Lady Dragons battle in close loss to Mercyhurst Prep

Warren’s Taylor Childress drives to the basket during Thursday’s game against Mercyhurst Prep. Childress had nine points in the game.

While they aren’t big on moral victories, the Warren Lady Dragons nevertheless have plenty to build on following a 55-46 loss to powerhouse Mercyhurst Prep on Thursday.

Playing again without point guard Autumn Hultberg, they got 18 points from Margo Loutzenhiser as well as strong efforts from Taylor Childress, Rachel Wilson, Gracie Wood and Kelsey Stuart among others.

It was a far cry from their last two games against Southwestern and Erie High.

“It helped being in the gym for two days and being able to practice without having Autumn,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “We basically played two games without practice and it showed. And the confidence we showed tonight, they really did a nice job.”

The game was played within a tight window throughout, with Mercyhurst Prep (4-0) pulling away late from the foul line.

Warren’s Rachel Wilson (15) goes up high for a rebound during Thursday’s non-region game against Mercyhurst Prep on Thursday, December, 21, 2017 at Joseph A. Massa Gymnasium. Wilson pulled down 10 rebounds in the game.

Loutzenhiser attacked the rim early and often, scoring nine of her 18 in the first quarter, with back-to-back layups from Childress and Stuart to close out the quarter after the Lakers had taken a 16-7 lead.

Warren stepped up its defense in the second, limiting Mercyhurst to just seven point.

Wood knocked down a triple midway through the quarter and a pair of free throws by Childress and another by Wilson gave Warren (1-4) a 23-20 lead before Mercyhurst Prep’s Renee Stoicovy tied the game just before the horn with a 3.

“We worked on a lot the last two days in practice,” LaVan said. “They looked great. One of our focus was on rebounding and they finally stepped that up today.”

Indeed they did, with Loutzenhiser pulling down 11 boards and Wilson 10, with Alanna Hultberg also having a strong game on the glass.

A 3 by Miranda Bly gave MP a 26-23 lead to open the third, and they never trailed again, although the game remained tight throughout.

A pair of free throws by Stuart and a 3 by Loutzenhiser made it 36-31 to close the third.

“Margo attracts a lot of attention and she’s working on dishing the ball out,” LaVan said. “She got better at it as the game went on. She knows that her teammates are ready to go and they stepped up great tonight.”

Childress in particular had a strong game handling the ball, and her free throws cut the margin to three early in the fourth.

“I thought Taylor Childress stepped up and played awesome and Rachel Wilson gave me what Rachel Wilson can do every single game, noted LaVan. “The scoring will come, but defensively and rebounding she is an absolute beast.”

Mercyhurst Prep answered every challenge, however, as Bly, Stoicovy and Emily Thompson knocked down their free throws down the stretch when the Lady Dragons were forced to foul.

Thompson had 20 and Stoicovy 17 to lead MP.

For Warren, which schedule doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Harbor Creek today, they know this schedule will only make them better, especially when Hultberg comes back.

“Obviously, we’ve always measured ourselves on wins and losses, but we also know that we made our season brutal at the beginning for a reason,” LaVan said. “What’s so important is that it’s a marathon. You go out and want to win every game, but it’s a marathon. Every game until Autumn is back on the floor with us, those are huge moments for the rest of our team to step up. But the difference between Saturday to today, it’s huge. It’s night and day.”

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MERCYHURST PREP (55)

Bly 0-6-8-9, Chermack 0-2-2-2, Thompson 5-9-14-20, Stoicovy 5-4-4-17, Spizarny 1-0-1-2, Pasko 0-0-0-0, Spano 0-0-0-0, Lutterbaugh 2-0-0-5, Totals 14-21-29-55

WARREN (46)

Childress 2-5-9-9, Wood 2-4-5-9, Hultberg 1-1-2-3, Wilson 1-1-2-3, Loutzenhiser 5-6-8-18, Stuart 1-2-2-4, Citro 0-0-0-0, Lupole 0-0-0-0, Totals 12-19-28-46

By Quarters

Mercyhurst Prep 16 7 13 19 – 55

Warren 14 9 8 15 – 46

Three-point FGs: Mercyhurst Prep (6) – Stoicovy 3, Thompson, Bly, Lutterbaugh; Warren (3) – Loutzenhiser 2, Wood

– – –

JV

Warren 31, Mercyhurst Prep 20

WARREN (31)

Jewell 0-0-2-0, Stuart 3-2-4-9, Nebinski 3-1-3-7, Matson 1-0-0-2, Paris 0-1-2-1, Barrett 0-0-0-0, Neureiter 3-0-5-7, Citro 1-3-5-5

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