Warren's Gracie Ruhlman. Photo courtesy Mark Evans.

Lady Dragons Hope for Another Deep Postseason Run

February 25, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – This season was always going to look different for the Warren Lady Dragons, but one constant has stayed the same – winning.

Warren (16-6) earned the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A playoffs, meeting No. 6 Grove City (10-10) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (Meadville H.S.).

Riley Childress and Emma Ruhlman, 4-year starters, 1,000-point scorers, and key cogs for a program that won the D10 title in three of their four seasons, graduate last year, with Ruhlman moving on to Hillsdale and Childress Roberts Wesleyan at the college level.

This young Lady Dragons team with just one senior, Gracie Ruhlman, has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the season.

“We’re all very excited,” Gracie Ruhlman said. “I’m nervous because I don’t know when my last game is going to be now. I think we’re ready.”

See Ruhlman’s full interview:

Ruhlman has seen the maturation process of the team firsthand.

“Our offense has gotten so much better and our defense has always been what wins us games,” Ruhlman said. “Overall I think the freshman and sophomores definitely became smarter over the year, and even our juniors have become smarter and are making better choices than they did early in the season.

Juniors Halle Kuzminski and Sammie Ruhlman have also taken on more of a leadership role as well.

“We lacked leadership early and lacked it often, but that’s one thing that really stepped up for us. Sammie and Halle have really stepped up as leaders and Gracie has always been a leader, even last year, but she just leads differently. She’s a silent leader.”

Younger players like sophomores Alyssa Farr, Alana Stuart, and Emily Davidson and freshmen Peyton Wotorson and Meea Irwin have all grown into bigger roles for a program that continues to operate at a high level.

Because of that success, they know they are always going to get other teams’ best shot, and that includes Grove City.

“We talk about it a lot, it’s the burden you carry being a part of this program,” LaVan said. “We’ve established ourselves as one of the stronger teams in District 10 and what goes with that is that teams are going to come at you. Teams want to give you their best. It means something to beat us and that says a lot about our program and what we’ve built.”

The winner of Warren-Grove City will play the winner of No. 2 Harbor Creek and No. 7 General McLane game in the semifinals, while the other quarterfinal games pit No. 1 Fairview against No. 8 Hickory and No. 4 Conneaut against No. 5 Franklin.

“It’s about 100 percent how I thought it would go,” LaVan said. “I had a sneaking suspicion it would be Grove City for us, just based on I’ve been here long enough to see how it works. I think we’re right where we should be.

“Grove City is big and physical. That’s what jumps off film. They’re going to come at us. We’re familiar with them. They have a couple of players who can really put the ball in the hole so we have to be ready with the defensive game plan.”

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