Warriors show ‘will to win’

By on December 19, 2018
Warwick sophomore point guard Joey McCracken attacks the basket for two of his 15 points in the Warriors’ non-league victory over Manheim Central last WednesdaY. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Warwick sophomore point guard Joey McCracken attacks the basket for two of his 15 points in the Warriors’ non-league victory over Manheim Central last WednesdaY. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Open league play with big wins over MT, Hempfield

If there was one loss last year which hurt more than any other for the Warwick boys, it had to be an 89-85 defeat in four OTs to Manheim Twp.

It was one of the Warriors’ eight losses by just six points or less, but to stretch their big rival — an eventual District Three 6A semi-finalist — to the brink on the Blue Streaks’ home floor and come up just short was a tough pill to swallow.

Last Friday, Warwick was back in Neffsville.

And many of the seniors from that 2017-18 team were home from college and sitting in the first row behind the players’ bench.

“It’s a good thing for our program to see our basketball alumni want to come back and cheer on their former teammates,” Warrior coach Chris Christensen said. “Obviously it gives the team a boost, and to have them there, it was pretty cool.”

The end result was pretty cool for Warwick too.

With Conor Adams and Joey McCracken scoring 15 points apiece, leading four players in double figures, Warwick gained some revenge by taking home a thrilling 75-73 crossover victory in OT in both teams’ league opener.

Colby Martin added 14 points and Ryan Shirk chipped in with 13.

“It was a really good win for our program,” Christensen said. “It’s a great way to start off our league play. I hope it’s one on the (Section Two) field because they’re a really good team. They’ve got really good players that are real experienced. But I mean, you can just see the resiliency of our guys. They expect to win and I thought tonight was a combination of all the experience and just the will to win, basically.”

That will to win was evident again Monday night, when the Warriors (2-0 Section Two, 3-2 overall) held on for a tough 46-44 victory over Hempfield in a crossover game in Lititz.

Martin scored 15 points, including two big free throws with :6.8 left to put the game out of reach.

The Warriors took a 37-31 lead at the end of the third quarter, then weathered the storm as the Knights closed their deficit to 41-40 in the fourth, and clinched it at the foul line down the stretch.

McCracken helped out with 14 points.

Last Friday against Manheim Township, Martin had the hot hand early for Warwick, burying one of his three treys and then sinking two free throws for a 5-0 lead with 1:49 elapsed.

But Township — led by senior Tyler Crespo’s game-high 30 points — answered and went up by as many as nine points, 29-20, on a free throw by Crespo with 4:38 left in the half, then took a 33-30 advantage into the break.

Brendan Mellott and Zach Oldac finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Streaks.

Finally, in the third quarter, back-to-back ‘threes’ by Adams gave the Warriors their first lead since the opening stanza, making it 41-37.

“(Conor) sparked us,” Christensen remarked. “That was great for him. We were in the locker room talking and celebrating a little bit, we talked about him and what he brought to the table tonight and I’m proud of him.”

Crespo’s triple put MT back up 43-41 at the 1:15 mark, only to have Martin connect from downtown to send the Warwick boys to the final stanza with a 44-43 edge.

That set the stage for a fourth quarter in which the two teams combined for five ties and two lead changes. Warwick seemed to be in good shape when Shirk hit two freebies with :25.1 left, making it 57-54. Crespo, however, had other ideas, tying it with one of his three treys just eight seconds later.

At the other end, Shirk’s long two again put the Warriors in the driver’s seat, 59-57 with only :4.5 left on the clock. One more time, though, Crespo darted down the right sideline and dropped in a game-tying layup at the buzzer, sending it to OT.

“At the end of regulation, we were trying to foul and he’s just so fast that we couldn’t get there fast enough,” Christensen said. “He’s one of the best players in our league, if not the best. He’s a really good kid, and you see the work he puts in what he gets. He’s extremely talented and he’ll go on to be really good next year wherever he goes and do well in college too.”

Moving on to the extra session, the Warriors came out of the gates on an 8-0 run behind Shirk’s triple from the left corner, McCracken’s three-point play and Adams’ layup, giving Warwick a 67-59 lead with 1:46 left.

“I give Ryan a lot of credit because for the first time in his career, he’s got people who have as a goal to take him away,” Christensen said. “But he kept his head the whole game. He wasn’t having, in his world, what he would consider a great game, and then when it came down to crunch time, he was there. Joey, I mean, he’s doing a lot for us and he’s only going to get better. People forget he’s a sophomore, but he’s a really good player. Colby’s our motor and he sets the tone defensively and with his energy, attitude and vocal leadership, but he’s also a leader by his actions.”

The Streaks clawed back to 69-66 and 71-68 on buckets by Crespo, but Warwick shot 8-of-10 at the foul line in the final :53.1 to clinch it.

“It definitely gives us confidence going into next week,” Christensen said, “I told the guys, ‘That’s the league favorite right there, and if you can beat them, let’s go. Let’s go.’ Like I said, they’re extremely talented and I think that’s one on the field. I do.”

Last Wednesday, in the nightcap of a girls-boys doubleheader against back-yard rival Manheim Central, Martin scored all 12 of his points in the first half, as Warwick jumped to a 30-19 lead and went on to earn a 54-39 non-league win in Lititz.

McCracken led all scorers with 15 points, going 5-of-7 at the foul line with two treys.

Chase Marquette paced the Barons with 14 points and Cam Sell helped out with 10.

 

 

 

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