Lady Dragons face Hickory with trip to state playoffs on the line

Taylor Childress and the Lady Dragons square off with Hickory today with a trip to the state playoffs on the line.

The goal of winning a District 10 championship this season is no longer on the table for the Warren Lady Dragons, but there’s a lot that still is.

Their 5A third place game against Hickory (15-8) today at Meadville High School (2:30 p.m.) will determine the final entry for D-10 in the PIAA playoffs, which begin a week from today.

“You want a district title, that’s where our success lies,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “To not have that is frustrating, but I also know that we’ve had a good season and we can make it even better by getting a win (today).”

It’s a team that shows no negative effects from a 75-60 loss to Slippery Rock in the semifinals on Wednesday, where the Lady Rockets shot 47 percent from 3-point range.

They are upbeat and ready to go, and aren’t ready to be done playing this season.

The Lady Hornets are coming off a 45-39 loss to Harbor Creek in the semis and have a lineup that is pretty balanced in terms of height (5-7 to 5-9) and is led by senior guard Hannah Crow, who is averaging 12.5 ppg.

“I think we matchup well with them in terms of what we do and how we run our stuff,” LaVan said. “I think our speed and athleticism is going to play a big factor. At this point in the season, the goal is to build upon your strengths and play to them as much as possible.”

Senior Carly Roesch, who averages 8.9 ppg, led Hickory against Harbor Creek with 12 points, the only player to score in double figures.

Hannah Aikens checks in at 7.9 ppg., Carly Brest 6.8 and Jessica White 6.4.

While the Lady Dragons (12-12) found it tough to slow down Slippery Rock’s shooting on Wednesday, offense was not a problem, led by Margo Loutzenhiser, who scored a career-high 35 points.

Autumn Hultberg had 14, while Morgan Lupole played well off the bench for the Lady Dragons, who have a plethora of guards, including Alanna Hultberg, Taylor Childress, Kelsey Stuart and Gracie Wood who have been vital to their success.

Rachel Wilson, who scored a season-high 11 points in the win over General McLane in the quarterfinals, has been a steady presence inside all season, as has Ceci Citro.

It’s a team that knows what’s in front of them and has battled through the good times and the tough times this season to get where they are at.

“Push comes to shove, you put this team in a corner they’re going to come out scrapping,” LaVan said. “At this point, they know they’re in a corner, because you either win or you go home. I think we’re going to see the true warriors that they are.”

The reward for the winner will be the WPIAL runner-up, either Gateway or Oakland Catholic.

The Slippery Rock-Harbor Creek game will immediately follow at Meadville at approximately 4 p.m., with the 2A third-place game between Cambridge Springs and Maplewood tipping things off from Meadville at 1 p.m.

“I told them, for me, coming full circle, I guess when I started out coaching I wanted to win a district title – that was a big deal. Every year, that’s what you want to do,” LaVan said. “At the end, what I hold tight to is not a District 10 picture, not a District 10 trophy, medal, not any of that. What I hold tight to is our PIAA bracket that sits in my house. To me, that’s a big deal, and that’s what we can still do. There’s about 120 teams in 5A girls and we could be one of 32 still playing after Saturday.”