Special senior

Loutzenhiser poised to lead young, talented Lady Dragons

Warren senior Margo Loutzenhiser.

In the taut final moments of the Warren girls basketball team’s District 10 title-clinching win against McDowell in February of 2016, a young freshman stood out, dishing out a key assist in the fourth quarter to help the program to its first District 10 title.

In that moment, and probably long before that if truth be told, it was clear that Margo Loutzenhiser was destined to do great things on the basketball court.

Flash forward three years later and Loutzenhiser, now a senior getting set to tip off her final season in a Warren uniform tonight, is an unquestioned leader. She surpassed 1,000 career points as a junior, and is poised to become the all-time leading scorer in program history.

She has signed to play collegiately for coach Jim Brunelli and Gannon, part of a star-studded recruiting class.

“Once I got to middle school and started playing AAU – probably fifth or sixth grade is when I really got going,” she said about where her love of the game began.

Of course, being competitive is something that you’re born into as a Loutzenhiser.

The youngest of Ed and Sue Loutzenhiser’s three daughters, Margo spent a lot of time around her older sisters, Meghan and Maddie.

“I’d always be around them and I feel like that’s when it all started,” Margo said. “My whole family is around sports.”

It’s also why she was already considered a part of the program long before her first official practice as a freshman.

“When Meg was a senior, Margo was in eighth grade,” said Warren head coach Lisa LaVan. “She would hang around us all the time. Meghan would be shooting and she’d be rebounding for Meg and she’d get up more shots than Meg half the time. Meghan would end up rebounding for her. And the same with Maddie.”

Meghan was a freshman at Edinboro University when she saw her older sisters (Maddie, then a junior) win that D-10 title. And while Meghan and Maddie were standout softball players as well, Margo wanted to focus on basketball.

“Margo wanted to be a little bit different,” LaVan said. “I think she wanted to pave her own way a little bit.”

For Margo, playing a complementary role as a freshman proved to be of tremendous value. She learned from the likes of D.J. Hahn and Paige Wilson (both standout athletes at Cal U., Hahn in basketball and Wilson in softball) about competing at the highest level.

“I learned a lot of little things from Paige and DJ and those guys,” Margo said of the senior class at the time, which also included Lizzy Marsh. “Just being the freshman … they were seniors. Instead of playing JV I was playing with them and thrown into the fire.”

Now, the roles are reversed, with Margo serving as the leader for a deep and talented freshman class, a role that she excels in.

“I love my freshmen,” she said with a smile. “I love that they’re up here doing what I once did. It only took like one or two practices for them to settle in. I told them not to act like the young dogs, you’re up here for a reason.”

And perhaps some of them will one day be in the position that she has put herself in. A tireless work ethic, which she says she gets from her parents (‘my dad drilled it into my head’), coupled with her tremendous ability, led her to Gannon.

“I really like the coaching staff,” she said.

“They have great academics and I want to business administration. I’m doing dual enrollment right now so I should be able to get my MBA in four years. It’s best for my career in the long run.”

Before she gets there, however, there are still plenty of things to achieve, namely getting back in a position to potentially win another District 10 title.

“That was my most memorable moment,” she said. “I loved my freshman year. It was a team accomplishment. Other than that, for individual, scoring my 1,000th point was pretty special. It wasn’t just a milestone for me, it was for my team. Even for my dad. We’d go to the Y and put a lot of hours in. It meant a lot to him.”

Away from the court, she is very active, enjoying hunting and fishing, many times with Lisa and her husband, Tim.

Active and competitive – that’s a Loutzenhiser.

“I don’t know what Sue and Ed did in that household, but they should write a book on it,” said LaVan. “The competitive nature that those three girls have should be taught to every female in America, hands down.”

So, who is the most competitive of the three?

Well they all are, in their own way.

“I would say Meg was pretty competitive in softball,” Margo said.

“We were just competitive in different things. I’m definitely the most in basketball. I guess I would say me. I’m pretty competitive. Maddie is too. Maddie’s stubborn.”

But don’t mistake that competitiveness for what she’s like away from the court.

It’s something that her coaches hold near and dear, as does anyone who is lucky enough to know her.

“I’d be a little selfish,” said LaVan. “I don’t want people to know the real Margo, because I know her. I like to hold that close to me. She has a big heart. A lot of people don’t see that side of her. She is the hardest worker that I’ve ever had, and has the biggest heart. The freshmen have a phenomenal leader in her.”

Added assistant coach John White: “She’s a better person than she is a basketball player … by a long shot.”

That’s Margo Loutzenhiser.

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