Shiny and new: Renovated gym at WAHS set to make debut on Friday with Warren girls Tip-Off Tournament

The newly renovated Joseph A Massa Gymnasium at Warren Area High School (shown above) will make its debut on Friday when the Warren Lady Dragons host their fifth annual Tip-Off Tournament this weekend.

The Warren Lady Dragons are rolling out the red carpet to start the 2017-18 basketball season.

Not only are they bringing in another loaded field for their fifth annual Tip-Off Tournament, but they will also get the first chance to show off the newly renovated Joseph A. Massa Gymnasium on Friday and Saturday.

The pristine upgrades are noticeable the moment you walk in. Among the new features are the court, obviously, as well as new bleachers in both the lower level and balcony, a new perch for the radio crew and windows which allow viewing from the outside.

“It looks really good,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “It’s been a long time coming. I know the girls are excited about it and the student body is excited about it. It looks really cool.”

Not only does it look the part, there are qualities that go far beyond its aesthetic appeal.

“The one thing I’ve already noticed and even the girls say is how much more give there is to the floor,” LaVan said. “There legs feel better, so that’s a great thing. The whole school in general looks amazing. They still have a little ways to go, but it looks awesome.”

And it will get shown off for the first time with a four-team field that includes Orchard Park (NY), Panama (NY) and Moniteau, all teams, Warren included, that have made a habit out of deep playoff runs.

“I’ve said since day one the best thing we can do is make our tip-off the hardest it can be,” said LaVan. “We even loaded up on scrimmages this year, making them as hard as they can be. I’ve always been true to testing our team. You have to want to challenge your team. Our program has improved because of this tip-off tournament. We’ve gotten better because we’ve played better competition.”

The schedule will look like this on Friday: 3:30 p.m. – Moniteau vs. Warren JV; 5 p.m. – Panama vs. Orchard Park JV; 6:30 – Panama vs. Orchard Park; 8 – Warren vs. Moniteau; The JV consolation will be at 3 p.m. on Saturday, followed by the JV championship at 5, the varsity consolation at 6 and the varsity championship at 7:30.

“Orchard Park is going to be really good this year,” noted LaVan.

“They were in the Top 25 at one point and they are in the biggest classification in New York, 2A. And they return everybody. They start five seniors. Panama, it’s either been three or four straight state runner-up finishes. They’re a small school, but he (coach Jeff Angeletti) loves coming because of the competition.”

And then there’s Moniteau, which has won 35 games the last two seasons under coach Dee Arblaster.

“I’ve known Dee for quite a while, and when she went back to Moniteau, it was really nice,” LaVan said. “I hit her up right away and she said they’d like to come, so that’s been really good.”

As for the Dragons, expectations will once again be high for a program that has won 38 games the past two seasons, including a District 10 championship in 2016.

And it’s far from just great competition in the Tip-Off Tournament. Warren faced top-notch programs all summer and loaded up on its schedule for this season.

“We picked up Southwestern (twice), Jamestown (New York) and Girard,” noted LaVan. “And we’re going down to Cal U. for their Christmas Tournament. That’s going to be awesome for us….and we need it.”

It’s going to be a team that will have no problem pushing the ball up and down the floor.

“It’s going to be a quick pace, a fast style,” she said. “We still have a solid inside game, but we have a lot of guards, and we’re going to be fun to watch.”