Amazing season for Warren girls comes to an end at the hands of Oakland Catholic

Warren senior Margo Loutzenhiser flies through the lane on the way to 2 of her game-high 22 points against Oakland Catholic in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs on Saturday at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse, as teammate Teagan Paris (23) looks on. Loutzenhiser departs as the Lady Dragons’ all-time leading scorer (1,620) and is one of just three players in Warren County history to score more than 1,600 points in her career (John Bowen, Elisha Jones).

EDINBORO, Pa. – Coming in to Saturday’s PIAA Class 5A First Round game, the Warren Lady Dragons knew they would have to keep Oakland Catholic’s top three scorers in check to win.

Those three – Sierra DeAngelo, Alexis Sestric and Jayde Boyd – combined to score 42 points as the Eagles led wire-to-wire in a 60-45 win over the Dragons. A 20-9 first quarter lead for OC set the tone.

“I think it was a bit of a shock to us the way they jumped on us,” Warren coach Lisa LaVan said. “They’ve got length and speed and got down the floor. We were not good getting back on defense.”

That quick transition, combined with Warren (22-4) missing some early shots, helped OC (21-4) get out to a 12-2 lead.

“I think some of it was nerves,” LaVan said. “Some of our early stuff was just not falling.”

Warren freshman point guard Riley Childress looks in to sophomore guard Kelsey Stuart during Saturday’s PIAA Class 5A game against Oakland Catholic at Edinboro University.

To wit, five of the Dragons nine points in the quarter came on free throws. Senior Margo Loutzenhiser had the only two field goals in the quarter.

Boyd knocked down a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, but Warren started to find itself offensively. Senior Alanna Hultberg hit a mid-range jumper and, after another Boyd 3-ball, Loutzenhiser connected again.

Back-to-back buckets by DeAngelo and Sestric pushed the lead to 30-13, but the Dragons began methodically chipping away at the advantage.

Teagan Paris and Riley Childress went back-to-back and Kelsey Stuart answered a DeAngelo field goal with one of her own to make it 32-19 with 2:30 to play in the first half. A Margaret Terry deep ball made it 37-20 with just over a minute to go, but Childress hit a 3-pointer and dropped another bucket to cut it to 37-25 at the half.

“We started to pick up the pace a bit,” LaVan said. “We made a WPIAL team go into a zone and the zone threw us off a little bit. But it’s pretty cool we made them go zone to defend us.”

Warren senior Alanna Hultberg (left) and freshman Emma Ruhlman react after the Lady Dragons cut into Oakland Catholic’s lead during the third quarter of Saturday’s PIAA Class 5A state playoff game at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse.

As she has done so often throughout her record-breaking career, Loutzenhiser put the team on her back in the third quarter. She scored the first four points of the frame and had eight of the Dragons 13 third-quarter points.

With the Eagles leading 45-33 with just under three minutes to go, Loutzenhiser hit a field goal then Emma Ruhlman converted a traditional 3-point play to cut the lead to 45-38 and force an OC timeout with 1:24 to play in the quarter.

Following the timeout, DeAngleo got the ball just off the top of the key. With an open look, the 6-foot Fairleigh Dickinson signee put up a shot and drained a 3-pointer to close the third quarter with a 48-38 Eagles advantage.

“We knew (Sestric) and (Boyd) were shooters and (DeAngleo) can knock down open shots,” LaVan said. “She’s going D-1 for a reason.”

DeAngelo made the first field goal of the fourth quarter, but Ruhlman and Loutzenhiser went back-to-back to cut the lead to 50-42 with 6:09 to go. Oakland Catholic called another timeout and Anna Sproule hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to start an 8-0 Eagles run over the next four minutes.

Warren junior Taylor Childress looks to make a pass while being defended by Oakland Catholic’s Margaret Terry during the first half of Saturday’s PIAA playoff game at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse.

DeAngelo finished with a team-high 19 points. Sestric had 13 and Boyd and Sproule each finished with 10.

Loutzenhiser had a game-high 22. Childress had nine and Ruhlman five for the Dragons.

Loutzenhiser scored the final three points for the Dragons. It was fitting, in a way, that the final points of her Lady Dragons career would come at the free throw line since she hit the 1,000-point milestone and set the program points record with free throws. She ends her illustrious career with 1,620 points, becoming just the third Warren County player to surpass the 1,600 point plateau (John Bowen and Elisha Jones).

With just over a minute to play, LaVan and her staff made the decision to bring both Loutzenhiser and Hultberg off the floor. Both received standing ovations from the Warren fans in attendance.

“That was tough,” LaVan said. “We debated whether to bring them out or let them stay on the floor. All good things must come to an end, but we always say, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ Sierra (Matson)’s a good kid and Alanna’s a beast. Margo is the best player in program history, in my opinion.”

Warren’s Alanna Hultberg rips a loose ball away from Oakland Catholic’s Alexis Sestric during the first half of Saturday’s PIAA playoff game at Edinboro University’s McComb Fieldhouse.

Though the 2018-19 Dragons weren’t able to get the program’s first state playoff victory, LaVan sees a very bright future ahead.

“In 11 years, we’ve built a culture and a program,” she said. “We’re tough, we work hard and we demad a lot. But there’s not one weak link in those 15 players. We’re a family and we love each other.”

All the players wished to send a special thank you to everyone who came out and supported them during their season and playoff run.

– – –

OAKLAND CATHOLIC (60)

Warren's Kelsey Stuart fights through a screen as she guards Oakland Catholic's Margaret Terry.

DeAngelo 9-0-0-19, Sestric 5-2-2-13, Boyd 4-0-1-10, Sproule 4-1-2-10, Pilewski 2-0-0-5, Terry 1-0-0-3, Team 25-3-5-60

WARREN (45)

Loutzenhiser 8-6-7-22, R. Childress 3-2-2-9, Ruhlman 2-1-1-5, Hultberg 2-0-0-4, Stuart 1-1-2-3, Paris 1-0-0-2, Matson 0-0-0-0, T. Childress 0-0-0-0, Madigan 0-0-0-0, Team 17-10-12-45

By quarters

Oakland Catholic 20 17 11 12 – 60

Warren

9 16 13 7 – 45

3-point FGs: Oakland Catholic (7) – Boyd 2, Sestric, Pilewski, Terry, DeAngelo, Sproule. Warren (1) – R. Childress.

Warren's Des Bowman, Taylor Kraft and Cara Munksgard celebrate during the third quarter of Saturday's PIAA playoff game.

Warren coach Lisa LaVan greets her daughter, Emma Ruhlman, just before the start of Saturday's PIAA playoff game against Oakland Catholic.

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