Warriors grab back-to-back wins

By on January 14, 2015
 Warwick senior forward/center Nate Miller draws contact inside from an E-town defender in Monday night’s action. (Photo by Chris Knight)

Warwick senior forward/center Nate Miller draws contact inside from an E-town defender in Monday night’s action. (Photo by Chris Knight)

The Warwick boys had more than just one opponent on Monday night.
Sure, Elizabethtown was waiting for them between the white lines.
But they also happened to be playing on the same night that Oregon and Ohio State were duking it out for the national college football championship.
That might have helped to explain why the gym wasn’t exactly as packed as it was last Friday night for cross-town nemesis Manheim Township.
“The atmosphere Friday night was something special &tstr; a rival, the gym is packed, the student section in their suits and briefcases from the front row to the top &tstr; and the energy was unbelievable, they brought it,” Warwick coach Jeff Landis remarked. “Tonight we were going to have to generate that ourselves. We talked about not coming out flat and we didn’t.”
They sure didn’t.
Trailing 16-13 with 4:51 left in the second quarter, Warwick got a couple of clutch ‘threes’ from senior Grant Forney off the bench and took a 24-21 edge into the locker room.
Then after the Bears had cut a seven-point second-half deficit to four, 48-44, with 4:46 left, Warwick responded with a game-ending 19-2 run.
It was just what the doctor ordered to put 67-46 win in the books over Elizabethtown in a tough Section One-Two crossover game in Lititz.
“We knew they’d give us a fight,” Landis said. “I have a lot of respect for the way their coaches do things, so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
The Bears (4-5 L:-L, 7-7 overall) are tied with CV in Section Two, one game behind first-place Lebanon (5-4 L-L), while the Warriors improved to 6-3 L-L:(9-6 overall), two behind second-place Hempfield (8-1 L-L) for the final League playoff berth in Section One. In the latest District Three Quad-A power rankings, the Warriors were 17th, while E-town was close behind at 22nd.
“We both needed this game, maybe for different reasons,” Landis said. “We’re playing a game of time and working on improving. We’ve fallen off the pace a little bit in Section One, but we get another crack at everyone and it’s a one game at a time mentality. Districts is also one of our goals and a night like tonight. E-town and us are really close, we’ve got to take advantage, especially at home.”
There were six lead changes in the first quarter, but E-town’s Tayvon Beverly scored five points in a period-ending 7-0 run by the Bears which gave them a 13-7 advantage after one. Beverly led three E-town players in double figures with 16 points. Joey Lonardi added 12 and Zach Polites had 11.
With the Warriors still trailing 19-16 midway through the second, Forney nailed the second of his two treys to tie it 19-all with 2:58 to go in the half. It also sparked Warwick on an 8-2 run &tstr; Damian Soto hit a free throw, Grant Zimmerman scored inside and Soto dropped in a layup on a nice assist from Forney &tstr; to put them up 24-21 at the half.
“Grant is just such a great kid, he works so hard, he never missed a 6 a.m. workout,” Landis said. “There’s games that Grant plays 30 seconds to a minute and he never complains, he’s just happy when we win. So when he goes in and strokes those shots, it lifts everyone. He’s got five brothers in the student section, so it should seem like they’re cheering for him.”
Elizabethtown, though, didn’t go away. With guards Beverly, Christian Wieand and Jacob Hood distributing the ball into the paint, 6-foot-5 Polites scored six of his 11 points in the third and the Bears were within one, 38-37, following a mid-range J by Beverly with 2:56 left in the period.
“They present some problems for us with their size and I thought they did a real good job of getting it inside,” Landis said. “We thought we could pressure their guards a little and I thought that created some things for them.”
Warwick senior center/forward Nate Miller, meanwhile, was a tall task for E-town in the second half. In addition to grabbing six of his seven boards after the break, he scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the third, including layup off a pretty no-look pass from Jordan Cipalla and a triple which gave the Warriors a 43-37 edge going to the fourth.
“Nate is a rebounder and he can score the basketball,” Landis said. “Tonight, I wasn’t as pleased with his defensive effort as I am some nights. But that being said, rebounding is a big part of defense and he owned the glass for us in the second half.”
Polites, though, got his own rebound early in the fourth and scored on a putback, and then Wieand hit a ‘three’ to pull the Bears within 48-44 with 4:46 remaining in the ball game.
E-town, however, would score just one more basket the rest of the way.
“The last five minutes, we just talked about keeping people in front of us,” Landis said. “I thought Damian played a much better second half.”
Getting the job done at the defensive end enabled the Warriors to pull away with their game-ending 19-2 run. James Willis scored seven of his 12 points in that stretch, Kyle Weaver (10 points) nailed a ‘three’ from the left corner, and Miller joined the Phi Slama Jama fraternity with a dunk to help seal it.
With its win over the Bears tucked away, Warwick turned its attention toward playing Conestoga Valley on Wednesday and taking another step toward the playoffs.
“We talked about Friday (at Ephrata) not meaning much if we don’t take care of tonight and we did and now it’s onto CV,” Landis said. “They’re playing well right now, so we know we’ll have our hands full. But I have a lot of confidence in our guys.”
Last Friday, Warwick got a big confidence boost, as Miller shared game-high scoring honors with Manheim Township’s Kevin Bushong, each with 24 points, to help lead the Warriors in a big 63-54 Section One victory in Lititz.
At the half, the two teams were right back where they started, tied 24-24. But Willis scored six of his 17 points in the third &tstr; including one of his three treys and 3-of-4 at the foul line &tstr; as the Warriors went up 41-36 going to the fourth.
Down the stretch, the Blue Streaks capitalized on a couple of WHS turnovers to remain within striking distance, 55-48, with 2:12 left. But the Warriors shot 16-of-18 (89 percent) at the stripe in the fourth quarter to hold on. Jordan Cipalla was 6-of-6 in the final stanza, while Miller went 9-of-10, while finishing 13-of-16 for the game in free throws.

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