Leading lady: Margo Loutzenhiser becomes Warren girls’ all-time scoring leader, pushes Dragons to monumental win over Villa
Those in attendance at Joseph A. Massa Gymnasium witnessed one of the all-time great team performances in school history on a record-breaking night for one of the best to ever put on the blue and white in any sport.
Early in the fourth-quarter, with Warren leading powerhouse Villa Maria 40-35, Margo Loutzenhiser stepped to the line for a 1-and-1.
Two shots later, she departed as the program’s all-time leading scorer and started a 10-0 run that lifted the Lady Dragons (17-1) to a signature win, 50-37.
“It doesn’t even feel real,” Loutzenhiser said afterwards.
The game stopped, as Loutzenhiser shared the moment with her teammates and her family after surpassing
“It was emotional,” she said. “I’m a crier, I get that from my mom. “It was definitely special. It doesn’t even feel like it happened, then everyone’s rushing you and cheering for you. It’s just emotional.
“Emma (Ruhlman) and Alanna (Hultberg) during the free throw, they were looking at each other like ‘she’s about to get it.’ I was thinking ‘thanks guys, thanks for making me a little more nervous.’
But she didn’t show any nerves, something that came as no surprise to her coach, Lisa LaVan.
“I don’t know if there’s enough words for how I feel and what I feel about her,” LaVan said. “I knew she’d get it, once she had the season she had last year, going over 1,000. For me, anytime one of my kids can get a record like that, why wouldn’t you as a coach do everything in your power to help them get that? It’s all Margo and her hard work. I have yet to have a player that works and wants more than her.”
It was an amazing game in so many ways, not the least of which was the fact that it was a complete turnaround from the first meeting, a 55-20 win for Villa that remains Warren’s only loss on the season.
Per the Erie Times-News, this was Villa’s (15-3) first loss to a District 10 opponent since a 35-33 setback to Mercyhurst Prep on Jan. 29, 2015, just over four years ago.
“I just told my team that it doesn’t even seem like I broke that record,” Loutzenhiser said. “We’re just so excited to beat Villa. That’s huge for our program and for our confidence.”
The game was back-and-forth for three quarters. The biggest lead either team had was six, a 6-0 run to start the game for Warren.
Villa led 20-19 at halftime, but the Dragons came out and scored the first six points of the half on Riley Childress bucket, a pair of free throws by Loutzenhiser and an offensive putback from the senior guard.
They never trailed again, although Villa didn’t go away.
Cassidy Creager had an offensive putback to get Villa back within 4, 29-25 at the third quarter buzzer.
But, with Loutzenhiser two points away from the record, the freshman Ruhlman took over, scoring 10-straight points for the Lady Dragons.
Ruhlman’s 3 made it 36-27, and her first three buckets during the run were all assisted by Loutzenhiser.
Villa’s Hannah Labonte and Rachel Majewski hit a pair of 3’s to keep Villa within striking distance, 40-35, but that’s when Loutzenhiser went to the line, broke the record, and that wave of emotion carried them to the finish line.
“It was funny, yesterday Lisa is going over the game plan, and we’re like alright, whatever happened last time didn’t work, so we were open to trying something new,” Loutzenhiser said. “We knew it would take everything we have and it did.”
Whether it was Ruhlman, Taylor and Riley Childress, Hultberg, Sierra Matson or Teagan Paris, they were in total rhythm, so much so that their coach didn’t have to say much.
“I actually sat down a lot tonight,” LaVan said with a smile.
Added Loutzenhiser: “Looking at Emma, Riley and Taylor, asking what defense you want to do, what do you think will work. Just talking going down the court … just cool to have that moment. It’s awesome seeing Emma and Riley (both freshmen) grow the way they did.”
The performance from Loutzenhiser in a record-breaking effort was the stuff of legends. To go along with her game-high 23 points, she had 11 rebounds, dished out 7 assists and had two steals.
Ruhlman finished with 17 points, Riley Childress three steals and Hultberg two steals.
Majewski ripped down nine rebounds to go along with her team-high 19 points.
It was a monumental night, a historic night and perhaps a precursor of even more great moments to come.
“The beautiful thing is that I know when we come in the gym tomorrow, we’re going to be excited, but everyone is going to be ready to get back at it,” Loutzenhiser said. “We have that next goal. We always talk about goals. We just keep breaking through those walls. We’re hungry right now. That’s what’s awesome about it.”
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Majewski 4-0-0-9, Labonte 2-0-0-5, Waid 1-0-0-3, Cross 1-4-6-7, Kelly 1-0-0-3, Creager 3-0-0-6, Denny 1-0-0-2 , McKnight 1-0-0-2, Totals 14-4-6-37
Loutzenhiser 4-15-16-23, T. Childress 0-0-0-0, Hultberg 1-0-0-2, R. Childress 1-2-3-4, Ruhlman 7-2-2-17, Matson 1-0-0-2, Paris 1-0-0-2, Totals 15-19-21-50
Villa 9 11 5 12 – 37
Warren 11 8 10 21 – 50
Three-point FGs: Villa (5) – Kelly, Majewski, Cross, Labonte, Waid; Warren (1) – Ruhlman