Lady Dragons Hold off Maplewood for Tournament Title

Warren's Emma Ruhlman and Riley Childress (background). Photo by Mark Evans.

WARREN, Pa. – Warren built a 16-point lead early in the second half and held off a Maplewood rally for a 48-43 win in the championship game of the 9th annual Warren Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday.

Riley Childress and Emma Ruhlman scored 13 points apiece in the victory.

Sammie Ruhlman scored six points and played outstanding defense in the win on her way to earning Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Game honors.

Emma Ruhlman was named the tournament’s offensive MVP, while Childress earned defensive MVP honors and Sammie Ruhlman was also named to the all-tournament team along with Maplewood’s Bailey Varndell and Sadie Thomas, Keystone’s Natalie Bowser and Jamestown’s Jillian McElhinney.

“They were a very tough team,” Sammie Ruhlman said. “The second half they went up because they out-toughed us. The key was to match their level and we did toward the end.”

Warren’s offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first half as they built a 34-20 advantage thanks to 11 points from Emma Ruhlman, nine from Childress and four each from Sammie and Gracie Ruhlman, as well as a 3 from Lindsey Madigan.

Maplewood clawed its way back into the game thanks in large part to Thomas, who finished with a game-high 22 points.

For the youngest of the three Ruhlman sisters, this weekend was her first opportunity to play in front of a full home gym after not being able to last season when she was a freshman.

“It was really fun she said,” This year it’s just like being a freshman again and having all those fans and it was very cool. It really helped.”

Rewatch the game:

Maplewood outscored Warren 10-4 in the fourth quarter and 23-16 for the second half, but coach Lisa LaVan was happy about her team’s ability to grind out a win.

“I think it comes down to we got up, we got a lead, we got a little too confident in my opinion and we started running out of legs,” she said. “We’re playing at a faster pace and a faster tempo and we’re just not there yet. Hats off to Maplewood. They grind and they’re tough.

“Good teams find a way to win. We’re still young. I thought Sammie stepped up and played a phenomenal game for us. It’s good to be pushed a little bit. We need that. We need to be able to get nervous. I know Emma and Riley weren’t happy with the effort overall, but they’re hungry.”

Sammie also spoke about her confidence growing from her freshman to now her sophomore season.

“I feel like my confidence has definitely grown and that wasn’t really me, that was just everyone telling me that Halle (Kuzminski) and I are going to be keys for this year. That and going to the gym with Emma and having my older sister there.”

Kuzminski finished with four points, Alana Stuart and Lindsay Madigan three.

Warren returns to action on Tuesday at Bradford.

Eisenhower, Youngsville and Warren basketball coverage is sponsored by Ellwood National Forge.