His father always has said the key to some of his best team's success has been girls playing multiple sports.
Warrior Run coach Jon Weaver concurs. Two years after his father Craig coached a Montgomery softball team that featured mostly three-sport athletes to the Class A state final, Jon is coaching a team that consists of mostly multiple sport athletes who have shined in the biggest games and moments. Nearly every player on the Warrior Run roster has either played for a state championship soccer team and/or a state finalist softball squad.
Obviously, this is a different sport, but it would be foolish to think success in those other sports does not help on the basketball court. Warrior Run has made huge progress during Weaver's tenure, increasing its win total each season he has been there. Last season, the Defenders went 15-9 and won their first playoff game this century.
This season, the Defenders are thinking big just like they do in other sports. They are (3-2), losing two tough games to Lewisburg and Montoursville last week, but have the tools to be one of the district's best. They know what it takes because they have already paid the price in other sports.
"They hate to lose. Nobody hates to lose more than them," Weaver said. "They know how to win. They know what it takes. They've been there and done that."
Warrior Run won soccer state championships in 2010 and 2011 and the softball team advanced to state final last June. Both those teams made history and they want to do the same thing in basketball. The Defenders have a solid core back from last year's playoff team and could be especially tough if they avoid being decimated by injuries like they were last season.
It was during that difficult time, though, that Warrior Run showed how tough it is. The Defenders still were competitive without leading scorer and rebounder Steph Shamburg and won their first playoff game despite Shamburg's injury. Injuries and adversity are part of sports. Because they play so many, those girls were not impacted in a negative way.
"The girls know they can win under those circumstances and that is huge," Weaver said. "Soccer or softball might be some of their main sports, but when they play a sport they give it everything they have. It's basketball season now and they are giving it all they have on the court."
No wonder this once dormant program is now one of the area's strongest.
HANGING IN: Hughesville (1-6) is struggling right now but there is hope. The Spartans are a fairly young team and have a solid core of underclassmen. Sophomore Kierra Croucher scored 32 points in her first two games this season and sophomore Megan Shaner is a talented player who has only provided a glimpse of what she can do a year after tearing her ACL in her first varsity game.
The big problem for Hughesville right now is that it is playing in the rugged HAC-II. Every other team is more experienced and just about any of those other teams has championship potential. It might be difficult, but it would not be shocking to see seven of those teams reach districts.
That means these young players likely will take some lumps this season. The good news for Hughesville is that it could make it a strong team the next few years. Progress is being made right now as well. The Spartans played perennial playoff contender Central Columbia tough Saturday.
"I think they're starting to get it. I have a lot of freshmen that are playing, a lot of sophomores that are playing and I think they're starting to jell with each other," Hughesville coach Ed Rogers said. "Things like that just come with time. I'm a young coach and they're a young team so I think we are both learning and I think it will come together."
SENIOR LEADER: Williamsport senior forward Aisha Evans was brilliant in Saturday's loss to Wyoming Valley West, scoring 27 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and making eight steals. Equally impressive was the way she led her young teammates. Evans constantly was talking on the floor, helping her teammates, telling them what had to be done and calming them down.
Evans is the lone starter back from last year's team but is having a fantastic year. The Millionaires (1-4) are not off to the start they hoped for, but Evans leading by example and through her words could produce bigger results as the season progresses.
"We talk to her about being that leader we need both on the floor and off the floor and she's starting to step into that role nicely," Williamsport coach Derek Slaughter said. "She's doing a good job of not putting her head down, staying positive and picking other girls up. She's playing with younger girls and not getting frustrated and is teaching them and being that leader we need on the floor."
PUTBACKS: Bucktail's Maria Morgan continues to dazzle. The sophomore guard scored a career-high 42 points in Friday's 85-74 loss to Millville. Morgan scored 21 third-quarter points when the Bucks cut a 20-point halftime deficit to one. Sophomore Meridith Blessard also is playing well and had a career-high 25 points ... Jersey Shore dropped its first game Saturday, but is still off to its best start in more than a decade. The Bulldogs (5-1) already have won more games this season than in the previous three years combined. Courtney Smith is playing well inside and had 21 rebounds in wins over Bellefonte and Midd-West ... Junior forward Lori Horton has been instrumental to Williamson's solid start. Horton scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and made nine steals in a 59-26 win over Canton, then had 26 points in Saturday's 54-49 win over Troy.
Dr. Masse's Top Five
1. Muncy (5-0): The Indians showed some good toughness Saturday, rallying from an eight-point deficit and beating Bloomsburg, 45-36. Muncy is off to its best start in more than a decade and has held four straight teams to fewer than 40 points. It also is tied for first with Benton in the HAC-III. Senior forward Charity Good had a big week and scored a career-high 20 points in a 50-33 win at Montgomery.
2. Montoursville (5-1): It was a nice statement week by the Warriors who beat HAC-II rivals Loyalsock and Warrior Run in their first two league games. Montoursville owned the second half each time, outscoring the two teams by 26 combined points. The Warriors held Loyalsock to eight second-half points and sophomore Kirsten O'Malley scored a career-high 25 points against Warrior Run. Montoursville hosts Troy in its Christmas Tournament Wednesday and could face Williamsport in the final Friday if both teams win.
3. Lewisburg (3-2): The Green Dragons looked dominant in a 52-35 win over Warrior Run but lost by 13 to Mount Carmel three days later and the Tornadoes still look like the team to beat in District 4 Class AA for now. Lois Lesher is a strong all-around inside player and blocked six shots against Warrior Run. Point guard Maria Kelleher continues to impress and scored 47 points in those two games, including 27 against the Defenders.
4. Warrior Run (3-2): The Defenders have the potential to be a district title contender but need more girls to start contributing and take some pressure off Steph Shamburg and Tay Parker since most defenses are geared to stop them. Warrior Run is hoping to capture its third straight Christmas Tournament championship and opens against Milton Thursday.
5. Mansfield (5-2): I know the wins are impressive, but I am more impressed by close losses to Class AAA and AA title contenders Athens and Wyalusing by seven combined points more. The Tigers competing so well against bigger school teams should bode well for their chances in District 4 Class A. Mansfield is well-coached and has four players averaging 9.3 points or more per game. The Tigers have a nice blend of experience and young talent too. Senior Molly Wood is a versatile player who is nearly averaging a double-double. She grabbed 16 rebounds and made seven steals against Wyalusing.
Player of the Week
Meghan Trenholm, St. John Neumann: The junior guard had one of the best weeks in her standout career. The three-year starter averaged 27.3 points in three games and helped the Knights go 2-1 while winning a big road game at Millville last Saturday. Trenholm had a performance to remember in a 56-42 win at Bucktail, scoring 26 points, grabbing 24 rebounds and making 10 steals. Trenholm is only 5-foot-6 and grabbed that many rebounds. That is impressive.
of the Week
Warrior Run Tournament: Maybe we should call this The Weaver Bowl since three of the four coaches are related. In addition to Craig and Jon Weaver coaching, Craig's youngest son, Craig Jr. is coaching Muncy. Milton also is competing in the tournament making it an all-area competition. For the coaches, the championship would be nice -but family bragging rights might be even better.
Masse may be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @docmasse