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Decade’s best No. 6: Steph Shamburg was a difference-maker with Warrior Run

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a series looking back at the Top 10 girls basketball teams, coaches, games and players from the last decade.

Two years earlier, Warrior Run had endured a winless season, but freshman Steph Shamburg helped it reach the 2011 District 4 Class AA playoffs. A year later, the versatile forward was the team’s Most Valuable Player as it won its first playoff game of the 2000s. And as a senior Shamburg earned all-state honors as Warrior Run won 21 games and reached the state tournament for the first time in 19 years.

One gets the point. Shamburg was a difference-maker. Coach Jon Weaver helped transform the program and he built that successful foundation upon the hard-working Shamburg, who ignited a winning culture that continues to thrive today.

“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,” Weaver said in 2013. “For four years she has carried us. She has done a real nice job.”

Shamburg did that job for four years, becoming a blue-collar player who set an example for a hard-working team that made strides each year she was there. By her graduation, Shamburg had established herself as the program’s best player ever, scoring a record 1,367 points, grabbing 841 rebounds, making 286 steals and adding 176 assists. Shamburg twice averaged double-doubles for the season and nearly did so again as a senior.

A physical player who frequently took a pounding inside from constant double-teaming and collapsing defenses, Shamburg shook away pain like a fly and became a rock of consistency. She was at her best her senior season, helping will Warrior Run at times to big wins and establishing herself as one of the state’s finest players.

“I didn’t think anything of it (all-state) until Weaver told me. I was like, ‘oh, that is awesome,'” Shamburg said that year. “It’s nice to end my senior season like this. Finally getting to states and now getting all-state is just great.”

So was Shamburg.

One of the district’s most productive players a a freshman, Shamburg asserted herself as a force by her sophomore season. She was the runner-up for Sun-Gazette Player of the Year honors, second to only Maryland-bound Tierney Pfirman, and also earned the first of three HAC-II first team all-star honors. Shamburg averaged 17.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while anchoring one of the area’s stingiest defenses. She highlighted her big year with a 32-point, 14-rebound effort against perennial title contender Loyalsock.

Late in the year, however, Shamburg suffered a stress fracture and it appeared her season might be over. But she could not be kept off the court and helped Warrior Run win its first playoff game in nearly 20 years, nearly recording another double-double in a 51-41 win against Williamson. A few days later she ended her season with a 15-point, nine-rebound performance against NTL-East champion Wyalusing, showing her heart matched her talent.

Following that big season, Shamburg was a marked player against every Warrior Run opponent as a junior. They could not stop her, though, and she averaged 16.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game as Warrior Run won nine of its last 13 regular-season games and finished 14-9. All that work Shamburg put in throughout the offseason paid big dividends once the games counted and led to her best season yet, one of the best in program history.

Warrior Run had made a big turnaround, but Shamburg was determined to take it to another level and relentlessly competed each night, going after that goal. The Defenders feed of her tenacity on both ends and their 21 victories are the most any Warrior Run team has produced in the 2000s. She again filled the stat sheet every night, averaging 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. Early that season she scored her 1,000th career point, going 23 points against Montgomery as the Defenders improved to 6-0.

The numbers were impressive, the intangibles were even better. The biggest games and toughest opponents always brought out the best in Shamburg, who scored 24 points and added 10 rebounds against state power Dunmore in the state tournament. It seemed fitting that her signature high school performance was the one which helped Warrior Run end its state tournament drought. Eight days after point guard Emily Webb tore her ACL and was lost for the season, Warrior Run was playing Montoursville for the third and final District 4 Class AA berth. The Warriors were a year from going 22-4 and led by 10 in the third quarter. Webb was out, starting guard Chloe Eisenhuth was in foul trouble and hopes appeared to be fading fast.

But Shamburg never doubted her team or herself. At the most critical time, she played the best basketball of her life and dominated the game’s final 12 minutes. Shamburg scored 24 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and made seven steals, helping Warrior Run rally for a dramatic 43-37 victory.

“I knew I didn’t want my season to end early,” Shamburg said afterward. “I knew I had to do something to step up and help out. I had to be the leader and captain they chose me to be.”

She certainly was, scoring 18 points in those last 12 minutes. Shamburg dominated all facets and would not let Warrior Run lose. Shamburg scored 12 fourth-quarter points, finished 10 for 10 at the line and played ferocious defense. That second-half performance provided the perfect snapshot of the player she was throughout the past four seasons.

“She was big time,” forward Abby Fisher said. “She definitely carried the team for the most part. I would give her all the credit.”

“We have gotten this out of her a lot. To do what she’s doing, drawing double and triple teams everywhere is just a great job,” Weaver said. “That is Steph in a nutshell. She has come up big for us so many times and (that game) was the biggest yet to get us to move on.”

Warrior Run has become one of the area’s most consistent winners since Shamburg’s freshman season. And the way she played provided quite a blueprint.

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