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Defenders stumble in district semifinals

SUNBURY — If there ever was a game Warrior Run wanted back or could start over, it would be its District 4 AAA semifinal game against Central Columbia on Tuesday. The Blue Jays blew the top off the building off at Shikellamy and let the rain fall in a 63-50 win.

The Blue Jays held a double-digit lead for much of the game as Warrior Run could not find an offensive rhythm or stop Eli Morrison and the Central Columbia attack.

Central Columbia advances to face Loyalsock, a 61-46 winner over Hugesville, in the district championship game, and both teams clinched a spot in the PIAA tournament.

Warrior Run and Hughesville play in the consolation game to decide who earns the district’s final Class AAA spot for the state playoffs.

“The good thing is there’s one more game. The kids are resilient. They’ve battled all year. There’s not doubt in my mind that the kids will be ready to go in the next game,” Warrior Run coach Eric Wertman said as he glanced over Tuesday’s outcome and already was focused on the consolation game.

Morrison set the tone for the night knocking down four of the first six buckets of the game as the Blue Jays built a 14-2 lead in the first quarter. Morrison drained all four shots from 3-point range, Patrick Yost got a layup to drop as Denver Beachel got the Defenders on the board with a strong layup. But it would be the shaky start Warrior Run endured and the fast-paced play of Central Columbia that had the game out of hand until it was too late.

Central built a 23-9 first-quarter lead and had the magic touch for the ball to drop while Warrior Run was asking for a little help and got none making it easy for Central to grab rebounds and turn it into offense and finished up with a 34-15 at halftime.

“We only had 15 in the first half. We should be scoring more than that in a half,” Denver Beachel said. “We just gotta put this game behind us quick and get back to work for our next game.”

The Defenders did find success in the second half putting up 16 points in the third quarter. Already down by 21 (36-15) to start, the Defenders knew they had to have a short memory and come out like it was a new game. Kade Anzulavich nailed a 3 to spark some confidence in his team, then Braden Bomberger’s jumper fell and Beachel found Anzulavich for another jumper and Warrior Run got on a 9-4 run to get the lead down to 16 with five minutes left in the quarter, but it would be the closest the Defenders got. Central Columbia rattled off four more shots before Beachel hit an NBA 3 at the buzzer.

“They had a pretty big lead at halftime, we wanted to come out and make some stops on defense and start putting the ball in the basket to pick away at the lead,” Beachel said.

The Blue Jays closed out their win with 11 points in the fourth quarter as Morrison led all players with 18 points, Dylan Harris finished with 12 points and Patrick Yost added 11 to advance to the District 4 final.

Beachel led the Defenders with 14 points, Ahmahd Keyes scored 10 and Anzulavich and Bomberger scored eight and nine, respectively.

“They had a nice game plan that they were able to execute. They out-rebounded us. You are not going to win many games when you give people multiple chances to score on the same possession including a team that was already shooting well,” Wertman said.

Central Columbia 63, Warrior Run 50

WARRIOR RUN (50)

Denver Beachel 5 0-0 14; Braden Bomberger 4 0-0 9; Ethan Hartman 0 4-4 4; Ahmahd Keyes 4 1-2 10 Kade Anzulavich 3 0-0 8; Tyler Pick 1 1-2 3; AJ Bieber 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 6-8 50.

CENTRAL COLUMBIA (63)

Eli Morrison 6 2-2 18; Luke Zeisloft 0 1-2 1; Russell Gump 4 3-4 11; Zander Bradley 2 0-0 4; Dylan Harris 4 2-4 12; Garrett McNelis 3 0-0 6; Patrick Yost 4 3-5 11. Totals 23 11-17 63.

Warrior Run 9 6 16 19 — 50

Central Columbia 23 11 18 11 — 63

3-point goals: Warrior Run 8 (Beachel 4, Anzulavich 2, Bomberger 1, Keyes 1), Central Columbia 6 (Morrison 4, Harris 2).

Records: Warrior Run (14-10). Next game: Warrior Run vs. Hughesville, TBA, District 4 Class AAA third-place game.

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