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Faith Rewarded

Beaver’s 3-Pointer Is The Difference, Trojans Edge Warren 54-52

Southwestern’s Madi McIntyre and Warren’s Gracie Ruhlman (25) battle for a loose ball during Thursday’s first-round basketball game in the Southwestern Tournament. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Southwestern girls basketball coach Kay Sirianni said the word of the week for her team was “faith.”

As it turned out, there was plenty of that to go around Thursday night.

Trojans’ star guard Reece Beaver — held in check for most of the game — scored the final two buckets, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining, to send the Trojans to a 54-52 victory over Warren in the first round of the Southwestern Tournament.

The win improves the Trojans’ record to 4-0, while the Dragons fall to 1-2.

Beaver, who had been averaging nearly 34 points per game in the Trojans’ first three contests, finished with 19 points, four assists and two steals, but had only 4 points at halftime.

Warren’s Alyssa Farr (5) and Southwestern’s Bella Sirianni fight for a rebound. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Teammates Bella Sirianni and Kira Ricker picked her up.

Sirianni scored 15 points to go along with 10 rebounds and Ricker added 11 points and three assists.

Coach Sirianni needed all of their help against a determined Warren squad.

“We talk about every girl on our team has a role and sometimes if Reece can’t score the majority of points, we need other kids to step up and rebound and score points,” she said. “We have to be a versatile team and tonight we really showed it.”

Warren showed its versatility, too.

Southwestern’s Reece Beaver is surrounded by, from the left, Warren’s Halle Kuzminski, Samantha Ruhlman and Peyton Wotorson during the first-round of the Southwestern girls basketball tournament on Thursday. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Peyton Wotorson poured in 18 points, Samantha Ruhlman and Alana Stuart both had 9, and Alyssa Farr contributed 8. And that trio spearheaded a 12-1 fourth-quarter run to give the Dragons a 52-49 lead with 90 seconds remaining.

But then Beaver delivered in the clutch.

Following a Southwestern timeout, the junior drove hard to the basket and converted a contested layup to cut the deficit to 52-51 with 1:14 remaining and then, 22 seconds later, she drilled a 3-pointer that gave the Trojans a 54-52 lead.

The two-point advantage held up in the final minute and Southwestern escaped with the win.

“Great players do that,” Warren coach Lisa LaVan said of Beaver. “She stepped up when her team needed her. Sammie Ruhlman did a great job (defensively) on her. Sammie’s length gave her fits. She’s quick enough to stay with anybody.”

The first half was close throughout. The highlight was a deep, deep 3-pointer by Ruhlman to end the first quarter, which saw Warren lead 14-12. Farr’s 3-pointer in the first 15 seconds of the second quarter pushed the Dragons’ lead to 17-12, but the Trojans went into the break leading 23-22.

Southwestern’s lead grew to as many as 11 points in the third quarter as Beaver scored 10 points, but Warren finished the last minute on a 5-0 run, highlighted by Wotorson’s 3-pointer, to trim the deficit to 41-35 heading into the final period.

“She’s only a freshman,” LaVan said of Wotorson. “She’s got great speed, great strength and she doesn’t look like a freshman. … She’s come a long way in a short time and I’m excited to see what more she’s going to bring for us.”

The Trojans will meet the winner of the Jamestown-Sacred Heart game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Warren will play the loser of that game for consolation honors at 6 p.m.

“We knew it would be a tough game (against Southwestern),” LaVan said. “I’m super proud of them. They’ve come a long way. We loaded up early and we knew it would be really hard for us. Hopefully, come our region and our district we’ll be ready to go. Southwestern is a great team and they’re well-coached. Hat’s off to them.”

And, hat’s off to Beaver for the winning plays she made in the final minute.

“Reece can handle the pressure and keep her composure at the end of the game,” Coach Sirianni said.

WARREN (52)

SRuhlman 4 0 9, Kuzminski 3 0 6, Farr 3 1 8, Davidson 0 1 1, Stuart 3 1 9, Wotorson 6 2 18, Irwin 0 1 1, GRuhlman 0 0 0, Totals 19 6 52.

SOUTHWESTERN (54)

Cobb 0 0 0, RBeaver 5 7 19, Cotter 3 1 7, BBeaver 0 0 0, Sirianni 6 1 15, Riley 0 0 0, Hamilton 0 0 0, McIntyre 1 0 2, Pearson 0 0 0, Ricker 4 0 11, Totals 19 9 54.

3-point goals — SRuhlman, Farr, Stuart 2, Wotorson 4, RBeaver 2, Sirianni 2, Ricker 3.

Warren 14 8 13 17 — 52

Southwestern 12 11 18 13 — 54

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