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Lady Dragons drop Tip-Off title game to Mercyhurst Prep

Warren’s Riley Childress locks in on defense against Mercyhurst Prep’s Lilli Rose Lang during Saturday’s Lady Dragon Tip-Off Tournament championship game.

These are the games you want to play.

Warren coach Lisa LaVan has said it time and again about early-season tests. And despite her young team dropping a 52-40 decision to a talented and senior-laden Mercyhurst Prep in the 7th annual Lady Dragon Tip-Off Tournament title game, there is plenty to be excited about.

“These are the games, you live for these kinds of games,” LaVan said. “These are the ones you want. We’re really young and you’re probably going to hear that a lot from me this year. You saw it. We can have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”

The highs in this game came in the form of a 16-point first quarter. The lows were a 10-2 run by the Lakers to start the second half that gave the visitors a 15-point lead that Warren couldn’t claw back from.

As far as offensive production goes, it was a whole lot of the sophomore duo of Emma Ruhlman and Riley Childress. Ruhlman had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Childress 17 points.

Warren’s Carly Beers looks to make a pass while being defended by Mercyhurst Prep’s Alissa Bailey.

As their coach is quick to point out, however, they have a ton of basketball experience under their belt already.

“They are definitely experienced and don’t’ play like sophomores,” she said. “We’re lucky to have them.”

Childress scored seven of the first nine points for the Lady Dragons, and a 3 from freshman Gracie Ruhlman gave Warren (1-1) its biggest lead of the game at 15-11.

Tournament MVP Kaitlyn Pasko hit a pair of 3s in the first quarter to keep the Lakers within striking distance.

Prep’s defense was stifling

in the second quarter, and several second-chance opportunities allowed them to build a 27-20 halftime lead.

The 10-2 run to start the second half gave them a comfortable working margin, but the Lady Dragons didn’t go down without a fight.

Ruhlman had nine-straight points to start the fourth quarter and a drive from Childress got them within 9, 47-38, with 3:14 to play, but they wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

Pasko finished with 16 to lead Prep (2-0).

The fact is, this is a really young Lady Dragon team with just one senior in Taylor Childress, a junior in Teagan Paris and three freshman – Gracie Ruhlman, Carly Beers and Ella Ordiway playing big minutes.

LaVan anticipates that they will only continue to grow.

“There’s this in-between called JV that’s supposed to prep you for varsity, but fortunately for some of our freshmen, they have the opportunity to get those varsity minutes and they are capable of that. The physicallty is so much different, from a freshman to a senior. We need them to step up and they are capable of it.”

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MERCYHURST PREP (52)

Bly 4-2-5-12, Pasko 6-2-2-16, Thompson 2-1-2-6, Finazzo 2-0-3-5, Lang 1-0-0-2, Habursky 3-1-2-8, Bailey 0-1-2-1, Ferrick 1-0-0-2, Totals 19-7-16-52

WARREN (40)

T. Childress 0-0-0-0, R. Childress 6-5-5-17, E. Ruhlman 8-2-4-20, Paris 0-0-0-0, G. Ruhlman 1-0-0-3, C. Beers 0-0-0-0, Ordiway 0-0-0-0, Totals 15-7-9-40

By Quarters

Mercyhurst Prep 14 13 16 9 – 52

Warren 16 4 7 13 – 40

Three-point FGs: Mercyhurst Prep (7) – Bly 2, Pasko 2, Thompson, Finazzo, Habursky

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