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Opening Night

Thus far in their young careers, Emma Ruhlman has garnered more accolades than Riley Childress for the Warren girls basketball team.

A little friendly competition never hurt anybody.

Childress upstaged Ruhlman in the Dragons’ 2021 season opener Friday afternoon, scoring 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter as Warren jumped out to a huge early lead and breezed to a 58-24 nonleague victory over Franklin.

“We scrimmaged them and Riley wasn’t there for the scrimmage. They were a bit surprised I’m sure seeing her,” Warren head coach Lisa LaVan said. “Riley knocks down shots, she plays great defense … she just does the whole gamut.”

Ruhlman followed with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while Kelsey Stuart had 8 points for the Dragons (1-0).

“Night in and night out it’s going to be her or it’s going to be Emma,” LaVan said of Childress and Ruhlman. “The two of them are basketball players and they do a great job of it.”

Camdon Bashor led the Knights (0-1) with 7 points.

Coming off its second straight Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association playoff appearance, Warren started fast by taking a 7-0 lead in the opening four minutes.

Childress then converted a conventional three-point play with just under two minutes remaining, Sammie Ruhlman converted a transition bucket and Childress hit her second 3-pointer of the opening eight minutes with 1:02 showing on the clock for a 15-0 lead.

Bashor and Lauren Billingsley made back-to-back buckets to put Franklin on the board before the quarter ended.

Five different Dragons scored in the second quarter, including Emma Ruhlman’s first bucket of the season, as the hosts led 26-13 at halftime.

“Defense has been our focus. We lost focus of that last year and I was a little annoyed with that. We’ve been really focused on that,” LaVan said. “We make our leaders — Emma, Riley, Kelsey and Teagan (Paris) — really take ownership of that. Everybody likes offense, it’s the glam, but the defense is the hard part.”

A 2020 Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class 5A third-team all-state selection, Ruhlman closed the game strong with 13 of her 15 points coming in the final 16 minutes as the Dragons put the game away.

The Warren jayvee team also had an impressive debut with a 55-11 victory behind 21 points from Halle Kuzminski and 14 from Sammie Ruhlman.

“The jayvees set a great tempo for us,” LaVan said. ” … Sammie Ruhlman and Halle Kuzminski did a nice job, two freshmen who did great in the JV game and they were really able to carry over some of that success into the varsity game.”

LaVan’s team will not have much time to recover as they will welcome Maplewood to town this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

“We were supposed to play today, Saturday and Monday. … No objections,” LaVan said. “We’ll take anything we can get right now. The girls have been really wanting to get back. It was awesome.”

In a season during which practice started months ago — then was stopped — and just resumed Monday, LaVan isn’t too concerned about her team’s ability to put up another quality performance.

“I was pleased tonight with the conditioning. I thought it looked good,” LaVan said. “I could tell they didn’t just eat donuts for the last three weeks while they were off. It was nice to see that they were working out and doing what they need to do. Four days is not a lot to get them back going to where they needed to be. I was proud of them.”

NOTES: Childress handed out six assists in the win.

FRANKLIN (24)

Basher 3 1 7, Billingsley 1 2 4, Hartle 1 0 3, Phipps 2 1 5, LaJeunesse 0 0 0, Adams 1 0 3, Ekis 1 0 2. Totals 9 4 24.

WARREN (58)

SRuhlman 2 0 4, Kuzminski 1 0 2, CBeers 1 0 2, Childress 7 2 19, Stuart 2 2 8, ERuhlman 6 2 15, Paris 1 0 2, GRuhlman 2 1 5, Munksgard 0 1 1. Totals 22 8 58.

3-point goals–Hartle, Adams, Childress 3, ERuhlman.

Franklin 4 9 6 5 — 24

Warren 15 11 15 17 — 58

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