WARREN, Pa. – The Warren girls didn’t get off to a blazing start in the first quarter of their District 10 Class 5A quarterfinal game against Franklin, but found their rhythm in the final three frames to advance to the semifinals with a 39-23 victory.
(Warren’s Emma Ruhlman gets a shot away just beyond the outstretched arm of Franklin’s Camdon Bashor during the first quarter of their District 10 Class 5A quarterfinal playoff game at Warren Area High School Saturday, March 6, 2021.)
The Dragons (20-3) missed on their first 11 field goal attempts, but the defense was able to hold the Knights (8-14) off the board as well for most of the first quarter.
“I think they were too hyped,” Warren coach Lisa LaVan said. “Plus with Franklin pounding the air out of the ball, they were trying too hard to run down the floor.”
Franklin won the opening tip and held the ball for more than a minute, but couldn’t come away with points. Neither team was able to get on the board until Warren’s Emma Ruhlman knocked down a pair of free throws at the 4:30 mark.
Jamie Blum hit a 3-pointer on the Knights’ next possession to put Franklin ahead 3-2. Both teams went scoreless again for the next two-plus minutes until Riley Childress buried a three with just over 1:20 to play. Blum hit her second long-ball late in the quarter to give Franklin a 6-5 edge heading to the second.
Kelsey Stuart and Ruhlman hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to start the second quarter and put the Dragons on top, 11-6. A pair of transition buckets late in the half stretched the Warren lead to 17-10 and Teagan Paris went 2-2 from the line with 3.3 seconds left to make it 19-12 at halftime.
Ruhlman and Childress connected from deep to get the third quarter started and push the Warren lead to double digits, 25-12. The Dragons worked methodically on offense and clamped down defensively as they held the Knights to just two points in the quarter.
The teams matched each other with nine points apiece in the final stanza as Warren sealed the win. Stuart spoke about the win following the contest.
Ruhlman led the Dragons with 16 points and eight rebounds and five steals, and Childress had 14 points and four assists.
Blum and Camdon Bashor had eight points each for Franklin.
The Dragons will face a familiar foe in the semifinals as they welcome Harbor Creek to the Joseph A. Massa gymnasium on Wednesday. Warren topped Harbor Creek twice in the regular season. Tipoff for the semifinal contest is scheduled for 7 p.m.