By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Wellsboro coach Mary Grab knew that her Green Hornets would have to play solid defense against Warrior Run senior forward Steph Shamburg. Grab told her team that they had to be constantly aware of where Shamburg was on the court during any given play and not let her get any easy baskets.
At first, it looked like their plan wasn’t working, as Shamburg opened the half with seven points to lead the Defenders.
Then Wellsboro came out in the second half and started executing Grab’s game plan as she told them.
“Our feeling when we came in was we had to know where their shooters were, but we had to make sure that any touch that Steph got was contested,” Grab said. “So they had to talk to one another. The kids did a good job of communicating tonight. We knew where she was. A couple of those shots where she would come into the key and get a nice easy jumper was enough for the kids to wake up and remember that’s what we needed to prevent.”
Shamburg was shut out from the floor the entire third quarter and went nearly 12 minutes without a basket between the second and third quarters as Wellsboro played solid defense en route to a 42-31 win at Montoursville High School to advance in the District 4 Class AA playoffs.
Wellsboro plays Mount Carmel at a time, date and location to be announced.
The Defenders (14-9) came out of the half tied at 17-all and went back and forth with Wellsboro (12-11) exchanging baskets. Warrior Run’s Abby Fisher scored on a put back with 6:25 to play to put Warrior Run ahead by two — the last lead it would have all game — before Wellsboro’s Sarah Ingerick responded 14 seconds later with a dagger to tie it up.
Chloe Eisenhuth and Mackenzie Hays each would tie the game up for Warrior Run at both 21-all and 23-all before the Green Hornets started pulling away.
Shamburg (15 points, nine rebounds) scored off a quick inbounds pass with 5:04 in the fourth quarter to cut it to a 4-point deficit (31-27), but Warrior Run wouldn’t score again from the field until 1:24 remained, trailing by 10 with the game all but over.
The Green Hornets led by as many as 13 late in the fourth quarter and scored all but two of their 13 fourth-quarter points from the line.
Wellsboro kept trying to force Warrior Run to take shots from outside, routinely putting two or three defenders on Shamburg, but Warrior Run went cold from outside in the second half and never could rally back.
The Defenders were just 1-for-17 from downtown, with senior Tay Parker (7 points, three steals) scoring their lone trey. Warrior Run shot just under 30 percent from the floor.
“I felt if we could’ve hit a few from the outside (then) they wouldn’t have doubled down so much, but they were double-, triple-teaming (Shamburg) inside and we didn’t make them (outside),” Warrior Run coach John Weaver said. “We didn’t hit any outside shots to make them come out on the perimeter. We were getting wide open looks, nobody around us. They played it right. I wouldn’t come out and guard us either until we started hitting (threes) and we never did. They were able to double, triple team her inside and it made it tough.”
While senior guard Mackenzie Marple — who played all four quarters despite being sick — played solid with 11 points and three steals, it was others who stepped up when they needed to in order to give Wellsboro more options.
“Our kids normally have to step up in that kind of a role, back (Marple) up defensively as well as offensively. The team just did a wonderful job tonight.”
Ingerick came off the bench to score 10, grab seven boards, swipe three steals and dish out two assists. Jada Jackson also stepped up from the bench, scoring eight and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
“They’re very quick out front. I thought we did a very good job on Marple, but then (Ingerick) stepped up and played huge for them,” Weaver said. “We couldn’t battle back. We were cold (and) you can only hold them off playing defense so long. (It’s) 17-17 at the half the way we were playing. Many of times we had that wide open look that we needed to get started, we just didn’t hit it.”