Warrior Run senior Steph Shamburg missed one foul shot Friday night at Montoursville. She made her previous seven but the last one fell short, denying Shamburg her 1,000th career point.
But Shamburg could not care less. She actually seemed relieved afterward. The four-year starter can now reach that milestone at home in next Friday's Warrior Run Tournament against Montgomery and she is happy about that. She was even happier with last night's most important result.
Shamburg scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Warrior Run held Montoursville to eight second-half points as it overcame an eight-point third-quarter deficit and won, 34-24. The Defenders improved to 5-0 and are off to their best start in the 21st century.
Warrior Run’s Steph Shamberg drives past Montoursville's Lexi Marchioni Friday night at Montoursville. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"I'd rather do it (1,000 points) at home. I'll make it there with the crowd," Shamburg said. "It's nervewracking getting up near this point. Now I'm so close that I can just play my game and not worry about it."
Montoursville swarmed Shamburg all night Friday and also did an excellent job denying her the ball. Still, the standout forward had game-highs in points and rebounds and her drive down the middle of the lane put Warrior Run ahead 29-24 with just 70 seconds remaining.
Shamburg has made a career of coming up big in key spots while helping Warrior Run go from an also-ran to a perennial district title contender. The Defenders have improved their win total in each of Shamburg's four seasons and she has been the player making this program go.
"She's not only a scorer, but the way she sees the floor and the way she runs the floor and rebounds, she was someone to build around," Warrior Run coach Jon Weaver said. "For four years she has carried us. She has done a real nice job."
Warrior Run had scored at least 50 points in each of its first four games but Montoursville relentlessly went after it and forced WR into a poor shooting night filled with turnovers. And when the Warriors, playing without all-star point guard Kirsten O'Malley the entire game and valuable forward Kelsey Stine for three quarters, opened a 20-12 lead just two minutes into the third quarter, it appeared Warrior Run was in serious trouble.
Instead, the Defenders turned up their defensive pressure and allowed just one field goal over the game's final 14 minutes while forcing several turnovers. They tied the game at 21-21 after three quarters and went ahead to stay early in the fourth when Laura Bastian hit a foul shot.
"Somehow we always find a way. We have heart and guts and we pull through," Shamburg said. "It was our defense. We rely on our defense to get steals and turnovers and that made things happen."
Warrior Run stretched its lead to 26-21 before Lexi Marchioni hit a 3-pointer with 4:25 remaining. That, though, was the last basket Warrior Run allowed and Shamburg, Abby Fisher, Emily Webb, Madi Welliver and Chloe Eisenhuth all hit clutch foul shots down the stretch.
Shamburg scored three straight points to make it a two-possession game in the final minute before Webb, a freshman point guard who had nine points and three steals, sealed the win with consecutive foul shots.
"I told them defense is going to win or lose you games and that's obviously what we work on more than anything and that got us a win tonight as ugly as the offense was," Weaver said. "It was a horrible performance but a great win. We didn't play well and we still won and that says a lot about the girls."
The way Montoursville fought without two of their best players spoke volumes too. O'Malley again was sidelined with a back injury that has bothered her since the preseason and Stine was hurt early in the second quarter when she banged the back of her head off the court after falling while fighting for a rebound. The Warriors were down two at that point but surged ahead 16-12 at halftime. They extended that lead to 20-12 in the third-quarter's first two minutes as Marissa Folk scored a Marissa Hall assist and Alexis Weisser scored off a putback.
Folk played her second straight solid game off the bench, scoring off a game-high eight points and grabbing six rebounds. She was a force at times in the second quarter and freshman guard Marchioni continued showing promise, scoring six points. All the Warriors played tenacious defense as they showed why they are dangerous no matter who is on the court.
WARRIOR RUN (34)
Steph Shamburg 3 7-8 13, Abby Fisher 2 2-4 6, Emily Webb 1 6-9 9, Madi Welliver 0 2-4 2, Chloe Eisenhuth 1 1-2 3, Laura Bastian 0 1-4 1, McKenzie Hayes 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 19-30 34.
Kelsey Stine 0 0-0 0, Marissa Hall 1 0-0 3, McKenzie Ruffing 1 1-3 4, Alexis Weisser 1 0-2 2, Nicole Weisser 0 1-2 1, Lexi Marchioni 2 1-1 6, Marissa Folk 2 4-7 8, Gillian Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Marlene Bassett 0 0-0 0. Totals 7 7-16 24.
Warrior Run8 4 9 13-34
Montoursville6 10 5 3-24
3-pointers: Warrior Run 1 (Webb); Montoursville 3 (Hall, Ruffing, Marchioni).
Records: Warrior Run 5-0, 2-0 HAC-II. Montoursville 3-2, 0-2.