Warriors keep pace atop Section One

By on December 23, 2014
Warwick senior James Willis, who scored a team-high 13 points against Penn Manor last Friday, cuts to the basket between Comet defenders Sam Greenslade (left) and Alex Krahulik (right).

Warwick senior James Willis, who scored a team-high 13 points against Penn Manor last Friday, cuts to the basket between Comet defenders Sam Greenslade (left) and Alex Krahulik (right).

These days, James Willis’ funk at the foul line in a 56-53 non-league loss to Exeter seems like a long time ago.

In actuality, it was just five games ago that Warwick’s senior forward/guard took the collar, going 0-for-4 at the stripe.

Last Friday night in a Section One game against Penn Manor, Willis was simply automatic.

The Warriors were certainly happy about it.

After leading by as many as 12 points at one point in the fourth quarter, the Warwick boys saw their advantage cut to 43-37 when the Comets’ Nick Lord scored on a layup with 1:22 left.

From there, Willis made both ends of a 1-and-1 – not once, but twice &tstr; as the Warriors finished the game on an 8-1 run and closed out a hard-fought 51-38 victory over Penn Manor in Lititz.

In the end, Wills finished with a team-high 13 points, including a 6-for-6 effort from the line, leading three Warrior players in double figures. Nate Miller added 11 points and Grant Zimmerman chipped in with 10 for the Warriors, who improved to 4-0 in league play and kept pace with Hempfield and Cedar Crest atop the Section One standings.

“James is a shooter,” Warwick coach Jeff Landis said. “He’s put way too much time into his game to let one night of 0-for-4 change his confidence. He’s just put way too many reps in and the nice thing early on is if someone looks at the box score and says, ‘This guy is 6-for-12 from the line, foul him’ … I’ll take James on the line in any game. I have a lot of confidence in him.”

In the first quarter, the Warriors weren’t giving themselves too many opportunities to get to the foul line, settling instead for outside jump shots against the Comets’ (1-3 L-L) zone defense.

Damian Soto and Willis each hit early treys, but Warwick shot just 2-of-10 from the field in the first quarter &tstr; mostly from beyond the arc &tstr; and Lord’s putback with :28 to go in the period stood up for a 9-7 Penn Manor advantage after one.

Thanks in large part to the defense of Warrior senior guard/forward Jordan Cipalla, however, Lord &tstr; who was averaging 12.5 ppg through Penn Manor’s first six games &tstr; was held to just four for the game.

“Jordan has an offensive skill set, but his role for this team, and he’s done a good job sacrificing, is just to stop people,” Landis said. “His offense comes. (He had a team-high 16 against) Garden Spot, and tonight he didn’t take bad shots. He had shots that he’ll make on another night. But we’ve got pieces and they’re starting to know where their place is.”

Kyle Weaver is one of those pieces and he nailed two treys in an 8-0 Warwick run to start the second quarter, giving the red and black a lead they never relinquished. For Weaver, it was a continuation from his solid night against Lebanon in Warwick’s previous game, when he came off the bench to play key minutes with Zimmerman in foul trouble.

“Kyle stepped right in tonight and had some big shots,” Landis said. “He does so many little things well &tstr; takes charges, rebounds, guards.”

A Cipalla putback was sandwiched between a layup and three-pointer by Penn Manor’s Nate Brown, who finished with 10 points. But Zimmerman’s deuce in the lane gave the Warwick boys a 20-14 cushion going to the locker room.

“Before the game, I saw Tim Eberly, who used to be my eighth-grade coach, a big guy who scored (more than 1,000 points), and he said, ‘You know, one of the differences this year is we’re really able to score the ball in the paint,’” Landis recalled. “I don’t know if the paint saw the ball for the first quarter and a half. We just kept shooting ‘threes.’ We can shoot, but it has to go inside out, then we’re much better.”

As the third quarter got underway, Penn Manor’s offense was clicking. Sam Greenslade, who paced the Comets with 13 points, scored three straight buckets. Later, Brown’s triple, followed by Greenslade’s free throw narrowed the Warriors’ lead to three, 29-26, with 3:00 remaining in the quarter.

But the WHS boys countered with a period-ending 7-1 run &tstr; behind Soto’s trey, Zimmerman’s steal and fastbreak layup, and Willis’ two free throws &tstr; to go in front 36-27 heading to the fourth.

Down the stretch, with Warwick capitalizing on nice ball movement, Miller pulling down five of his 11 boards and Zimmerman scoring on a layup on a pretty assist from Cipalla, the Warriors seemed in control, up 43-31 with just 3:40 remaining.

“Once again, Nate was a monster on the boards,” Landis said. “With his athleticism, a lot of people struggle to out-rebound him.”

The Comets, though, had other ideas. PM was able to victimize the Warriors on several back-door chances, and Greenslade’s inside bucket sparked the Comets on a 6-0 run, capped by Lord’s deuce which cut Warwick’s advantage to 43-37 with 1:22 remaining.

They would get no closer, however. Willis saw to that. So did Soto and others with a tenacious defensive effort.

“I think Damian’s just guarding harder than he ever has before,” Landis said. “I think he’s healthy and that makes a big difference … When you hold anyone to 37 points, especially a Section One team, you’ve got to be pleased with that. There’s some things we definitely have to shore up, but give (Penn Manor) credit &tstr; they had a good game plan. You’ll see us get beat back door every once in awhile, but it’s part of the way we play. I’ve got to live with it.”

On Saturday, Tarojae Brake scored 18 points to lead four Octorara players in double figures, leading the undefeated Braves to a 72-56 non-league win over the Warriors, who fell to 6-2 overall.

The WHS boys, led by Grant Zimmerman’s season-high 20 points, took a 38-30 edge at the half. Miller chipped in with 10 points for Warwick.

But Octorara rallied for the victory by going on a 42-18 run in the second half.

Last Wednesday, Dec. 17, Miller finished with 16 points and Willis added 15, leading the Warriors to a 53-37 victory over host Lebanon in a Section One-Two crossover. Leading 25-16 at the half, the Warwick boys opened up a double-digit lead by outscoring the Cedars 15-7 in the third.

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