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Knights edge Warwick in District prelims
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Win it for ‘B.’
That was the Warwick girls battle cry as they took on Hempfield in a District Three Quad-A preliminary-round game last Friday.
‘B,’ a.k.a. senior Bethany Zimmerman, was unavailable to play after turning her ankle in a scrimmage a couple of days earlier, but the Lady Warriors were hoping to get her back if they advanced past the Black Knights.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
In a close-fought game from the opening tip, Lauren Trower scored all four of her points in the final stanza, including a go-ahead layup with 1:41 remaining, and the Hempfield girls prevailed by a 36-32 decision in Landisville.
"We really wanted to win this for ‘B.’ I didn’t want this to be her last game as a senior … I really, really didn’t," Warwick coach Amy Derr said. "Those seniors have been just phenomenal kids — they’re just great girls. They’re very upset. It’s that feeling that hits you of, ‘Wow, this is my last high school game.’"
While 14th-seeded Hempfield (14-11) advanced to Tuesday’s first-round against 3rd-seeded Wilson (23-2), the 19th-seeded Lady Warriors finished their season at 11-12 overall.
Friday’s loss also dropped Warwick to 0-3 against Hempfield this season, although those defeats were only by a combined 10 points.
"I feel like we’re always pretty evenly matched. We just come up on the short end of the stick, unfortunately," Derr said.
Indeed, neither team led by more than four points the whole way, and Warwick, paced by Madi Derr’s nine points, took a 26-22 lead into the final stanza.
And although Hempfield’s 6-foot-0 center Kaitlin Lefever picked up her third foul with 5:59 remaining, the WHS girls went just 1-for-4 from the foul line in the opening minutes of the quarter. For the game, they were 5-of-11.
Meanwhile, Lefever scored from the high post with 3:35 to go to put the Knights up 28-27, and then after Derr sank her third triple, Lefever scored in the lane to tie it 30-30 with 2:41 remaining in the game. Lefever, Taylor Denlinger and Brianna Neal scored nine points apiece to lead a balanced attack for the Hempfield girls, who were playing without guard Sarah Helgeson.
"Without having ‘B’ in there, they dumped it into their big girls probably at least three times and got six easy points that hurt us," Derr said. "The guards are playing a big-girl position, so it was new to them. Overall, we only had eight turnovers, so I felt like our effort was good and we looked better offensively. The girls came out really trying and I don’t think we let up any particular quarter. But I think it was that lapse where they had a couple easy ones from their bigs."
Trower’s layup gave Hempfield a lead it never lost and then she sank both ends of a 1-and-1 with :48.1 to go to put the Black Knights in front 34-30.
Warwick’s Greta Weidemoyer answered by knocking down two free throws with :31.2 remaining to cut the deficit to 36-32, and then when Neal missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end, the Lady Warriors got the ball with an opportunity to tie or go-ahead.
Point guard Macaulay Soto looked to drive, but was sealed off and kicked it out to Weidemoyer on the left wing. The junior forward put up a 15-footer, but it didn’t fall and Neal grabbed the rebound and converted both foul shots with :3.5 left to put it away.
"We had three options, actually, off of that last play, so any of them would have been fine to just try to hit something," Derr said. "And when it doesn’t fall, it doesn’t fall. There’s not a whole lot you can do about that. I think we were 5-of-11 from the line and we missed probably five easy shots — just simple layups. Those types of things can kill you in a close game."
Earlier, Megan Hunt (seven points) hit a putback to put Warwick up 6-5, but Denlinger’s trey at the buzzer put the Knights up 8-6 after one.
That also started an 8-3 run by the Knights, as they went in front 13-9 on Neal’s layup. But the Lady Warriors ended the quarter with an 8-0 surge of its own, started by Soto’s three-point play and capped by Derr’s ‘three,’ which sent Warwick to the half leading 17-13.
The game continued to swing back-and-forth in the third, with Hempfield grabbing a 22-19 advantage and then Warwick going ahead 26-22 after three following a layup by Soto with :03 left in the quarter.
But it wasn’t meant to be for Warwick.
"It’s further than we were last year, and to get into a District playoff, that obviously was a goal," Derr said. "We had some tough losses. I said from the beginning, we struggled overall with having five out (on the floor) that were kind of in sync and on all the time and we struggled with having a bad quarter. Sometimes it was the first, sometimes it was the third. You try to get past those things and keep positive for the girls and overall considering we lost Vicki Smith and we had ‘B’ out tonight, they played their hearts out and as a coach, that’s all you can ask for is that they try to keep that positive attitude." More LADY WARRIORS, page B-4