South Warren holds off Warren East for 47-38 win
Behind a game-high 20 points from Natalie Pierce, South Warren was able to hold off Warren East and earn a 47-38 win on Friday evening at Warren East High School.
The two sides played a back-and-forth type of game and exchanged baskets from start to finish, but the Spartans (3-1, 1-0 District 14) delivered the final punch and recorded the tough District 14 road victory.
“Any district win is important,” South Warren head coach Lane Embry said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. I was extremely impressed with Warren East tonight. I thought they came out and executed their game plan and did what you’re supposed to do. A big, big, big win.”
South Warren held a slim 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and later took a 22-18 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Spartans and Lady Raiders (0-6, 0-1 District 14) remained tight throughout the second half as the Spartans led by just four at 33-29 after three, but they eventually took East out of its groove to come out on top.
Along with Pierce’s big outing, Lexi Button finished with seven points, while Olivia Steele scored six and Brooke Stevenson added five.
“She made big plays down the stretch – and that’s what veterans have to do,” Embry said of Pierce. “Natalie was awesome. I think as we get going through this year and some of these girls get more varsity minutes, they’ll be a little more trustworthy with the basketball.”
Lucy Patterson registered a double-double for Warren East with 14 points and 15 rebounds. Kelsey Sparks added 12 for the Lady Raiders.
The two sides competed in a sluggish opening quarter, with just 10 points being scored in the first eight minutes and South Warren leading 7-3.
“It was sloppy for a reason,” said Embry. “I thought coach Hayden had his kids really ready to go and had a great game plan for us. I thought their kids really brought the fight – and at the beginning our girls really didn’t punch back and get it going. We executed down the stretch and had multiple people step up.”
Warren East answered – and a big way – in the ensuing frame, opening the second with a quick 6-2 run to tie it at 9-all at the 6:11 mark. Pierce answered the Lady Raiders’ run with a step-back three-pointer from the left wing to put South Warren back in front at 12-9, but East remained tough and stayed within three points.
After trailing 17-14 with 2:22 remaining in the half, Warren East put together a quick 5-1 run – highlighted by Patterson’s rebound and put-back on the left side of the glass – to get within 19-18.
Just before the break, Steele scored, was fouled and completed the and-one to give the Spartans a 22-18 advantage at the break. Pierce led all scorers with 10 points after the first half, while Button had scored seven. Patterson, at that point, was pacing the Lady Raiders with seven of her own.
South Warren forced 12 turnovers over the course of the first 16 minutes, but Warren East held a 17-8 advantage in the rebounding category.
Things remained competitive in the second half.
South Warren led 26-22 at the 5:30 mark of the third quarter, but Warren East responded with a 5-1 run – and Caroline Forrester split a pair of free throws – to even the scoreboard at 27-all with just over three minutes left in the period. Just after, Embry Weaver split a pair of free throws herself, and Jess Bush knocked down a three to put the Spartans up 31-29 at the 2:35 mark.
The Spartans ultimately led 33-29 entering the final quarter and pushed their advantage to 35-29 early into the fourth. Patterson answered with a drive and score inside to bring Warren East within 35-31 at the 6:33 mark before splitting a pair of free throws to make it 35-32 with five minutes remaining.
The Lady Raiders and Spartans continued to exchange baskets throughout the final minutes, but a basket from Weaver put South Warren up 42-34 with 2:07 left. The Spartans were able to lead for the remainder of the affair and earn a grinded-out road victory.
South Warren returns to action next Tuesday as it travels to Apollo for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Warren East will hit the floor again Monday on the road at Franklin-Simpson. Tipoff for that contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.