Warren handles business in district semifinal, beats Fairfield Union 59-23
Sets up rematch with Sheridan
VINCENT — Warren took care of business in Tuesday’s Division II district semifinal, cruising past Fairfield Union for a 59-23 victory.
The win sets up Friday’s district championship game against Sheridan, a rematch the Warriors have been waiting a year for. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Nelsonville-York High School.
“Oh yeah,” said Warren junior Abbie Smith when asked if she was excited to play the Generals again. Smith and her teammates vividly remember how last season ended, Sheridan escaping with a narrow victory in the regional semifinals.
“We all knew what we had to do tonight,” continued Smith, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds Tuesday. “We wanted to get back to the district finals and give Sheridan another shot. We all really came together tonight. It really worked out in our favor tonight.”
The Warriors pressured Fairfield Union early and often, forcing 10 first-quarter turnovers to jump out to a 12-5 lead. It was 14-7 in the second period when Warren used a 10-0 run to create some separation. Millie Ryan’s putback at the buzzer gave the Warriors a 29-11 halftime advantage.
Warren scored the first 15 points of the third quarter — two 3-pointers from Savannah Banks, two three-point plays by Smith and a trey by Alex Frazee — to go up 44-11.
Fairfield Union’s Olivia Spillers, who paced the Falcons with 13 points, hit a 3 to momentarily stop the bleeding, Leah Way answered right back with a trey as Warren led 52-14 after three.
In the final quarter, Sophie Cochran’s mid-range jumper off an assist from Kelly Jackson stretched Warren’s lead to 41, 57-16. Smith followed with a basket to give Warren its largest lead of the game before Fairfield Union scored the final four points of the contest.
By the final whistle, Warren’s defense had forced 26 turnovers and held Fairfield Union to 28.6% (8 for 28) from the floor.
“We wanted to pressure them and take away that next pass,” said Warren head coach Amy Way. “We read the passing lanes pretty well I thought. We were able to get them flustered a little bit and take them out of their offense.”
Like Smith, Ryan grabbed nine boards for the Warriors and also recorded four steals and three assists.
Frazee notched 14 points and four steals while Banks added 11 points. Olivia Alloway finished with four assists while Jackson tallied three.
The Warriors shot 50% (24 for 48) as their inside-out game proved too to be to much for the Falcons.
“I think we’re a hard matchup because you have to send two (defenders) with Abbie,” Way said. “If you don’t send two with Abbie she’s pretty consistently going to score. Abbie does such a great job. She knows she’s going to be doubled and she finds those open girls for the wide open shots. We have good shooters, so that definitely helps open up some things.”
Smith said when Warren is hitting shots from outside it really opens up what her and Ryan can do down low.
“When we’ve got me and Millie in the post doing our thing, and we’ve got our shooters that are hitting shots, that’s when we’re at our best,” she said. “Whenever they’re making them, we try our best to get it back out to them.”
Now, Warren’s full attention turns to Sheridan, the No. 1 ranked Division II team in the state. Way admitted, however, the Generals have had Warren’s attention pretty much all season.
“There’s a little bit of motivational stuff in the locker room on that from last year,” Way said. “I think they all remember that and they remember how they felt walking off the floor and watching (Sheridan) get their picture taken and the celebration for that. I expect to have some good practices leading up to Friday and for them to be prepared and focused.”
Jordan Holland can be reached at email@example.com.