Second-half comeback leads Warwick over Penn Manor
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
With the Warwick girls basketball team clinging to a two-point lead with just 35 seconds left on Monday night, Madi Derr wasn’t supposed to shoot the ball.
And when a three-point attempt left the senior guard’s fingertips, nobody knew that more than her.
"I knew that my mom (head coach Amy Derr) was going to kill me if I didn’t make it because I shouldn’t have shot it," Madi smiled. "So after I shot it, I was just kinda hoping that it would go in, and thankfully it did."
Indeed it did, and when her clutch triple from the right elbow found the bottom of the net, it proved to be a dagger for Penn Manor, as the Lady Warriors completed their comeback from a 12-point first-half deficit and earned a 46-42 victory in a Section One game in Lititz.
It was a welcomed boost of confidence for a Lady Warriors’ team that had dropped their first 11 games this season, including six by single digits. But coupled with its 29-24 non-league win over York Suburban last Saturday, it marked the first time this season that Warwick (1-6 L-L, 2-11 overall) won back-to-back games.
"I think attitude-wise, I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids," coach Derr said. "We are so trying to keep it together and the film is showing they’re getting better … I’m glad that we’re making the winning strides at this point. It feels good to win and we definitely needed that on Saturday. It was a good game, it was a close game."
Their game against Penn Manor turned out be a close finish, although the Comets led by as many as 12 points, 22-10, with 3:12 to go in the opening half, and 10 points, 24-14, at the intermission.
But Warwick outscored the visitors 15-8 in the third and then finally took their first lead since 3-0 when Derr knocked down a 15-foot jumper to make it 36-35 with 5:09 remaining. It was a lead that the Lady Warriors never relinquished, and they pushed their advantage to as many as six points before Penn Manor’s Mikahla Pomarici made things interesting by converting a steal into a layup with 53 seconds left, cutting the Lady Comets’ deficit to 42-40.
The game plan at that point for Warwick after beating the Lady Comets’ press was to spread the floor, hold the ball, and take some time off the clock. But when Derr got the ball beyond the arc and had time to set up, she basically sealed the deal for the Lady Warriors’ win. She scored all 11 of her points in the final stanza while shooting 4-of-4 from the field.
"I was open and so I thought, ‘Well, I have an open shot and coach always tell us when we’re open, why not take the shot? So it was kinda out of habit," Madi said. "But like I said, thankfully it went in."
Coach Derr added, "Madi was not supposed to shoot that last three, to be honest with you. We were going to attempt to just stall the ball and after it was all over, I said to (assistant) Fred (Gerfin), ‘That’s senior confidence for you.’ I mean, really. She’s so used to taking that shot. It’s one that she takes a million times in practice."
Freshman Kate Martin played with poise beyond her years while dropping in a game-high 14 points, including three triples. In fact, Martin and Derr combined to shoot a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point land in the second half to help spark the Lady Warriors’ comeback.
"(Kate) plays with confidence and it’s a great thing," coach Derr said. "She does some really nice natural things on the floor. She’s doing well for us and these kids have a double duty job. I’m only sitting out three with our low numbers and they’re playing their share of JV as well as varsity, so they’re definitely in shape."
They were tested on Monday night, however, while playing their third game in four days, and Penn Manor capitalized on a 25-15 rebounding advantage in the first half while controlling the early tempo. The Lady Comets led 14-6 after one, and then following a deuce by Warwick’s Greta Weidemoyer with 7:04 to go in the second quarter, the PM girls responded with an 8-2 run to take their biggest lead of the night. Abby Schlegelmilch scored eight of her team-high 10 points in the opening half, to go along with eight rebounds, and Abby Hamby added six points and grabbed four boards all in the second quarter.
Trailing by 10 at the break, the Lady Warriors got a sloppy start to the third, turning the ball over on their first three possessions. But then Martin nailed back-to-back buckets, including a trey to cut Penn Manor’s lead to 24-19. The Lady Comets went up eight, 30-22, on two free throws by Ilisha Collazo, but Warwick answered with a quarter-ending 7-2 run, capped by Martin’s 3-pointer to cut the gap to 32-29 going to the fourth. Weidemoyer also delivered a key three-point play in that stretch.
"Madi, Mere (Meredith Michel) and Greta, they have been those consistent seniors with unbelievable leadership qualities, they really are," coach Derr said. "Between the three of them, I told them, ‘I need them to step up. I need them to step up.’"
Warwick’s defense as a whole certainly stepped up in the second half. Between Schlegelmilch and Hamby, they managed just four combined points in the third and fourth quarters against the Lady Warriors 2-3 zone, and the Lady Comets had 11 of their 18 turnovers following the intermission.
"(Hamby and Schlegelmilch) were the ones doing all the scoring," coach Derr remarked, "and we said we need to key in on them. And we said that we need to double team. We needed to adjust our zone because we knew they had some outside shooters and then we had kids going through the middle. (But) we felt that our 2-3 zone was just kinda what we needed to do, and the double team needed to go on without reaching. So I thought the kids did a really good job with that."
Michel’s layup off of a PM turnover early in the fourth cut Warwick’s deficit to one, 32-31. Then after the Lady Comets’ Dana Mowbray converted a three-point play, Warwick scored the next 10 points — the first eight by Derr — and when Martin calmly sank both ends of a 1-and-1 with 2:43 to go, the Lady Warriors opened up their biggest lead, 41-35.
Penn Manor’s Kelly Shertzer responded with a trey, then Michel made the front end of a 1-and-1, Pomarici dropped in a layup and Derr followed with her back-breaking triple.
Hamby’s deuce off an inbounds play got the Lady Comets as close as three, 45-42, but Alexa Mohler hit a late free throw to put it away for the Lady Warriors.
"We’ve been in bigger holes before," Madi Derr said, "and so when we were down by 10 at half, we just kinda came all together in the locker room and said, ‘We’ve been in worse holes before and we can do it.’ The team is really close and we’re having fun together."
In a low-scoring battle last Saturday, Derr scored six of her team-high 11 points in the fourth quarter, helping Warwick defeat host York Suburban 29-24 for its first win of the season.
Morgan Haines nailed a 3-pointer in the first quarter, as the Lady Warriors jumped to a 10-6 lead after one and a 14-11 advantage at the break.
York Suburban outscored Warwick 6-2 in the third to take a one-point lead, 17-16, going to the fourth. But Derr and Mohler combined to shoot 6-of-10 from the foul line down the stretch to help the WHS girls pull it out.
Alexis Gettle paced the Lady Trojans with a game-high 13 points.
Last Friday, Cedar Crest took a 25-13 lead at the half and withstood a second-half rally by the Lady Warriors to win 41-38. Weidemoyer scored 10 points in a losing cause to lead the Warwick girls, who outscored the Lady Falcons 25-16 in the second half.
Crest’s Nikki Wagner led all scorers with 18 points.
In other action last Wednesday, Jan. 2, McCaskey outscored Warwick 23-18 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 66-60 Section One win in a hard-fought battle in Lancaster.
Derr had a game-high four treys and 20 points and Weidemoyer chipped in with 14 points for Warwick. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-10