Lady Dragons drop hard-fought battle with Orchard Park
The Warren Lady Dragons got exactly what they needed, but not what they wanted on Saturday against Orchard Park.
Seeking early season tests, the Lady Dragons battled won of the top big schools in Western New York, a competition level that they desire. The result, however was a 62-53 setback that, despite it being December, had a playoff-type level of intensity.
“That’s what we needed,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “We had it, we were there ,and then we lost our lead and were playing catch-up the rest of the game.”
The setback came despite the best efforts of junior Margo Loutzenhiser, who poured in a career-high 30 points. The talented guard drove the lane at will with her aggressive style, and was able to finish through contact on several occasions.
“She loves competition, she doesn’t shy away from it, there’s no doubt about that,” her coach said. “We just have to be ready, because teams are going to zero in on that. She’s going to have her fill, she’s going to get the best defender and people trying to shut her down.”
The lead LaVan referred to was a 24-17 advantage in the second quarter. That evaporated quickly, as the Lady Quakers (4-0) went on a 10-0 run to close the half up 27-17.
Despite the game being close throughout, they never trailed again.
The lead swelled to 10 in third before a nifty maneuver by Autumn Hultberg in the lane and back-to-back buckets by Loutzenhiser to close the quarter got Warren within six, 40-34.
Orchard Park and specifically 6-1 senior Samantha Fischer proved to be too much to overcome in the fourth, however.
Fischer got into foul trouble in the first half, thanks in large part to the play of Warren’s Rachel Wilson, but she played with a vengeance in the fourth, scoring five points right away to make it 49-40. She had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the game.
Warren got within six on several occasions and cut the deficit to five once after a pair of free throws by Loutzenhiser, but couldn’t get over the hump.
“They have a good big presence and it was a challenge, it was what we needed.,” LaVan said. “It’s disappointing, because you want to get that W, but its early in the season. It was a good game for us. I’m glad they came down to play us.”
Much like Friday’s game against Moniteau, the Lady Dragons got off to a slow start offensively, with a driving layup by Hultberg getting them on the board over two minutes into the contest.
They quickly found their rhythm, however, as Taylor Childress followed by knocking down a triple, and another three by Loutzenhiser gave them the advantage, 10-9 after the first quarter.
Loutzenhiser hit another three to start the second and a triple by Gracie Wood followed by a layup by Loutzenhiser gave Warren that 24-17 lead, their biggest of the game.
“We’ve been preaching all along, we have a lot of kids that can score, we just need to get them into the right spots and execute,” LaVan said. “I know we’re capable of doing that. They got a talking to in the locker room about it. We need to get everyone in the spots they need to be.”
Orchard Park, led by Fischer, also had a big advantage on the glass. Warren played a lot of zone, but their coach didn’t use that as an excuse for the lack of rebounding.
“That’s the theory (that it’s tough rebounding out of a zone), but we’ve always said that theory doesn’t hold true for us,” she said. “We need to be smarter about where we’re going. At times we were boxing out their big girl, whichever big was on the floor, and we just weren’t getting the weakside rebound. It’s frustrating for sure.”
Danielle Hore, who had 11 points and Lily Flannery, Orchard Park’s top two guards, were able to get to a lot of those boards that LaVan was referring to.
She also praised Wilson, who draws the assignment of the opponent’s top forward game in and game out, with Ceci Citro also logging important minutes in that role.
“She battled,” LaVan said of Wilson. “Every game she’s going to have to take the best big girl, and most teams have a good big. She did a really nice job on her. She got her in foul trouble by taking it at her.”
Wilson had six rebounds while Hultberg player her usual strong all-around game, dishing out seven assists.
The schedule remains tough, which was by design, as the Lady Dragons look to get back in the win column when they travel to Harbor Creek on Wednesday.
“We have Harbor Creek on Wednesday and then turn around and play Southwestern, Erie High and Mercyhurst Prep,” LaVan said. “That’s good. That’s what we need.”
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ORCHARD PARK (62)
Flannery 1-3-6-6, Hore 3-4-4-11, Miller 4-0-2-10, Fischer 7-9-13-23, Probst 2-2-4-6, Cullen 0-0-0-0, Major 0-0-0-0, Erie 0-0-0-0, Harrigan 0-0-0-0, Swiatek 1-0-0-2, O’Connor 1-0-0-2, Stevenson 1-0-0-2, Totals 20-17-29-62
Childress 1-0-0-3, Al. Hultberg 0-0-0-0, Wilson 1-2-2-4, Loutzenhiser 9-10-13-30, Au. Hultberg 5-1-2-11, Wood 2-0-0-5, Lupole 0-0-0-0, Stuart 0-0-0-0, Citro 0-0-2-0, Totals 18-13-19-53
Orchard Park 9 18 13 22 – 62
Warren 10 14 10 19 – 53
Three-point FGs: Orchard Park(4) – Miller 2, Flannery, Hore; Warren (4) – Loutzenhiser 2, Wood, Childress