WARREN, Pa. – With just over a week to go in the regular season, the Warren Lady Dragons are starting to peak.
(Warren’s Gracie Ruhlman. File photo by Jeff Parkin.)
In the blink of an eye, they jumped out to a 9-0 lead over General McLane and never looked back en route to a 52-25 victory on Monday.
“We just have to come out and knock down our shots,” said junior point guard Riley Childress, who did just that, draining a 3 to start the game. “It’s very important because the beginning of the game can determine how the end is going to go, too. We came out and we did really well.”
Three different Lady Dragons (15-3 overall, 7-3 Region 6) – Childress, Emma Ruhlman and Kelsey Stuart came out and hit shots to start the game, as the lead swelled to 10 by the end of the first, 16-6.
“It’s one of the things we’ve been trying to work on, actually,” said Warren coach Lisa LaVan. “We’ve had some slow starts. We don’t like the way we come out. Our first three baskets were three different people. It was great. We’re starting to gel at the right time. In the first quarter, it’s important to jump on teams and we were able to do that.”
The quick start turned into a full-on clinic for four quarters.
Childress had a hand in all but one basket in the second quarter, knocking down a pair of 3’s and assisting on buckets by Gracie Ruhlman, Stuart and Emma Ruhlman.
“It’s so nice when I see my teammates and I’m like ‘this is going to be a good pass,’” Childress said.
Emma Ruhlman had a great shooting night herself, draining two 3’s in each half.
The lead grew as big as 31 in the third quarter, as Stuart, Emma Ruhlman and Gracie Ruhlman all hit triples
For the game, Warren hit 10 shots from beyond the arc.
“More than anything, it’s been an up and down year. We got on a little bit of a run and then we lost Kelsey,” noted LaVan “Then we patched her (Kelsey Stuart) back in. More than anything it’s just them being able to play together and rely on each other.
“People worry about Riley, they worry about Emma, what they don’t understand is that we have a lot of other great players. We have other kids on the floor that are more than capable, I think Kelsey and Teagan are starting to take offense to that and are really stepping up.”
Childress also agrees that they are starting to gel at the perfect time.
“Me, Kelsey, Emma and Teagan have been playing together for so long,” she said. “We never all got to start at the same time until last year, and now we’re getting used to it.”
Childress took a hard spill in the fourth quarter but bounced right back up.
If any play personifies the toughness of the Lady Dragons, it was that one.
“She’s a tough kid,” LaVan said. “Our Erie game, I couldn’t believe some of the stuff that she was getting in on. She’s not afraid. All my girls are like that. We play hard and play physical and did a great job of that tonight.”
Emma Ruhlman finished with a team-high 18 points, while Childress had 15 and Stuart nine. Ruhlman added eight rebounds and Childress six assists
LaVan also praised the effort of Gracie Ruhlman, Paris, Sammie Ruhlman, Halle Kuzminski and Cara Munksgard.
Emily Hess had 14 of McLane’s (2-5, 2-4) 25 points.
The Lady Dragons will turn right around and travel to play the Lancers again on Tuesday at GM. It will be part of a doubleheader for McLane, which will play Titusville at 6 p.m. before hosting the Lady Dragons.
“It’s odd,” LaVan said. “It’s an odd year. We just roll with the punches.”