Slippery Rock shoots lights out in semifinal win over Lady Dragons
MEADVILLE – Early in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s District 10 Class 5A semifinal game between Warren and Slippery Rock, the Lady Rockets’ Macy McCall stumbled in the lane and threw up a shot that somehow found its way in.
It was that kind of shooting night for Slippery Rock, as they knocked off the Lady Dragons 75-60 at Meadville High School thanks to a brilliant shooting display.
“They didn’t miss many,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “We knew they were pretty good shooters, I didn’t think they were THAT good though. We knew 10 (Emma McDermott) was and she got hot early. Three’s are contagious, and they were for them tonight.”
The loss overshadowed a fantastic offensive performance from Warren’s Margo Loutzenhiser, who scored a career-high 35 points, including four 3s and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
Slippery Rock (19-4) led by as many as 11 in the third quarter, but was never able to pull away until late.
Loutzenhiser, who had 19 points at halftime, scored 10 in the first four minutes of the third quarter, that, coupled with a layup by Rachel Wilson and a jumper from Morgan Lupole, kept Warren (12-12) within striking distance.
Back-to-back 3s by Anna Kadlubak extended the Lady Rockets lead, but a layup by Alanna Hultberg and consecutive buckets by Loutzenhiser got Warren back within four.
Kadlubak, however, responded with one of the biggest shots of the game, a 3 at the third quarter horn to put her team back up seven and take away the Lady Dragons’ momentum.
“They have very good movement off the ball and they were moving very well without the ball all night,” LaVan said. “We tried to mix up the defenses as much as we could, but once we started getting down, and the way they were defending us, we knew we were going to have to create our offense through our defense.”
Halle McCall took over in the fourth quarter for the Lady Rockets, converting three different offensive putbacks in the final eight minutes, part of a team-high 25 point effort, as the fatigue from trying to come back started to show for Warren.
Autumn Hultberg had a putback with 4:27 to go that made it 67-58, but McDermott, who scored 13 of Slippery Rock’s first 14 points of the game, drilled a 3 on the ensuing possession, which essentially was the nail in the coffin for the Lady Dragons.
“They killed us on the boards,” LaVan said. “I found this out five years ago, I always knew it as a player but never realized it as a coach until it slaps you in the face. Layups, free throws, rebounds … that’s ball games right there.”
Right from the get-go it was apparent that this was going to be an up-tempo game, as Loutzenhiser came out and connected on her first jumper, as did McDermott just moments later.
McDermott didn’t miss in the first eight minutes, as the Lady Rockets, whose 75 points was their second highest total of the season, jumped out to a 20-13 lead.
Slippery Rock extended the lead to 11 early in the second quarter, but an old-school 3-point play by Loutzenhiser, followed by a traditional 3 from the junior guard kept the game tight.
“That’s what players like Margo do,” LaVan said .“She had a great game. She showed why there’s a lot of colleges looking at her and want her. It was a very physical game and I know it took a toll on her. She played hard.”
Autumn Hultberg finished with 14 points for the Lady Dragons, while McDermott had 19 and McCall 16 for Slippery Rock.
The Lady Rockets advance to play Harbor Creek, a 45-39 winner over Hickory in the nightcap, for the District 10 title on Saturday. Warren and Hickory will battle in the third place game for the final remaining spot in states, also on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
“Whether it was good or bad tonight, we know we’re back in the gym tomorrow,” LaVan said. “We have to have a short-term memory and move on. We’re vying for one more spot to get to states, which would be an awesome thing and great for our program.”
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Childress 0-0-0-0, Al. Hultberg 1-1-3-3, Wilson 2-0-2-4, Loutzenhiser 10-11-11-35, Au. Hultberg 7-0-0-14, Stuart 0-0-0-0, Lupole 1-2-2-4, Citro 0-0-0-0, Wood 0-0-0-0, Totals 21-14-18-60
SLIPPERY ROCK (75)
McDermott 7-1-2-19, Raabe 10-5-5-25, Heitzenrater 0-0-0-0, McCall 5-4-5-16, Kadlubak 3-0-0-9, Ackerman 3-0-1-6, Totals 28-10-13-75
Slippery Rock 20 15 23 17 – 75
Three-point FGs: Warren (4) – Loutzenhiser 4; Slippery Rock (9) – McDermott 4, Kadlubak 3, McCall 2