, Byerly 1-3-4-6, DeTemple 3-0-0-8, Rourke 9-0-0-22, Jenkins 0-1-2-1, Davis 2-0-0-4, Polce 1-0-0-2, Totals 23-6-8-59

WARREN (39)

Hahn 4-5-8-14, Marsh 1-0-0-2, P. Wilson 1-5-7-7, Mad. Loutzenhiser 1-4-5-6, R. Wilson 0-1-2-1, Mar. Loutzenhiser 3-2-2-8, Wortman 0-0-0-0, Wood 0-1-2-1, Totals 10-18-26-39

By Quarters

Pine-Richland 14 20 17 10 61

Warren 2 7 11 19 39

Three-point FGs: Pine-Richland (9) Rourke 4, Kalin 2, DeTemple 2, Byerly; Warren (1) Hahn