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Playoff matinee

Warren battles General McLane today

Photo by Mark Evans Warren’s Sammie Ruhlman (1) and the rest of the Lady Dragons will meet General McLane at 2:30 p.m. today at Mercyhurst University in the quarterfinals of the District 10 4A girls basketball playoffs.

Warren’s girls basketball team “has a drive about them,” according to head coach Lisa LaVan. After having won Region 5 and their last 13 regular-season games, the Lady Dragons are shifting gears, traveling to Mercyhurst University today to play General McLane at 2:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the District 10 4A playoffs.

“Winning the region title outright was goal number one,” said LaVan. “They are now moving on to that next goal of winning our fifth D10 championship.”

This group has almost everyone back from a season ago in which the Dragons went 18-8 with a Region 5 title and trip to the PIAA Championships with a District 10 consolation-game win.

Seniors Sammie Ruhlman and Halle Kuzminski are returning first-team region all-stars and soon-to-be college basketball players. Last season’s co-Region 5 Player of the Year, Ruhlman — who averages 10.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists — has signed to play for D’Youville University and Kuzminski — averaging 8.6 points and 6.5 rebounds — for Penn State Altoona.

Juniors Alana Stuart and Alyssa Farr average 7.7 and 7.5 points, respectively, and Stuart six rebounds and three-and-a-half assists.

Photo by Mark Evans Warren’s Halle Kuzminski (4) and the rest of the Lady Dragons will meet General McLane at 2:30 p.m. today at Mercyhurst University in the quarterfinals of the District 10 4A girls basketball playoffs.

Sophomores Meea Irwin, Emma Roell and Peyton Wotorson are also among Warren’s seven returning letter winners with Irwin averaging 6.3 points and five rebounds, Wotorson 5 points, and Roell 2 points.

They have the playoff experience, with region and D10 titles, plus four straight state playoff appearances for the seniors, but that’s not all that drives them. They’ve bought into the process.

“This team has been so fun to coach,” said LaVan. “They have a drive about them that is just different. They are very laid-back, but at the same time are so driven on their goals. … They have a unique bond and these 12 girls would do anything for each other. That is pretty special to watch.”

For that to continue, the second-seeded Dragons (18-4) have to get past No. 7 McLane (8-14).

“GM is a physical team that gets after it,” said LaVan. “This will not be an easy out. Their region has been tough. We have to be ready to play from the start. Their top scorer, Libby Opp, gets after it and we need to do our best to slow her down. If we do play Warren Lady Dragon basketball, we will be good to go.”

The winner of Warren-McLane will meet the winner of No. 3 Harbor Creek (12-9) and No. 6 Grove City (16-6) in the semifinals. Harbor Creek-Grove City follows Warren’s game at Mercyhurst University.

On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Fairview (17-5) out of Region 6 meets No. 8 Corry (9-12) at 2:30 p.m. today at Cathedral Prep’s Hagerty Center. No. 4 Conneaut (15-7) will play No. 5 Franklin (14-8) at 4 p.m. today at Meadville Area Senior High School.

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