Cut down the nets: Warwick clinches first Section title since 1991

By on February 6, 2019
Surrounded by Conestoga Valley defenders, Warrior senior guard Colby Martin (3) looks for an open team-mate on the perimeter during last Wednesday’s 69-32 victory. Photo by Wendy Dagen

Surrounded by Conestoga Valley defenders, Warrior senior guard Colby Martin (3) looks for an open team-mate on the perimeter during last Wednesday’s 69-32 victory. Photo by Wendy Dagen

Ryan Shirk’s lip was still puffy at game’s end last Wednesday, Jan. 30, a badge of honor from physical play against Conestoga Valley.

The reward, though, was worth it.

The Warwick senior guard and his teammates snapped a 28-year drought for the program, locking down the Section Two championship with a dominant 69-32 Senior Night win over the Buckskins in Lititz.

“It’s something we’ve dreamed about since we were younger,” said Shirk, who led three Warrior players in double figures with a game-high 15 points. “It feels pretty good.”

It had been 1991 since the Warriors last won a Section title, when current assistant Jeff Landis helped the Brian Brewer-coached Warwick boys take home the crown in Section One. Head coach Chris Christensen was 3 years old at the time.

“We’ve been waiting to do that. It’s a long time. It feels good. I’ll enjoy talking to coach Brewer about it,” Christensen smiled.

Warwick’s boss was happy for his four seniors — Brock Fassnacht, Trysten George, Colby Martin, and Shirk — who were honored prior to the game, and then were the last ones to take their turn cutting down the net afterward.

“It was pretty cool,” Christensen said. “They deserve it. Those guys have been around and they put in the time and it’s nice to have four guys who are a huge part of this team.”

Elizabethtown (7-3 L-L), with its star senior Larry Locker, also had Section title aspirations, but the Warriors’ (11-1 L-L, 13-6 overall) win last Wednesday kept them two games in front with just one league contest remaining.

“We knew we were going to have to fight hard against E-town and all that,” Martin said. “They were the talk of the Section, but we knew if we came out here and just played like we had to, then we’d have a chance at the Section.”

Against CV, although Warwick started the game 0-of-4 from the field, its defense kept the Bucks scoreless for the opening 4:16 until Parker Groff scored on the post to put the Bucks up 2-0.

Shirk’s first of three treys finally got the Warriors on the board at the 3:04 mark, kick-starting a 13-3 run, capped by Caleb Schmitz’s putback, which put Warwick in front for good, 18-5, after one. Schmitz and Martin each finished with 11 points.

“The defense was there,” Martin said. “We held them to zero points the first four minutes too, and we know our shots will fall eventually. We’ve just got to keep playing our game and let it come to us.”

The Warriors’ shots were falling in droves in the second quarter. Capitalizing on six CV turnovers and shooting 8-of-16 from the floor, Warwick went on an 18-2 burst to break it open.

Conor Adams started things with two foul shots, than an inside bucket, and Martin converted a pair of fastbreak layups and a ‘three.’

“We’ve got a lot of shooters,” Fassnacht said. “I think that’s one of our strengths is our three-point shooting and then we have a decent amount of size across the board and we’re almost as big as every team we play up and down the lineup. So I think our size, athleticism and depth really helps us have a great advantage.”

Leading 36-9 at the half, George’s putback with 4:38 left in the third pushed the lead to 44-11 and it was never close down the stretch. George and Shirk had six rebounds apiece to lead a 36-19 Warrior advantage on the boards, and 12 different players scored for the Warriors.

“(The scoring leader) is different every night,” Christensen said, “and I would say we even have more guys that can come in and do the same thing. We’ve seen Brock Fassnacht come off the bench and be the leader, and we just have so many guys that are capable of being the leader of that game. It’s tough to scout and it’s a credit to our guys and different players stepping up every night. That’s only going to help us in the long run.”

Jordan Ransing paced Conestoga Valley (1-10 L-L, 3-16 overall) with seven points.

For the Warriors, winning the Section title was just the first of their goals.

“We’re hoping to get deep into Districts and maybe win Leagues,” George said.

The top 12 teams advance to the District Three 6A playoffs, with the first four teams receiving a bye and the 5th through 8th seeds hosting first-round games.

“We need to get the next two (vs. Lebanon and Solanco),” Christensen said after last Wednesday’s game, “and see how high we can get and maybe host a home game for Districts and see where we can land. We’ve got more goals ahead of us.”

***

On Monday night, the Warriors closed out their regular-season with a convincing 72-40 non-league win over Solanco in Lititz.

As of deadline, the Warriors were ranked 9th in the District Three 6A power ratings.

Shirk scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the opening half, when the Warwick boys jumped out a commanding 32-17 lead and the Golden Mules never threatened from there.

Corbin Horst finished with 12 points for the Warriors, behind four treys in the fourth quarter, and Martin chipped in with 11 points, including three treys.

In all, the Warwick boys drained 11 treys from the perimeter.

Dawson Kreider led Solanco with 12 points in a losing cause.

***

Last Friday, Shirk had a game-high 20 points and McCracken chipped in with 18, leading Warwick to a hard-fought 60-56 win at Lebanon,

The Warriors trailed by five points late in the game, but rallied late to pull it off. Shirk and McCracken each hit four treys, combining for eight of the Warwick boys’ 10 three-pointers.

Jean Carlos Gonzalez Belen scored 18 points to lead three Lebanon players in double figures. Raylin Pena and Isaiah Rodriguez added 17 and 11.

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