A special team, a special young woman

Warren’s Margo Loutzenhiser and Taylor Childress (1) celebrate as the final seconds tick off the clock.

What does it take to be a great player?

The truth is, there is a lot that goes into the DNA of the great ones.

Natural ability? Sure. A work ethic and competitive drive bordering on obsession? Absolutely.

Those are obvious.

But a great player to me, more than anything else, is a great teammate and elevates the play of those around them.

Warren’s Margo Loutzenhiser fights through a trio of Villa defenders.

That’s the difference between being a great player and a great talent.

Make no mistake, Margo Loutzenhiser is a great player. The Warren Area High School senior became the program’s all-time leading scorer against Villa on Monday night.

The way she did so should come as no surprise, in what was a statement win for the Lady Dragons, 50-37.

She scored a game-high 23 points, but what may have been even more impressive were her 7 assists, three of which came in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.

“That’s where Margo has grown, leaps and bounds,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “She’s always had a scorer’s mentality and she always will. Sometimes people look at that as being selfish. It’s not. Everybody has a way they play the game, and her way was to score. This year, she trusts, she’s so confident with her teammates. The team has this bond that I’ve just never had before as a group. That’s pretty special. And she trusts them.”

Warren’s Margo Loutzenhiser embraces teammate Alanna Hultberg after breaking the program scoring record.

It’s a program that has a rich tradition and has been elevated by great players and great coaches.

And it’s arguably the best it has ever been.

“We have a square mile bullseye now,” LaVan said. “For so many years in this program we were the underdog and no one thought much of us.

“It’s pretty cool to have a player like this. Margo’s more than a player to me, all my players are. Margo and I have a pretty cool bond. To share this together is pretty sweet. And to have my daughter to share it with.”

Loutzenhiser began her career as a freshman playing a key role on a team that won the program’s first-ever District 10 title.

She played with her sister Maddie, as well as seniors D.J. Hahn, Paige Wilson and Lizzy Marsh, and they taught her many lessons along the way.

Now it’s her turn, as she passes that knowledge along to LaVan’s daughter, Emma Ruhlman, and the rest of her teammates.

“I’m so proud of them,” Loutzenhiser said.

Her freshman season, she learned a lot while playing a supporting role, but now, she’s the star of the show and would like nothing more than to lead this team to another championship, which would be a bookend for her marvelous career and yet another notch in the belt of a program that has become one of D-10’s best.

One of LaVan’s assistants, Taylor Mineweaser, was a player the last time Warren had a win like this in the regular season, against Mercyhurst Prep.

“It was nice having Taylor on the bench, she experienced that when we beat Mercyhurst Prep,” LaVan said. “I said does this feel like Mercyhurst Prep? ‘Oh God know this is way better,'” was Mineweaser’s response.

And this program-elevating win came with so much more.

Watching Margo share that moment with her coaches, teammates and beautiful family was something special and something I certainly won’t forget.

Special night, special team and a special young woman.