Warrior girls win their seventh straight game
Lexi Marchioni has experienced better shooting nights. She has made more 3-pointers before.
But in a game where points were so hard to come by, all three 3-pointers the Montoursville point guard made felt like dagger-like blows Thursday. Marchioni scored 14 points and each of her 3-pointers came at key times as Montoursville delivered the kind of perimeter performance visiting Warrior Run did not as it won its seventh straight game, 37-23. Lauren O’Malley scored 17 points and the Warriors won their sixth straight in this rivalry series.
“It definitely is a weapon. We have so many players who can shoot 3-pointers,” Marchioni said. “Warrior Run had good bigs so we had to capitalize on our 3s.”
Marchioni has done that all season and hit two in the first quarter, one which gave Montoursville (16-1) the lead and another which stopped a Defender run. The biggest shot, however, came in the third quarter after Warrior Run (10-7) had held Montoursville scoreless for more than three minutes and pulled within six on an Avery Bieber basket.
Just seconds later, Marchioni worked herself free in the corner and drained another 3-pointer. That ignited a game-changing 8-0 run and the Defenders never pulled closer than 12 again. Add in Marchioni running the offense well, sparking a swarming defense and making some good fourth-quarter passes and she delivered the latest in a long line of strong performances during her four-year starting scholastic career.
“Lexi is one of the best shooters, if not the best shooter, in the area. If she has an off night she just has to shoot through it and she did and she hit some big shots,” Montoursville Travis Heap said. “She did a nice job taking the ball to the basket and getting to the foul line and drawing people in and kicking out. She was just an overall point guard which you expect from a four-year starter like her.”
Warrior Run, like many Montoursville opponents, focused its attention on slowing down East Stroudsburg-bound center Marlene Bassett. The strategy worked in that the Defenders limited Bassett’s touches and points. But playing Montoursville means basically picking one’s poison. Collapse inside and players like Marchioni can do damage outside. Extend the defense outward and Bassett can take over inside.
Marchioni hit seven 3-pointers two weeks ago against Wellsboro and it is Montoursville’s strong inside-outside game which has it off to its best start since 2000 when Kelly Mazzante was a senior.
“That makes it difficult to guard us,” Marchioni said. “If any of us guards have an off game the bigs have a good game and if the bigs are a little off we have the shooters. We always pick each other up.”
“A lot of teams focus on Marlene. That’s just how it is,” Heap said. “You have to focus on Marlene because she’s that good of a player which opens up shots for Lauren and Lexi and when we’re hitting them we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”
That perimeter element is something Warrior Run is lacking right now. The Defenders feature two of the area’s premier post players in Madi Welliver and Megan Zimmerman but Montoursville, like most Warrior Run opponents, sagged its defense down low and made it tough for those two to get touches and/or clean looks. The Defenders were held to 10 field goals and Montoursville forced 23 turnovers, including 19 in the middle quarter when it outscored them, 19-7.
“We wanted to pinch in. That was our plan coming in. Front the post and have a girl right on the back and take away the high post,” Heap said. “We followed the game plan on the defensive end really well. They had 11 first-half points and eight on putbacks so we have to do a better job boxing out, but overall as a team, defensively we did a really nice job.”
Welliver still made a big impact and did all she could to help Warrior Run pull the upset. The senior forward scored 10 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots. She scored Warrior Run’s first six points off offensive rebounds and recorded her second double-double in three games. Zimmerman added seven rebounds and Taylor Coup scored six points.
Welliver and Zimmerman did break free early in the fourth quarter to score four quick points, but Montoursville responded each time. And while the Defenders might have limited Bassett’s scoring, the senior center hurt them with her passing in the fourth quarter, dealing two backdoor assists and setting up two foul shots with another pretty backdoor pass to a cutting O’Malley.
O’Malley added six rebounds and four steals to go along with her 17 points and reserves like Kaitlyn Dawes, Becca Reeder and Lydia Albert provided valuable minutes in the second quarter after Bassett picked up her second foul.
“Warrior Run was tough tonight,” Marchioni said. “It was a good win for us. It shows when we go against good teams that we can handle it. We did well.”
WARRIOR RUN (23)
Megan Zimmerman 1 1-3 3, Madi Welliver 5 0-3 10, Avery Bieber 1 2-4 4, Taylor Coup 3 0-0 6, Maddie Beyer 0 0-0 0, Hayden Divers 0 0-0 0, Taylor Williams 0 0-0 0. totals 10 3-10 23.
Lauren O’Malley 4 9-10 17, Marlene Bassett 1 2-3 4, Lexi Marchioni 5 1-1 14, Gillian Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Ashlynn McQuillen 0 0-0 0, Shelby Kurtz 0 0-0 0, Becca Reeder 0 0-0 0, Lydia Albert 0 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Dawes 1 0-0 2. Totals 11 12-14 37.
Warrior Run 8 3 4 8–23
Montoursville 10 9 10 8–37
3-pointers: Montoursville 3 (Marchioni).
Records: Montoursville 16-1. Warrior Run 10-7.
JV Score: Montoursville 34-13.